The dissolution of Phish left a goodly portion of jam band nation with feelings of loss and lack of direction — and prompted outsiders to wonder which band would be the lucky recipient of the pent-up adoration the quartet left behind. While the relative conciseness — poppiness, even — of “Shine,” his first post-Phish solo album, wouldn’t seem to paint that band’s guitarist, Trey Anastasio, as a prime contender, this Gotham perf went a long way toward doing just that.
Backed by 70 Volt Parade, the same band that backed him on “Shine,” Anastasio opened the gig with a loose-limbed “Air Said to Me,” through which he snaked a solo that moved like some sort of altered-state conga line. That suppleness extended through much of the set’s early segment, with Anastasio leaning lightly into the melodies of songs like “Sweet Dreams Melinda,” only to sharpen up palpably on a fiery version of the Phish favorite “46 Days.”
Anastasio’s band has gelled with surprising ease. While they’re not nearly as given over to improvisational runs as his old mates, they did manage to concoct some intriguing end-arounds during “Simple Twist Up Dave” and “Mr. Completely.” Both had a welcomingly homespun feel.
But when Anastasio attempted to carry the show alone, as he did during a seemingly interminable five-song solo interlude plopped down square in the middle of the two-hour perf, he gave off the air of a man who’d taken a wrong turn at his local open mic space and ended up on a theater-sized stage.
Perf’s second foray into acoustic territory proved much more intriguing — in large part due to the presence of fellow Phish expat Page McConnell, who laced old favorites like “Waste” with his typically offbeat piano licks. The two musicians didn’t treat the meeting like a class reunion but picked up the sonic thread as if they were restarting a conversation ended mid-sentence months back — a dialogue that ended with an exclamation point, thanks to a skronky mad dash through “First Tube.”
Anastasio plays the Wiltern in Los Angeles on Dec. 7.