Trey Anastasio has spent the last several months in his New York apartment, recording the raw, lo-fi album Lonely Trip. But on Tuesday, he ventured out to become late-night television’s first in-person guest since March, performing his excellent new song “I Never Needed You Like This Before” with the Roots on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The episode airs on Tuesday at 11:35 p.m. ET on NBC.
Anastasio showed up at New York’s Rockefeller Center alone, according to a source, with his amp and guitar. After taking a COVID-19 test and testing negative, he took the elevator upstairs to play with the Roots. Rather than performing in the Tonight Show‘s usual studio 6B, they chose studio 6A, Conan O’Brien’s old studio, where it was easier to socially distance.
It was worth all the trouble: Anastasio and the Roots’ performance was full of power and swagger, Anastasio and drummer Questlove locked in for a fiery instrumental jam. They looked happy to be back.
Anastasio recorded “I Never Needed You Like this Before” and the rest of Lonely Trip in the weeks after New York shut down, sending ideas back and forth with collaborators Tom Marshall and Scott Herman. “It felt therapeutic to write,” Anastasio said. “I wanted to connect with our community in some way. The unplanned nature of the recording meant I didn’t have a lot of gear during this process. I had an electric and an acoustic guitar, a small amp, two microphones, some percussion, and two keyboards, including an old Kurzweil with very realistic drum sounds on it. Everything was recorded through a Spire 8-track. Lonely Trip is truly a raw, low-fi recording.” The album is only available digitally; it can be heard here.