On Friday evening, Trey Anastasio began the final three-night stretch of his ongoing solo acoustic/storytime tour with a performance at Durham, NC’s Carolina Theatre. The first of Trey’s two North Carolina concerts this weekend was also the first of his February solo acoustic run to not feature any acoustic tour debuts or new songs. However, Trey seemed notably comfortable and at home onstage all night, offering up enough great playing and nostalgic anecdotes to make this show just as special as the previous six acoustic gigs he’s played over the past week-and-change.
Trey explained the main reason behind his Carolina comfort early on in the show:
Funny as this may sound, this feels sorta like a hometown gig for me…My sister lived in [nearby] Carrboro…We lost her a few years ago, but my nephew is here tonight, my amazing nephew, Jason…I’m shouting you out, I know it’s embarrassing…I spent a lot of time down here and I love it.
Trey eased into the show with a string of tunes he’s played frequently over the course of this tour, including “More”, “Water In The Sky”, “Wolfman’s Brother” (featuring hilariously candid commentary throughout), and “Brian and Robert”. “The Inlaw Josie Wales” came next, marking the instrumental’s sixth performance over the course of this tour’s first seven shows. The late-90’s tune has remained a go-to pick for alternative Trey projects like acoustic gigs and orchestral concerts despite the fact that it’s been absent from the Phish arena since the last run of 1.0 era (10/6/00).
Before the next song, “Blaze On”, Trey reminisced about his experience opening for The Rolling Stones with Trey Anastasio Band at the nearby Wallace Wade Stadium on 10/8/05:
You guys know Wallace Wade Stadium at Duke? [crowd cheers]. It’s close to here, right? I warmed up for the Stones there [laughs]. That was an incredible experience, I gotta tell ya…It was 2005. You guys remember 2005? I don’t have much memory of 2005…that was a bad year. But I did warm up for the Stones!
It’s funny…warming up for the Stones is like meeting Mickey Mouse or something. Like, you go behind the curtain and you see all this stuff that you never thought you would see…It’s not what you think [crowd laughs]. You guys are probably thinking one thing and it wasn’t that, it was a whole different thing. But it was…I guess I don’t wanna give away all their secrets or anything. But you kinda go back and there’s, like, makeup chairs and stuff [laughs]…I’m not kidding!…
One of the things that really impressed me–blew my mind, actually–was that they had three full-time women…They had boxes of clothes that every designer on the planet had sent, all these free clothes, hoping that the Stones will wear them because I’m guessing that if Mick Jagger walks out onstage with your shirt on or something, it gets in a magazine or whatever. I just didn’t quite expect it. I mean, there were, like, thousands…boxes and boxes of clothes…and these women would lay out their clothes for the night based on what the costume changes are gonna be and everything.
But the funniest part for me…I was thrilled, the guitar tech took me up onstage and he said, “Do you wanna touch the Telecaster from Exile on Main Street?” And I was like, “Yes I do! I sure do!” [cheers]. So he took me back and I touched the guitar that, like, invented everything I care about [laughs]…other than, you know, my family…
He then went on to pull back the “curtain” on warming up for the Rolling Stones:
They have this room…like a cool room with a pool table…like a cool “hangout room.” And [when you’re] the warmup band, you go in there and they put you in front of the pool table [to take a photo]…and there’s a pipe and drape, so there’s just like a sheet hanging. … On the other side of the seat, [I] hear the Stones, like, gathering, and a guy says [whispering] “His name is Trey…” [laughs].
Interestingly, one of their backup singers, Lisa Fischer, had sung on my album, on “Night Speaks To A Woman” and “Money, Love & Change”. But she does so many sessions that, of course, she doesn’t remember that either. … [whispering again] “You sang on his album…” And I can hear all of this [laughing]…
So they have all this stuff on from the women with the boxes, and [the photographer] has us stand by the pool table, and they open the curtain, and the Rolling Stones, en masse–the whole band, as the Rolling Stones…in full Rolling Stones regalia, with the drink, and the cigarette and everything–come through the door, and they’re like [in a familiar tone], “Trey!”, like I’m their best friend [laughs].
