Trey Anastasio Among Soule Monde Guests In New York City: Videos, Review & Setlist
Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio joined Soule Monde for their entire 90-minute performance at the tiny Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre in New York City on Thursday night. Soule Monde features keyboardist Ray Paczkowski and drummer Russ Lawton. Both Ray and Russ are longtime members of the Trey Anastasio Band as are percussionist Cyro Baptista and saxophonist James Casey, who also made guest apperances during the magical night on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
While the guest spots took the evening to the next level, to be clear, Soule Monde are incredible and make a huge noise for just two musicians on their own. The avant-groove compositions Paczkowski and Lawton have cooked up over more than a decade as a duo are right in Anastasio’s wheelhouse and he made the most of his appearance, weaving greasy solos and dynamic rhythm work into each song. Baptista also made great use of his percussion set which came complete with many of the toys he usually brings on Trey tour. Casey emerged a few times during the show and crushed any solo he took. The chemistry between the five musicians was a sight to behold.
Trey, who lives walking distance from the venue, emerged with Lawton and Paczkowski at the start of the show before a capacity crowd of 160 extremely lucky live music fans. Anastasio used his “Blonde No. 2” guitar that had been missing in action since shortly after he unveiled the guitar on June 22, 2016 and spoke to JamBase about the instrument. He also had a handful of effect pedals including a vintage Tube Screamer, old Crybaby Wah, Supa-Puss delay and a Komet amp custom made for small gigs (thanks Trey’s Guitar Rig). The guitarist is a perfectionist when it comes to tone and he had the ideal sound for each tune. Ray introduced Anastasio by quipping, “We found this guy on the side of the street.” Soule Monde and Trey then lit into “Slide B.”
Soule Monde’s songs are particularly groovy: think Medeski Martin & Wood meets The Meters. Trey seemed well-versed and prepared for the gig. He had a knack for finding the right spot to fit in and outside of a few peeks at his notes, needed little direction. There was no iPad or music stand in front of him. One thing that stood out right from the start was how willing Anastasio was to shred when required and lay back when the music called for it. Many past Trey guest appearances have found the guitarist tentative and too willing to cede to the other musicians on stage. It certainly helps that Anastasio has nearly 20 years of experience jamming with these guys. After “Slide B,” which wound up as the night’s only song to feature just Trey, Russ and Ray, Anastasio leaned over to Paczkowski and said “I love playing with you, man.” The sentiment had extra meaning following a tough 2018 for the keyboardist in which he underwent brain surgery and needed months of rest to recover.
Baptista came out for “Miss Miriam” and stuck around for the remainder of the evening. Cyro threw in crazy vocal stylings, banged on pots and pans, led the audience in a chant and helped make the groove even deeper at various points of the night. “Miss Miriam” was an afrobeat-tinged excursion while the extremely funky “Rocket Juice” saw Anastasio lock in with Paczkowski for a sensational call-and-response segment. A highlight at a show filled with them came with “The Story,” a dirty groove in which Trey utilized a swampy tone to great effect. The audience was going wild with excitement as many jaws were left agape at the music coming from the stage.
James Casey emerged a few songs later during “Bernard.” He came, saw, conquered and left the stage to rapturous applause. The 80-minute main set continued on with “Take My Hand,” a song akin to Anastasio’s “Curlew’s Call.” It should be noted there were no vocals throughout the concert outside of improvised chants from Baptista. Trey, who was intently focused on Ray during the show, would go from a serious look of concentration to cracking up when Cyro began “singing.”
While all of Soule Monde’s songs were groovy, they had different feels which gave fans a chance to see different sides of the performers’ musicianship. “Elsie’s River” was a bumping progression, while the “Tango” set-closer had hints of samba within. The night few in attendance will ever forget came to a close with a wild “Influence” encore that included an appearance from Casey. All five artists had one last chance to rock out and made the most of the opportunities. Trey stuck around for a few minutes after the show to shake hands and then was gone. Walking out of the venue, it was hard to find any audience members who weren’t sporting shit-eating grins. It was that kind of night in Manhattan.
Videos | Captured by LazyLightning55
Set: Slide B, Miss Miriam, Rocket Juice, Mimi, Whassat, The Story, Bernard, Take My Hand, Elsie’s River, Allah Uya, Tango
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