Thursday, June 17, 2010

Phish in Portsmouth review, Deer Tick, Buckwheat Zydeco, Earth, Wind & Fire

The Phish show in Portsmouth on Tuesday, 6/15, was splendid with the band firing on all cylinders.  The nTelos Pavilion is a great place to see a show, only holding 6500.  We started the show on the "lawn" which is a narrow strip of grass at the back of the amphitheater, maybe 15 rows deep.  The breeze was coming in nicely off of the river, cooling things down.  With the cool grass between our toes, the band started with a request shouted out by someone in the audience of "Tube".  This went into the boogie of "Kill Devil Falls" and then the prog-rock-ish "Slave to the Traffic Light" for a nice 1-2-3 punch to open the show. 

Keyboardist Page McConnell chilled everyone out (in a good way) with his lounge lizard song, "Lawn Boy", stepping out from behind the piano to croon.  "Poor Heart" was next bringing us some country boogie-woogie.  Next was fan favorite, "AC/DC Bag", then the "Moma Dance" which, with its lyrics about sailing, was an appropriate song for a venue next to a marina.  "Moma" also provided some nice funky dancing.  "My Friend, My Friend" built up to a nice climax and then the band debuted their cover of Tom Waits' "Cold Water".  That was a bluesy number which was kind of a break from the intensity of the last three songs.  Another fan singalong fav, "Bathtub Gin" was next and then they closed the first set with a powerful version of "Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan" with Trey Anastasio wailing on guitar and left the whole crowd singing the chorus "Got a blank space where my mind should be" well into the intermission.

As intermission ended, I found myself with some friends waiting in line (which were not long at all) for drinks so I missed the beginning of "Wilson" but could hear it fairly well.  About halfway into the song, we entered via the closest entrance back into the amphithater and found ourselves at the back of the standing section on the floor.  Not a bad space to be and I would stay there most of the second set.  "Wilson" led into "Seven Below" into "46 Days" and at this point all was a dancing blur as the light show was incredible as usual and the band was burning.  Another new song, this one an original, "Idea", was next.  That was played somewhat tentatively and never really gelled but may have some potential down the road.

Next was the dance/funk/lights mania that is their disco-fied cover of "Also Sprach Zarathrustra" aka "2001 Theme". 

That led into the rockin' singalong of "Simple" which made me smile because its one of the Phish songs my kids have on one of the mix CDs I made for them.  Next was what I felt was the highlight of the second set, "Taste" which found the band really locking in and reaching the height of "group mind" playing, everyone playing in perfect sync and hitting everything just right.  They closed the set with the psychedelic combo of the lush "Theme From the Bottom" featuring excellent bass work from Mike Gordon who was on all night....

That went into a killer cover of The Beatles' "A Day In The Life".

For the encore, they came out with the pleasant song "Heavy Things" but "Heavy Things" seemed a little light to end such a great show with and everyone knen it.  And they didn't disappoint.  They built the show to an amazing funky driving rocking climax with "First Tube", with the band and the lights driving everyone into an absolute frenzy and Trey ending the night with guitar raised overhead, wringing every last ounce of feedback out of the night.  A great venue and a great show from a band that seems absolutely energized right now.

Now that I've got you all excited about Phish, a reminder that I have 4 lawn seats for the Sunday, 6/27, Merriweather Post show available.  I'm selling them for the list price of $50 or best offer.  If you live in the Richmond area, I will deliver them personally.  If you are interested, you can contact me by leaving a comment below.

And the local press even had some good things to say about Phish and all of us Phish heads:

Onto this weekend's Richmond shows.

Friday Cheers features Deer Tick, which sounds like some kind of heavy metal band, but is, per the Venture Richmond site, "a combination of folk, blues, and country with a strong grunge influence".  You can take a listen yourself on their MySpace page.  Entry fee is just $2 and the show starts at 6:30 PM with opener Former Champions.  I think I'll be going so if you want to join me, let me know. Here's the band on Letterman last night:

If you want to get your zydeco on, check out the great Buckwheat Zydeco at the Capital Ale House Downtown Friday night.  The show starts at 10 PM and its $20 to get in. Buckwheat puts on a fun show. Here's Buckwheat and band this Feburary:

Classic funk masters Earth, Wind & Fire come to Innsbrook on Wednesday night.  Tix are $21 in advance, $25 at the gate, Gold Circle seats are sold out.  Gates open at 6, and EWF comes on at 7.  There is no opener.  Here they are back in the day doing their classic "September":

Innsbrook announced a great show today, The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue 2010 Featuring Michael McDonald, Donald Fagen (Steely Dan) and Boz Scaggs on Sunday August 29.  Tickets go on sale Friday, June 18 at 10 AM.  This lineup is very similar to the NY Rock & Soul Review which was an excellent show (and live album) I saw back in the early 90's with those three, Walter Becker (Steely Dan) and Phoebe Snow.  At that show, the players just took turns playing each others songs and backing each other up and it was phenomenal. 

Finally, Tift Merritt will be at Ashland Coffee & Tea on Tuesday night.  Show starts at 8 and tix are $20 in advance, $25 day of show.  Her new album "See You on the Moon" is getting great reviews (a score of 75 on MetaCritic).  Tift plays alt-country similar to Sheryl Crow, Shelby Lynne, Lucinda Williams, or Emmylou Harris.  Here's the video for her new song, "Mixtape":

That's it. Have a great weekend and I'll see you at Friday Cheers!

Tony Jordan