1. First Tube

2. Water In The Sky

3. Divided Sky

4. Brian and Robert

5. Goodbye Head

6. Guyute

7. Let me Lie

8. Stash

9. Time turns elastic

10. If I Could

11. YEM

12. Abbey Road Medley

13. Inlaw Josie Wales

Hippies of the world, Dress Up!!!! Get out your best suits and dresses, because it is time to show the rest of the music world that we can class it up too.

On a relatively mild night in Denver, Trey Anastasio of Phish brought his very short, and intimate Winter Symphony Tour to Boettcher Hall at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. It may not be the first time that Anastasio has performed with an orchestra, but it was evident that these particular shows differed from his previous performances.

In 2000, Trey performed “Guyute” with the Vermont Youth Orchestra a few times. The concept came fully into fruition at 2004′s Bonnaroo Music Festival, with him conducting the Nashville Chamber Orchestra in front of 80,000+ attendees. Anastasio has been working with arranger Don Hart for many years now, bringing these original tunes to experience another life with a backing orchestra. The work that these two have accomplished together is truly magnificent, and really show the true genius behind Anastasio’s compositions. Perhaps they put in more practice in creating these grand performances, or maybe this time there was just a deep mutual understanding of the compositions, but whatever it was set the tone for one of the most creatively toured projects Trey Anastasio has ever created.

Conductor Scott Dunn (who is lending his talents to this brief tour) led the 60-plus musician Colorado Symphony Orchestra through some of Trey’s most intricate pieces, and in spectacular fashion. “Brian and Robert” was simple, yet emotional. It translated well with the orchestra, and was truly beautiful. “Guyute” is an older Phish tune that really stands out among the rest as the perfect composition to be developed into a true orchestral piece; it simply takes on a life of its own. With the beautifully written violin parts, to the booming drums of the percussion section, it was very difficult for those in the audience to contain themselves. The audience participation during “Stash” with their perfectly-timed claps had many of the musicians smiling appreciatively. Though this was definitely NOT an everyday occurrence for musicians of their caliber and genre, it looked as if it the music resonated quite well with them.

Beginning the second set with the 30-minute opus “Time Turns Elastic”, Trey was locked in, ready to bring it. While this song has not been a fan-favorite at Phish shows by any stretch of the imagination since its introduction on 5/31/2009, it is quite obvious that this is an important piece to Anastasio. “TTE” was composed exactly for this setting, without a doubt; it was perfect in every sense of the word. It had space to breathe for everyone in attendance to truly listen and appreciate every note that Trey composed for this genre-bending piece. At one point, I sat back, closed my eyes and simply enjoyed the fact that I could do just that, without any surrounding noise to ruin what I was listening to. That’s not to say that there weren’t instances where certain folks felt compelled to yell out their “Ow Owwwwsss”, or “We love you Trey” during a perfectly silent part where most audiences would have known better than to do that, but overall most in attendance were surprisingly respectful and behaved with proper theatre etiquette.

“You Enjoy Myself” ended the second set, and brought about quite a few laughs out of the crowd when the trombone player did the vocal parts of the song with some over-emphasized notes. Anastasio ended “YEM” with a very different but very cool vocal jam, as he slowly strolled around on stage letting his notes be beautifully carried to the different parts of the venue. This was one of those instances where some fans could not hold in a yelp (thinking the song was done) during a very restrained, quiet part where most of us were straining to hear these notes. What can you expect? Some people just get lost in their excitement of all things Trey.

After a resounding round of applause, Anastasio and conductor Scott Dunn returned to the stage for a proper encore with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. An Abbey Road medley which consisted of of “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight” and “The End,” led into a beautifully played “Inlaw Josie Wales”, which ended this absolutely magnificent show.

I had the chance to see Trey perform some of these songs at Bonnaroo in 2004, and while that was epic on one level, seeing a show like this in its proper setting is that much better. It was refreshing to see a crowd that is typically going bonkers at a normal Phish show, dressed up in their finest attire for such an intimate performance. Hearing these songs performed by an actual orchestra is just truly mind opening. This was definitely one of the greatest shows that I have seen in awhile, and unlike any that I have ever been to. It certainly makes me want to go out and explore other orchestral performances. Maybe some Mozart, Beethoven, or Tchaikovsky next time? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps….

Written by Chris Meyer

Check our L4LM videos of “First Tube” (up top) and “Guyute” (down below) on the site. Also, at the beginning of the performance, we were told that this specific performance was being recorded. Keep an ear out to get a copy for a listen. We definitely recommend it.

Conductor – Scott Dunn

Arranged by – Don Hart