By David Bienenstock
Attention Phish Fans: Trey Anastasio has not forgotten how to play the guitar. Just in case there was any confusion on that point, the former phrontman brought his new, stripped down solo band into New York City for a two-night weekend stand meant to set the stage for the first-ever post-Phish summer and the related emergence of Mr. Anastasio as a man who’s gone solo for good—no phalse starts, no hiatus, no looking back—except of course on Saturday night, when he invited Phish bassist Mike Gordon up on stage for a few numbers, including “Waste,” “Wolfman’s Brother,” “Back on the Train,” and the Hank Williams, Jr. classic “Old Habits.”
And if anyone’s wondering where Trey’s finding inspiration these days, look no further than another once tightly-knit quartet who broke up at the height of their fame and artistic powers. Friday’s show ended with an encore taken straight from the Beatles’ Abbey Road—the final side of their final album in fact, played in order, ending naturally with “The End.” Other Beatles covers included “I am the Walrus,” and “Dig a Pony,” both of which were featured frequently during the short run leading up the Hammerstein shows, culminating in Saturday night’s dazzling “Walrus” encore, with Gordon on electric bass. No word on whether Trey considers himself John, Paul, George, or some combination of the three (we’re guessing not Ringo), but with a new album due out this fall, a “special late-night set at Bonaroo” in June and a headlining gig on this summer’s inaugural Zooma tour to bridge the gap between them, he now stands at the end of the path between the conclusion of Phish and the beginning of whatever will come next.
Based on the crowd’s reaction to this two-night orgy of gorgeous solos, tight jamming, and singular focus, we expect success will continue to follow Trey as long as he remembers how to play that guitar.