Mike Gordon kicked off the final weekend of his tour this past weekend, which has been getting some buzz in the Phish community, with a show at the historic Tarrytown Music Hall. Along with bandmates Scott Murawski, Craig Myers, Tom Cleary and Todd Isler, Gordon has been touring in support of his latest studio album Overstep, performing it extensively on this tour with all but three tracks performed at the Music Hall. With the absence of a parking lot and decent weather to hang outside in before the show, a slight delay in the start (possibly due to some last-minute rehearsals with a special guest) seemed to be welcomed by the crowd who quickly settled down and enjoyed conversations with each other in the theater.
Eager for the show to start, the audience cheered as the stage was dimmed to a purple and the band made their way out with Gordon’s glowing scarf hard to miss. The first set kicked off with the first track off Overstep, “Ether,” an extended noise/sound effect intro recreated live by Gordon playing around with a speed drill near his bass’ pickup. “Yarmouth Road,” one of the two songs on the album with a reggae feel, was played in its studio fashion with the crowd digging the added 90’s ska interlude toward the end. “Yarmouth Road,” by the way, was first debuted with Phish at SPAC July 5, 2013.
There were some hushed mutterings before the show that Trey was backstage and would be sitting in for some portion of the show. This wouldn’t have seemed too far-fetched either as Trey resides somewhat locally in nearby Manhattan. It was obvious though that this was to the crowd at large a big surprise as the theater erupted when Trey was introduced and took his spot between Scott Murawski and Gordon. Murawski started off the Talking Heads tune “Cities” with Trey joining in quite forcefully after resolving a guitar glitch. This one got jammy with Trey and Scott trading solos in a call-and-response and dueling fashion. Trey stuck around to take the lead in the jam section of one of Gordon’s new tracks, “Tiny Little World,” to close out the first set. While some people were chatting during the intermission about what Phish song they’d like to hear if Trey were to come back out in the second set, they would soon find out they would have to wait until July to hear live Phish from the source.
Not only was the music a focal point of the show, but both sets also flaunted a high-tech display of lights and projections that took advantage of the smaller stage setup, different that what would be practical at a large-venue Phish concert. Gordon and Murawski both sported custom-made guitars that would light up with LEDs at times during the show while the stage was dark giving a vague effect that they were being played by ghosts or while cast in front of psychedelic patterns. Gordon also debuted a crowd interactive instrument, the “EEL” as he called it. A MIDI controller that spanned the width of the stage, this strip resembled an oversized keyboard that the lucky front row could tap on when Gordon’s band triggered it on. Its sound sets (i.e., piano or Hammond Keys) were controlled by the band’s audio engineer and changed periodically while the audience was tapping away. One of the times the EEL was active was during “Peel” in the first set and again at the open of the second set – we have a short video excerpt of this in “Peel” later on. Gordon also incorporates something else a little different for a jam band type show: MIDI triggers on his and Murawski’s mic stands which allowed them to play a sound or an effect tapping it with their hand. All of this combined added an interesting twist to the experience of the show.
Gordon’s stop in Tarrytown, and his whole tour for that matter, was a pleasant bridge in the gap between Phish’s NYE show and the start of their summer tour, July 1 at the Xfinity Center and their three night run at SPAC July 3-5. It gave fans a chance to see another side of Phish: one free of large crowds, potentially questionable weather, and ultimately the creativity of Gordon separate from his role in his native band.
Set I: Ether; Cruel World, Yarmouth Road, Different World, Pretty Boy Floyd, Spock’s Brain, Face; Peel, Cities^, Tiny Little World^
Set II: Long Black Line, Crumblin’ Bones, Barton Hollow, Angatta, Spiral, Jumping, Traveled Too Far; She Said She Said>Tomorrow Never Knows>Are You a Hypnotist?>Tomorrow Never Knows>She Said She Said>Traveled Too Far, Say Something
Encore: Soulfood Man>Alphabet Street
^with Trey Anastasio