Trey Anastasio made his debut with the New York Philharmonic this past Saturday at New York’s Carnegie Hall. The performance was Anastasio’s latest collaboration with an orchestra—following shows with the Vermont Youth Symphony, Orchestra Nashville and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra—and featured reworked versions of a number of Phish staples arranged by Anastasio and Orchestra Nashville conductor Don Hart. Though the two-set performance was his first headlining show in the historic room, Anastasio previously appeared at Carnegie Hall in 1999 and 2005 at benefits for the Tibet House and 2004 with the Vermont Youth Orchestra.
The show opened with Anastasio alone onstage with the symphony’s string section for a version of “First Tube,” a number he first re-arranged this past spring for a performance with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Anastasio then led the string section through three additional songs that have become staples in the Phish guitarist’s orchestra sets: “The Inlaw Josie Wales” (first performed in an orchestral setting with the Vermont Youth Symphony in 2001), “Brian and Robert” (first performed in an orchestral setting with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2009), “The Divided Sky” (re-arranged by Hart for a performance at New York’s Webster Hall in 2006 and debuted in an orchestral setting with the Nashville Orchestra in 2008) and ““Water In the Sky” (first performed in an orchestral setting with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2009). The philharmonic’s brass and percussion sections then took the stage for “Pebbles and Marbles”—Anastasio’s latter day epic that was first reworked with a symphony as “Prologue” at the 2004 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and later as a complete multi-part movement with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2009. The set came to a close with the orchestral version of “Guyute” that Anastasio introduced in 2001.
Most of the New York Philharmonic’s second set was built around “Time Turns Elastic,” the new composition that Anastasio released as an orchestral movement earlier this year and on Phish’s Joy last week. In its orchestral format, the song includes several sections not included on Joy and stretched well past the 20-minute mark Saturday night. The extended movement was followed by a concise reading of “Let Me Lie” and, finally, the debut of Anastasio and Hart’s orchestrated “You Enjoy Myself.” The reworked song was an evening highlight, with the philharmonic’s brass section filling in gaps where Phish would place its vocals. At the end of the song, Anastasio even put down his guitar and moved to the front of the stage for a brief, solo vocal jam. Though not listed on the event’s program, the evening’s lone encore was a string-laced version of the rare Phish ballad “If I Could.”
Though Anastasio’s performance with the philharmonic left the audience with much to talk about, the evening’s other topic of conversation was the mass amount of nitrious oxide being sold and consumed out in the open outside the classy, Midtown New York venue.
HeadCount’s new blog discusses the problem in greater detail.