It’s been nearly eight years since Trey Anastasio took the hallowed stage of Red Rocks. While that performance was with Phish, this time around Trey played to a sold out crowd at the famed venue with his amazing eight-piece band. With the unofficial start of summer just the weekend before it really felt like one of those summer nights at Red Rocks you dream about. The weather was near perfect, with no rain except for a few pleasant sprinkles near the end, and the crowd was jubilant. Trey Anastasio Band was cookin’ and road-tested from their recent run of theatres and festival plays. Luckily, AXS was on hand to capture the magic. Be sure to check our amazing photo gallery above by Kevin Staunton.
Adding to the amazing night was opening act Vulfpeck. Vulf are groove monsters so deep in the pocket they have to dodge loose change and lint balls. Sweetening the deal even further was the fact that Trey Anastasio sat in with the band during their tune “Rango” and a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Will You Be There.” Vulfpeck got things going with crowd favorites like “Back Pocket,” “Beastly” and “Christmas in L.A.” The band closed their set with the galloping “Dean Town.” After Vulfpeck, people were ready to get down.
TAB took the stage and got things kicked off with the funky rocker “Pigtails,” and trombone player Natalie Cressman shone on “Mozambique.” Things got groovy as the band slipped into the crowd pleasing “Sand.” While TAB is less jammy then Phish—and that is certainly in a relative sense—“Sand” saw the band jamming a bit, a trend that would continue when the vehicle was right. Trey seemed to be having a blast, at one point taking a moment to just admire the beautiful place he found himself in.
The party really got started when Trey rolled into the opening lick of “Cayman Review.” The Cabo Wabo was everywhere. Things got jazzy with “Magilla,” a song written by Phish keyboardist Page McConnell, followed by a rollicking “Money, Love and Change. TAB newcomer James Casey absolutely went off on the baritone sax on “MLC.” Natalie stepped up to the plate again to sing Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still.” A poignant “Makes No Difference” (band cover) led into a rowdy Burlap “Sack and Pumps.” TAB closed out the first set with the fan favorite “Gotta Jibboo,” with Trey and keyboardist Ray Paczkowski trading licks.
The second set got underway with the relatively new tune “Everything’s Right.” “Night Speaks to a Woman” kicked off a sweet run of “Tuesday,” “In Rounds,” Leon Russell’s “Delta Lady” “Valentine,” “Drifting” and “Architect.” Next came a jammy and raucous “Plasma.” Trumpet player Jen Hartswick stepped to the mic for the Gorillaz “Clint Eastwood” ahead of a rowdy “Mr. Completely,” which saw some amazing playing from Trey, Jen and Natalie. Tab put the second set to bed with the acapella “The Parting Glass,” a traditional Irish song.
The band kicked off the encore with “First Tube." Bass player Tony Markellis—the “heart and soul” of TAB as Trey remarked—rolled his rock solid bass line while Trey stepped into his Jedi role wielding his guitar like a light saber cascading a cacophony of cosmic sound. As if that wasn’t enough, TAB then launched into Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused,” sung by Jen Hartswick. Jen slayed the song, emulating Robert Plant’s shadowing of Jimmy Page’s wailing guitar. It was fuego, and so was the rest of the show. There were smiles all around as 9,525 happy campers headed out into a beautiful night at Red Rocks.