Steve Miller came up as a mostly generic San Francisco blues rocker -- a deeply unpsychedelic comtemporary of the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Jefferson Airplane. In the early 70s he had a bad car wreck and broke his neck. After a couple years off, he returned with a record called "The Joker," the title track of which became a fluke number-one single. Then he disappeared again. He spent the next three years in his studio meticulously crafting the Fly Like an Eagle LP, which updated his sound with pop moves and synthesizers and hit massively in the summer of 1976. Two of the record's three top-five singles were the chugging robo-boogie "Rock 'N Me" and the incoherent crime narrative "Take the Money and Run." Maybe you've heard them. The third big hit was the title track, whose long, ethereal, instantly recognizable synthesizer intro was genuinely startling at the time and quickly came to dominate classic rock radio (and for years after). (My first steady babysitter, Peggy Pinnell, identified it as her favorite song and even sang me the chorus.)
Page played "Fly Like an Eagle" at consecutive Vida Blue shows in July 2002, but the tune didn't really suit his vocal range and it was quickly dropped. So it wasn't a big shock that Trey took over vocal duties for the debut Phish performance during NYE 2012's golf-themed third set. I wouldn't score it two under par, especially since they omitted the intro, but like that entire show it was an awful lot of fun.
At first I was kinda blown that they aborted the first ever Wedge jam for a pretty weird segue into Fly Like A F'n Eagle of all songs... But on subsequent listens, it seems like Page attempted to start kicking in the MOOG bubbles for a smooth -> into the intro but his keys didn't respond to his tender ministrations until the middle of the song for one reason or another.
So just get another version of that jam in your mind, where Page starts adding crazy synth sounds around 8 minutes into the Wedge, and that jam just gets deeper and deeper for another couple minutes until right when it seems like the jam is fizzling Page kicks in the iconic Fly Like A F'n Eagle intro noises.
It's all about having that Alternate Timeline Phish show in your head.
Good review. This was a cool surprise NYE. Page's replication of the synth sound was pretty fun to hear. One correction: "Classic rock" as a marketing term wasn't coined until the late 80s. So while the song has been on the radio forever, at first it was on Top 40 (played alongside the disco of the era) and also on what was then called rock or AOR (Album Rock.) They didn't call it classic because it was still basically new.