Trey Anastasio had the honor of being the first musician to perform live, in-studio on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon since March on Tuesday, as the Phish guitarist played “I Never Needed You Like This Before” alongside house band The Roots.
The song comes from Trey’s new Lonely Trip solo album, which he surprise-released last month. The 15-track album features a collection of songs that the Phish frontman recorded in his New York City apartment during quarantine in the spring which he gradually released on social media. Host Jimmy Fallon jokingly mentioned, “I’m the only person who has this album, because it doesn’t exist,” as he held a fake vinyl cover of the record–Lonely Trip is available only digitally at the moment.
Trey reportedly showed up to Rockefeller Center alone with just his guitar and amplifier, according to Rolling Stone. Once at the studio, he was tested for COVID-19 at the door and, when his test came back negative, boarded the elevator up to the studio. Rather than performing in The Tonight Show‘s studio 6B, they opted for 6A–Conan O’Brien‘s old stage–because of an upper balcony that makes it easier to socially distance.
As for the performance itself, a shaggy-haired Trey appeared to put five months of pent-up energy, anger, anxiety, and more into the stomping rocker of a tune. One of the most highly anticipated parts of the performance was not only Trey playing live again, but also that he would be alongside The Roots. Anastasio was indeed in good hands as he even got locked in an instrumental back-and-forth with drummer Questlove at one point. While Trey did a fine job of overdubbing his own voice on the song at his apartment and adding a drum machine, live vocal and instrumental contributions from The Roots showed whenever the day comes that Phish returns, “I Never Needed You Like This Before” could translate into some powerful, if brief, first set jams.
Watch Trey Anastasio perform “I Never Needed You Like This Before” with The Roots on last night’s episode of The Tonight Show.
Trey Anastasio, The Roots – “I Never Needed You Like This Before” – The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (8/11/20)