PAGE McCONNELL | 04.04.07 | NYC

Listen to Page McConnell on Rhapsody

Words by: Martin Halo :: Images by: Rod Snyder

Page McConnell :: 04.04.07 :: Gramercy Theatre :: New York, New York

Page McConnell :: 04.04.07
Following the last Phish shows on August 15, 2004 at Coventry, keyboardist Page McConnell has been relatively quiet. While Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon have each gone on to participate in a number of projects, Page has remained almost silent. With his show on April 4 in New York City and self-titled solo debut set for release on Tuesday April 17, the silence has been broken.

The anticipation for Page’s first show back was palpable and for the most part fulfilled desires. Welcoming back a slew of faithful fans, Page performed a short set that showcased material off the upcoming release. The album, which was recorded during the first half of 2006 in Vermont and New York City, features contributions by Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman. The touring line-up at the Gramercy included Adam Zimmon (guitar), Jared Slomoff (guitar/Fender Rhodes), Rob O’Dea (bass) and Gabe Jarrett (drums). Buried awkwardly inside of Midtown Manhattan, the converted film house swelled to its 800-seat capacity long before the house lights fell. Peering through spectacles, McConnell briefly greeted the audience, stepped behind an engulfing sea of keyboards and launched into “Back in the Basement.”

Page McConnell :: 04.04.07
With bars located on opposite walls, the vibe was that of a bustling lounge rather than an intimate conversation between the artist and audience. A heavy haze rose from the stage as video projection screens displayed psychedelic charms on the walls above the stash of booze.

After an extended jam, “Runaway Bride” followed and the crowd eased into the new material. McConnell removed his glasses and took a quick swill from his beer before starting the piano opus, “Maid Marian.” Melodic harmonies dominated this number and further unified the crowd’s grasp for musical transcendence.

The performance was further enhanced by lighting director Chris Kuroda, whose post-Phish credits include the Black Crowes masterful reunion run at Hammerstein Ballroom in 2005 and New Year’s Eve at Madison Square Garden later that same year. Kuroda casually smoked cigarettes behind the light board while his lights danced off the notes like playful fireflies on a moonless summer’s evening.

Page McConnell :: 04.04.07
The jams were loose, held together by Slomoff and McConnell’s foundation, which teetered on the verge of musical catastrophe with every passing moment. Now chugging along at full steam, the performance spiked with a jam led by Zimmon’s guitar before giving way to “Close to Home” and a set-capping “Beauty of a Broken Heart.”

McConnell returned to warm, affectionate waves of appreciation for his efforts to add another chapter to the Phish legacy. Beneath a spotlight, he delivered a beautiful rendition of “Strange Design” and the crowd exploded. The band reemerged for “Everyone But Me.” As the music faded, people threw roses on stage, thanking McConnell for a good night.

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McConnell’s s official tour kicks off in Burlington, Vermont at the Higher Ground on May 30, and will keep the band playing mostly east of the Mississippi until mid-June.

Full tour dates available HERE.