Words by: Scott Bernstein
Images by: Adam McCullough
Trey Anastasio Band :: 4.14.17
The Capitol Theatre :: Port Chester, NY
The Capitol Theatre :: Port Chester, NY
View Adam’s photo gallery after Scotty’s recap.
Guitarist Trey Anastasio’s excitement to regroup the Trey Anastasio Band came through in our recent feature, so it is no surprise he was downright giddy throughout Friday night’s tour opener at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. TAB has been in back burner mode for most of the past few years. However, this year Anastasio is devoting nearly four months to the band he initially formed with drummer Russ Lawton and bassist Tony Markellis in 1999 that now also includes keyboardist Ray Paczkowski, percussionist Cyro Baptista and a horn section of Jennifer Hartswick, Natalie Cressman and James Casey. Despite only two gigs from TAB in 2016, the band was in fine form at The Cap on Friday as they delivered a show that featured three debuts and plenty of gems from a repertoire which continues to grow with each passing tour.
When Trey was asked about how he puts setlists together in his recent chat with JamBase, Anastasio’s response included, “Every night I stand backstage and say ‘Hey man, let’s start ‘Cayman’ and the second I get on stage I change my mind and say, ‘Wait, let’s start with ‘Sand!’ or something.” Not only did Friday’s show begin with “Sand” but “Cayman Review” was not far behind after “Mozambique” turned up in the two slot. The guitarist was bouncing around the stage with energy as he dug into his “Sand” solo and had a huge grin as Cressman was featured on “Mozambique.”
The evening’s first cover was a take on George Harrison’s “What Is Life,” a song that fits TAB like a glove, which the group debuted during their last tour in Fall 2015. Anastasio unveiled one new original on Friday, a tune he penned with longtime writing partner Tom Marshall entitled “Everything’s Right.” The catchy number was Traffic-esque musically and has lyrics that aren’t too far afield from Big Boat Phish rocker “More” as it has a positive message about “hanging tight” because “it’s just all right” despite the craziness of the modern world. Anastasio said something to the effect of, “Tom and I wrote that song because we felt it needed to be said” after concluding “Everything’s Right.”
The guitarist seemed to be reading the crowd throughout the night and even took a request from an audience member. Anastasio and the band tore through Toots & The Maytals’ “Sweet & Dandy” at the suggestion of a show-goer in front of the stage. One of the night’s biggest surprises came later in the first set as Cressman led the troupe through Portugal. The Man’s five-week-old single “Feel It Still.” Markellis’ funky and steady bass line was at the heart of the cover. While it seemed many in the historic venue were unfamiliar with the song, it didn’t stop them from dancing along to the incredibly funky number.
Though the Trey Anastasio Band focuses more on solos from band members than full-band improvisation ala Phish, there were a handful of moments when the group went beyond the normal boundaries of the material they performed. Most came in the second set including adventurous versions of “Liquid Time,” “Simple Twist Up Dave” and “Windora Bug.” Don’t expect four-song TAB second sets anytime soon, but it will be interesting to see if the number of jammy moments increases as the lengthy tour proceeds. The guitarist’s work in “Windora Bug” was particularly sublime as he focused more on textural rhythms rather than fretboard fireworks. Improvisationally, “Simple Twist Up Dave” was the highlight of the night as the band explored two or three different jam spaces with the horns seemingly coming up with patterns to play on the spot.
Cyro Baptista is a much-welcome addition back into the Trey Anastasio Band fold. Watching Cyro work is worth the price of admission alone and he adds a fantastic dynamic to the music. He especially stood out on a cover of “Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz in which he was egged on by Trey to play nearly every instrument in his massive setup including a gong. Hartswick’s impressive vocals were on full display throughout “Clint Eastwood” and the capacity crowd was treated to a double dose of Jennifer as frontwoman when a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed & Confused” came next. Again, the band was very tight throughout the evening and they nailed the Zeppelin cover complete with a fiery solo from Anastasio.
When TAB returned for the encore, Trey stepped to the mic to sing a traditional Irish folk song called “The Parting Glass.” Casey, Cressman and Hartswick backed Anastasio on the beautiful a capella cover. The Trey Anastasio Band then brought the concert to a close with one of their trademark scorchers, “Push On ‘Til The Day,” which featured another impassioned solo from the guitarist. As mentioned, Trey and the members of his band were effusive throughout the evening in their looks of joy at being reunited. The crowd was seemingly on the same page as they were huge smiles and tons of high-fives exchanged throughout the evening. It was tough to find anyone who didn’t look like they were having a ball. Anastasio will bring his band back to The Capitol Theatre on Saturday night.
Set One: Sand, Mozambique, Cayman Review, What Is Life, Everything’s Right*, Sweet & Dandy**, Speak To Me, Pigtail, Feel It Still^, Valentine, Soul Rebel, Gotta Jibboo
Set Two: Curlews Call, Night Speaks To A Woman, Liquid Time, 49 Bye Byes, Alaska, Heavy Things, Simple Twist Up Dave, Windora Bug, Shine, Clint Eastwood, Dazed & Confused
Encore: The Parting Glass^^, Push On ‘Til The Day
- * – debut, original, Anastasio/Marshall
- ** – by request for audience member
- ^ – debut, Portugal. The Man cover
- ^^ – debut, Traditional
- Upcoming Shows