And Keith Richards came over to me and he put his hands on me and was like “Trey, how’re ya doing”… [I’m] like “I’m great, Keith! You’ve been thinking about me, eh? You missed me and everything…” [laughs]. And they turn around for the guy to take the picture, and then vwoop, they’re gone [laughs]. It was perfect! That’s the thing, don’t get me wrong, it was exactly what I wanted…
After a spooky, extended “Blaze On”, Trey rode the fading sonics of the tune into “Farmhouse”, which featured a beautiful loop- and sustain-assisted ending jam of its own. A sing-along “Backwards Down The Number Line” followed. Next, Trey served up the expected rendition of “Miss You”, the tune he wrote about his late sister whom he’d mentioned earlier in the show.
Trey went on to once again mention his recently departed lifelong friend, Chris Cottrell, before playing “Till We Meet Again”, a tune he wrote for Cottrell. It’s been painfully apparent all tour how profoundly Cottrell’s loss has affected Trey. In Durham, he commented on his final decision about the song’s title, which was initially unclear: “I decided to call it ‘Till We Meet Again’, because that’s what I want.”
The show bobbed and bounced on from there with “The Wedge” and “Bouncing Around The Room”, followed by well-received renditions of “Free”, “Strange Design”, “Tube”, and “Waste”. Without skipping a beat, Trey moved into The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday favorite “The Lizards”, singing the song’s usual climactic guitar solo a la Phish’s “Space Oddity” a cappella arrangement. From there, a jazzy, extended rendition of “Fuego” provided perhaps the biggest musical highlight of the evening (a must-listen) before another Gamehendge favorite, “Wilson”, closed the set on a strong note.
When Trey returned to the stage for his encore, he provided one more moment of levity before the show’s end, musing about what his title would be if the world mirrored Game of Thrones, dropping in Phish lyrical references at a rate that would make Katy Tur proud, the crowd cheering louder with each one. He declared:
I wish [I had] that woman who stands next to me like Daenerys Stormborn. They’d come out and announce me with one of those, like, Game of Thrones names. … “You’re listening to Trey of the House of Phish, with the Blood of the Ocelot, Third of his Name, The Completely Burnt, King of Prussia, The Divider of Skies, The Family Berserker, Jezmund of the Velvet Sea, Protector of The Book, Trampler of Hounds and Pecker of Doves, Yanker of Tunics and Dangler of Stash, King of the Andals…and the First Tube…Melter of Faces, and Father of Lizards!”…People don’t have enough names these days, that’s the problem…
Trey finally returned to the stage for a three-song encore, including “Sleeping Monkey”, “Bathtub Gin”, and “Chalkdust Torture”. After beginning “Sleeping Monkey”, Page McConnell‘s well-documented favorite song, Trey stopped to reminisce about Phish’s past and profess his love and appreciation for his bandmates after decades together. “I love those guys so much,” he said sincerely, “All three of them.”
Trey Anastasio – “Rolling Stones Warmup Band Story”
Trey Anastasio – “Miss You”
Trey Anastasio – “Till We Meet Again”
Trey Anastasio – “Tube”
Trey Anastasio – “Waste”
Trey Anastasio – “Game of Thrones Name Declaration”
SETLIST: Trey Anastasio (Solo Acoustic) | Carolina Theatre | Durham, NC | 2/16/18
SET: More, Water In The Sky, Wolfman’s Brother, Brian & Robert, The Inlaw Josie Wales, Blaze On > Farmhouse, Backwards Down The Number Line, Miss You, Till We Meet Again, The Wedge, Bouncing Around The Room, Free, Strange Design, Tube, Waste, The Lizards, Fuego, Wilson
ENCORE: Sleeping Monkey, Bathtub Gin, Chalkdust Torture
The final weekend run of Trey Anastasio solo acoustic tour will continue tonight, February 17th, with a performance at the Knight Theatre in Charlotte before wrapping up at the Classic Center in Athens, GA tomorrow, Sunday, February 18th. For more information, head here.
Trey Anastasio Upcoming Solo Acoustic Dates
Feb. 17 – Charlotte, NC – Knight Theatre
Feb. 18 – Athens, GA – Classic Center