Fusion tribute band, Pink Talking Fish, offered a special treat for fans during their sold out Boston performance at The Paradise Rock Club on May 6. As the group took to the stage they were joined by sax player Matt Wayne, and the Giant Country Horns, who famously backed Phish during their 1991 summer tour. Wayne skillfully composed all the horn compositions for the night’s set list. In addition, he traded in his usual horn for the baritone sax, as Dave Grippo’s instrument of choice is the alto sax. The Giant Country Horns consist of Grippo, Russell Remington on tenor sax, and Carl Gerhard on trumpet. This solid horn section stood on risers behind the members of Pink Talking Fish, which consist of Eric Gould on bass, Dave Brunyak on guitar, Richard James on keys, and Zack Burwick on drums.
The group charged right into a jazzed up version of Phish’s “Landlady,” complete with dancing steps by Gould and Brunyak. Heavy horns got the crowd in an engaging mood from the get go. The steamy energy in the room continued as they flowed into the Talking Heads “Nothing But Flowers.” Burwick added an island touch on drums as the melody melted into an extended jam. Brunyak took his guitar on an easy ride through the tune, ensuring fans were given a hefty dose of improvisation early on.
Burwick led the entrance into the next song as a drum-heavy intro for Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine” took over. Massive horns kicked in, rounding out the heady flavor to the melody. The entourage of musicians then blasted full steam ahead into a double whammy that featured a sandwiching of “Lizards” with “Girlfriend is Better” stuffed in the middle. Hints of “Gumbo” teased the audience but the party kept going as Floyd’s “Money” blasted out in all its glory. Most of the horn section left the stage for the majority of the song, with the exception of Remington on sax. As the song rolled along to the backend, the complete horn section rejoined the band on stage, as “As She Was” absolutely begged for a brass-filled jam.
A clean finishing “Gumbo,” followed by Grippo showcasing his talent on sax during “Have A Cigar,” had the audience fully primed and charged up. A jazzed up first set closed out with a double decker duo of awesome featuring “Slippery People” and “Suzy Greenberg.”
After a much needed break, second set blasted wide open with “Burning Down The House,” stacked with horns blaring and fans jumping up and down. Phish’s “Tweezer” was cranked out, stuffed thick with keys pounded out by James, and a plethora of slick brass rounding out the spaces in the melody. Grippo let loose on sax and blazed a lay of the land with a quick walk around the stage as fierce notes flew out from his instrument.
Taking the intensity down a notch, Brunyak and James flowed into darker tones by easing into Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” The mood in the room tensed up as mysterious vibes shared by the keys and guitar danced around each other. With Brunyak’s locks on full flow mode, and a slight hesitation before the tune picked up, touches of James’ keys gently chimed in, swaying the song towards an energetic pace. The horns behind added extra punch, as if the brass tones should naturally have always been there to begin with. Wayne busted out his chops on sax briefly before Remington took over and ran with the song on tenor.
Brunyak took lead on vocals during a playful “Found A Job.” Screaming horns filled in the spaces throughout, before a chilled out “Wolfman’s Brother” took hold. “Run Like Hell” ran like hell with excessive energy throughout the walls of the venue. The powerful horns continued to bring magic to an already mystical flow throughout the set. Without skipping a beat, the music melded into “Making Flippy Floppy,” with James taking lead on vocals. Midway through, the vocals flipped over to Gould, making sure the song stayed true to its flip flop roots. Brunyak broke a string and, without skipping a beat, switched out guitars while the audience barely took notice. The tune was spiced up with a touch of salsa before coming to completion.
The epitome of a brass, bass, and guitar heavy tune sneaked onto the set as “Frankenstein” reared its head, demanding attention by fans in the venue. The jam did not disappoint as heavy crunches of guitar and clean chops from the brass section blew the roof off the venue. Cheers and hollers coming from the crowd almost drowned out the band. The extended jam, complete with in-your-face drums, horns that wouldn’t quit, and an extra serving of spice delivered by James on keys, held all the ingredients for an epic end to second set. Encore brought out the big guns, as “Golgi Apparatus,” “Cavern,” and “Tweezer Reprise” neatly brought the fired up show to a magnificently splendid close. With the Giant Country Horns filling in the spaces, and adding the perfect blend to Pink Talking Fish’s performance, we can only hope this brass trio make more appearances with the band down the road.
Set 1: The Landlady , Nothing But Flowers> Astronomy Domini> The Lizards> Girlfriend Is Better> The Lizards, Money> And She Was, Gumbo, Have A Cigar> Slippery People> Suzy Greenberg
Set 2: Burning Down The House#, Tweezer@> Shine On You Crazy Diamond> Found A Job, Wolfman’s Brother> Run Like Hell> Making Flippy Floppy%> Frankenstein
Encore: Golgi Apparatus> Cavern > Tweezer Reprise
# w/ Possum tease
@ w/ Lullaby of Birdland tease
% w/ Rift and Caravan tease
Click here for the audio of the event!