June 9, 2007
After stints in Phish and Vida Blue, the anticipation level of a Page McConnell concert in Cincinnati is always fierce. McConnell admitted as much on June 9 as he toured behind his self-titled solo recording, and had a kind word for the facility that hosted both of his former bands.
"I love playing Bogarts," McConnell gushed with an ear to ear grin on his face as his ensemble began the funky rhythmic structures of "Heavy Rotation." The energized mass on the floor settled in with the groove, arms and legs flailing to the staccato tempos and drifting melodies.
McConnell’s solo work has been consistent, providing an undercurrent of strong musical composition and layered improvisation that has, in time, exposed the depth of his range and contribution to the inner sonic mechanics that was Phish’s broad rock and roll sound. Beside the extensive jamming on "Rotation," McConnell treated the Cincy crowd to the laidback ballad "Maid Marian."
But, it was the pounding chord changes of "Back in the Basement" that proved to be the highlight of the night, pushing both his group and the audience into a state of blissful nirvana, accentuated by his delicately balanced keyboard playing. Indeed, by the time McConnell ended the show with the opening track, "Beauty of a Broken Heart," the bonding connection between the two forces (band and crowd) was complete. The only question was what McConnell’s choice of encore was going to be.
There were those expecting one of the many covers he perfected performing live with Phish, while others were hoping for a Phish track to take on the road back with them. But, McConnell, ever steeped in the element of surprise, broke into an electrified version of "Most Events Aren’t Planned" from Vida Blue’s debut disc, stunning the Bogarts’ denizens who left the club with a heightened sense of contentment and eagerness to seek out an after show activity to indulge in after Page McConnell’s triumphant performance in Cincinnati on June