SuperDee's House

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Great to see you, Page.

Last night at the newly opened Gramercy Theatre, we welcomed an old friend back to the stage. I, too, felt like I was being woken up again after a haze of travel, post-travel/event-blues, family drama mixed with matzah, and the yearning for spring weather that is so very close yet not quite here. After meeting up with a flurry of friendly faces at the nearby Grand Saloon, I entered the Gramercy with excitement. Not only to be out in public with real people that are not figments of my imagination, but to see someone I missed very much whether I realized it or not.

Page McConnell may have lost his spark somewhere along the way in Phish-world. Just go back and listen to a "Bathtub Gin" from 10 or 12 years ago and you realize that something died at some point. Even during hiatus when they all tried new things, the Vida Blue project was really questionable. Then, after the break, after we watched him fight his way through tears and years of emotion to get through "Velvet Sea," Page seemed to drop completely off the radar. He popped up again last summer to get on stage with the GRAB boys and his current band gave it a whirl at moe.down. It was at the very least good to know that he was alive and that he was still playing but what the heck was really going on with him?

Now, we find him back in action with a new album he's been working on for a seemingly long time. I have not heard any of it at all so this was kind of a preview for me for the Season of Page. Last night, I went towards the front with a good phriend (the whole place was Page-side if you think about it!), and could not wipe the smile off my face when the Chairman of the Boards took his position behind the keys. As I said, I haven't heard the new album so I won't try to analyze the songs at this point but the lyrics seemed to be very exposed. Every now and then, Page would be workin' it out and his eyes would gingerly look up at the crowd who cheered at every opportunity and he'd give us that smile.

I loved the songs - many of them put him in the category of the great piano-lead bands we grew up with like Elton and Billy. Some songs were very Broadway which made way more sense when Page was delivering than Trey delivering songs of similar style. Hm... Maybe Phish should reform to create the great rock opera of the 21st century? I digress... But the jams, man, that was all Phish. There was lots of room for rocking out which the band did amazingly well. Major props go out to Jared Slomoff who sang, played guitar and Rhodes along with Page and complemented him wonderfully. The rest of the band, Adam Zimmon (guitar from Spam Allstars), Rob O'Dea (bass player and ex-Phish production dude), and Gabe Jarrett (drummer from Vermont family and Vorcza) were there for Page 100% and made the show really exciting.

And then, during one of the pretty parts, I remembered what I loved so much about Page. When all was swirling and maddening back in the day, there was still a whimsical, happy place to go when you would hear the twinkle twinkle from the piano. Yes, good ol' Mister Twinklefingers is back and I couldn't be happier about it.

The show was short and sweet and the crowd stayed strong for Page. He sated the phamished crowd during the encore with a solo "Strange Design" which chokes me up right now just thinking about it. Throughout the night, many old friends were reunited unexpectedly and now linking arms with "companions" from years ago... it was a beautiful thing.

Thanks for an awesome night, Page. I'm really happy for you (and us) and can't wait to see you again on your June tour!


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