Phish guitarist and New York City resident Trey Anastasio kicked off his eight-week virtual residency at the Beacon Theater last night, delivering the kind of live music we’re all starving for right now. Appropriately named “The Beacon Jams,” this Friday night, and the next seven as well, will serve as a weekly musical oasis for a world currently deprived of massive live shows and indoor concerts. Broadcast by twitch.tv, Trey and friends delivered two-plus hours of music spanning the musician’s prolific career.
Tonight’s performance was essentially a stripped down version of the current Trey Anastasio Band configuration. Longtime stalwarts Tony Markellis and Russ Lawton manned the bass and drums, respectively. Cyro Baptista was behind the percussion kit, and delightfully present and high in the mix all night. And a spry Ray Paczkowski added his signature sound on keys for most of the night. Jeff Tanski, a friend, theatrical collaborator and fellow NYC resident, would also sit in on piano for a few songs.
One of the more interesting aspects of the show was that instead of a typical stage setup with the band facing the seats, the back of the stage was opened up entirely for the cameras and the band faced the opposite direction. With the majestic yet empty Beacon Theater as the backdrop, the night started off aptly with “Corona.” Making its first live appearance since a 4/27/18 Trey show in New Orleans, this set the tone nicely with a short but passionate outburst of a jam.
The “Blaze On” that followed carried things even further. Cyro and his wearable rub board gave it a nice percussive touch early. And the extended jam that ensued had everyone getting in on it courtesy of rotational solos before Trey put the finishing touches on it.
He had a noticeably fun time all night “breaking the fourth wall” after songs and mentioning/thanking the twitch chat room that was shown in front of him on a monitor. and mentions/thanks the chat room. After some playful banter, it was time for “I Never Left Home,” one of the many new Trey songs from his new Lonely Trip album that was recently produced and released while in quarantine. The echoe-y vocal effects and spellbinding dark and psychedelic jam that this evoked in its first live showing just oozes with Phish potential.
The ensuing “Soul Planet” featured another extended jam, this time fueled by Russ on drums. Trey then took a quick moment between songs to read some more chat room messages and also wish his Mom a happy birthday. Jeff Tanski then came out for “Shade” on piano with Ray moving over to the organ.
“Dark and Down,” a classic TAB song then followed before the debut of another Lonely Trip song “A Wave of Hope.” The upbeat lyrics and positive sentiment noting “this too shall pass” carried right over into the next song, “If I Could See The World,” another new Lonely Trip number.
Things then shifted from inspirational to funky through the “Sand” that followed. With Ray heavy on the clav per usual. this one is given the full treatment with pulsating rhythm supplied by Russ and Tony and another passionate Trey solo on top of it all.
One of the true highlights of the evening was the “Stash” that immediately followed. This would be the only “old school” Phish song played tonight and it was anything but traditional. Trey was only accompanied by Jeff Tanski on piano and Cyro who added a mesmerizing percussive element simply by clapping along in various rhythms. This all served to create an acoustic “Stash” of sorts that is a must hear.
The Phish vibes were out once again in full force in the “Everything’s Right” that came later. Cyro began this one with what seemed to be percussive ping-pong paddles of some sort before a Russ shuffle beat steered the song into its familiar beginning.
Although he never left the stage, some true acoustic songs seemed to begin the unofficial “encore.” This included a tender rendition of “The Inlaw Josie Wales,” a song Phish hasn’t tackled in 20 years, although it does get some run through TAB. This also gave Trey a chance to talk about the rehabilitation house that proceeds from this residency are going towards, obviously a project near and dear to Trey’s heart.
“46 Days” saw the rest of the band then come out and finish things off in style. This marked the end of night one with another seven Friday nights of Beacon Jams lined up to follow. It’s fairly clear that each night will feature new guests, stories and interaction with Trey via twitch, and live music that’s good for the soul.
Trey Anastasio “Beacon Jams” Beacon Theater – New York, NY 10/9/20
Corona > Blaze On, I Never Left Home , Soul Planet, Shade , Dark and Down, A Wave of Hope, If I Could See The World > Sand, Stash , When the Words Go Away , Everything’s Right > …And Flew Away, The Inlaw Josie Wales , Sunset Days , 46 Days
 Jeff Tanski on piano.
 Only Trey, Jeff Tanski on piano, and Cyro clapping.
 Debut; Trey solo acoustic.
 Only Trey on acoustic and Jeff Tanski on piano.
 Trey solo acoustic.