Review: Trey Anastasio Band at House of Blues, Orlando

A look back at the Tue., Feb. 11 show, with pics & setlist.



After checking out great and mind-blowing shows by two bands I'd never seen live before, it was nice to have that feeling of getting back to my roots with Trey Anastasio Band, which had drawn a healthy assemblage of music fans from Tampa Bay to House of Blues in Orlando (Lake Buena Vista) on Tuesday night for a few sets worth of shiny feel good vibes shared between friends and pham, fans and band.

Trey Anastasio, House of Blues, 2/11/2014
  • Phil Bardi
  • Trey Anastasio, House of Blues, 2/11/2014

[Warning: this is gonna a little fangirl; be prepared for some gush after the jump, along with more photos and the setlist... words by Leilani, photos by Phil]

Trey Anastasio and Ray Paczkowski
Tickets to the show had sold out that day and the male-dominated crowd of 2,500 (I'd put the ratio at 20-1 men to women, and that's being generous) packed the floor, swaying, moving, bobbing, grooving and even doing some European-style bouncing to TAB's fusion of tight swinging big band music, pulsing and shimmying Latin percussive jazz, Tower of Power/Chicago-style prog rock arrangements, slower-paced adult contemporary sentimeltalism/balladry sometimes driven by acoustic guitar melodies and earnest beseeching vocals, and a relevant nod to modern (and timeless) covers, all laced with grooving funkiness and delivered with upbeat vigor or poignant earnestness.

Tony Markellis, TAB
Phish and Trey's band are very different animals for obvious reasons, none the least of which is that Page, Mike and Jon aren't present, and there's not really jams per se, so much as extended passages directed by Trey. TAB — which he formed more than 15 years ago — finds him acting as a more traditional band leader as opposed to the integral cog to the greater Phish wheel, flexing his composition muscles in arrangements that include backing vocalists, percussion and a horn section, while dipping more deeply into his heart-on-sleeve sentimentalism. TAB has also been a platform of sorts for material he might end up playing with Phish, or conversely, an outlet for songs that only make occasional appearances on Phish setlists or songs he plays with Phish that get lightly re-arranged and boosted with brass in TAB. Some songs are better served in TAB, too; the grandiose big band swing of "Magilla" almost sounds naked without that bright boost of brass, something you don't realize until you hear it with accompaniment. (Anyone who's familiar with '90s-era Phish shows featuring Giant Country Horns knows what I'm talking about.) We were treated to a "Magilla" two songs deep into the set on this night, a particular treat that met with plenty of appreciative shouts and got the dance party off to an early start, as did all the crossover Phish-TAB fare.


The lineup has expanded, shrunk, morphed and changed names over the band’s tenure. Trey has toured in the "classic TAB" lineup of bassist Tony Markellis, drummer Russ Lawton, and keyboardist Ray Paczkowski for the past several years as supported by a three-piece horn/vocals section. Longtime TAB member Jennifer Hartswick has led the trio of late with her usual trumpet prowess and powerhouse gospel-belted vocals, while Natalie Cressman reprised her role on trombone; the youthful musician whose dad (Santana trombonist Jeff Cressman) was a onetime TAB member and who joined in 2010 at the fresh age of 18 owned her spot like a pro nearly four years later, even given a moment to shine and show off her bilingual chops during the Ana Tijoux cover, "1977," which found her delivering quick n' sweet spouts of rapped-sung vocals, en Español. (You might remember the song from an episode of HBO’s Breaking Bad.) Newest member and extended pedigree of the Lettuce/Soulive Royal Family, James Casey, filled the spot vacated by Russ Remington in 2013 and brought varying saxophone flavor to the mix, amping up to a John Zorn scream during a sax-axe battle with Trey in “Burlap Sack and Pumps.”

Natalie Cressman and Jennifer Hartswick, TAB
  • Phil Bardi
  • Natalie Cressman and Jennifer Hartswick, TAB

James Casey, TAB

From the moment he walked out onto the stage, singling-out fans in the crowd with small waves and full-on shit-eating grins, Trey had us eating out of the palm of his hand. He genuinely connects with his fans because he cares enough to make the effort, and you can really feel the joy he takes in what he does because he delivers it back in full when he plays. On this night, he claimed the room with his usual effervescent ease, fingers flying up and down the fret as he piloted the ensemble through a few sets of music, smiling out at the crowd, cutting up with his bandmates, and hopping up and down when he just couldn't contain himself any longer. Even the moments that maybe weren't so spontaneous (like how he riffed and scatted on his band members' nicknames during the cover of Gorillaz's "Clint Eastwood") still felt like they were, as did a maneuver he worked with a white spotlight shining on the body of his guitar and reflecting off in a glowing white beam of light that he, in turn, tilted to shine on and single-out select fans in the crowd, making for a few hilarious moments of Trey-fan interaction.

He even stopped and took the time to express sincere gratitude for having such a welcoming, encouraging fanbase, and thanked us for our enthusiasm towards TAB material debuted this tour, of which he played four songs on this night, including the good time-vibing "Bounce." They closed on a perfect blast of funky high-octane note-play with the always-welcome "Push on 'Til the Day," the night concluding around midnight, after 29 songs and nearly three hours of music. I left the venue feeling rather footsore but completely satisfied.

TAB, House of Blues, 2/11/2014

Sweet Dreams Melinda
Cayman Review
Spin >
Silver Smoke
Burlap Sack & Pumps
Money Love and Change

Night Speaks to a Woman
Last Tube>
Sometime After Sunset
Very Far Away
Gotta Jiboo >
Clint Eastwood (Gorillaz cover)
First Tube

1977 (Ana Tijoux cover)
A Case of Ice and Show
Push on 'Til the day

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