They say to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been. Widespread panic didn’t miss a step in their 30+ years of performing and certainly remember their roots as the band paid homage to their late mentors, influences and friends who are gone but not forgotten. At last night’s pre-Memorial Day show at Orion Amphitheater in Huntsville, AL, Widespread Panic honored Willie Dixon, Billy Joe Razor, Vic Chestnut, Daniel Hutchins, Colonel Bruce Hampton, Garrie Vereen, Todd Nanceand Michael Houser.
As Panic took the stage, an excited buzz began to ripple through the crowd at the sight of John Bell in an upside down hat. A show of upside-down hats in the Dirty South is the perfect setting for a scorching night of WSP tunes. Let’s get down to business, a condensed performance by Wray LinkThe instrumental “Rumble” opened the show before a frenzied “Conrad” sprang from its cocoon.
WSP’s Memorial Day tributes started pouring in when Willie Dixon’s “Weak Brain, Narrow Mind” led the way for Billy Joe Shaver’s “Chunk of Coal.” Follow, Dave SchoolsVocals and bouncy bass graced Vic Chesnutt with a hard-hitting rendition of “Sleeping Man.”
JoJo Hermann and his piano introduced and led the six-piece through “Jaded Tourist” before a sizzlin’ Jimmy Herring guitar solo cut through the mix. For only the third time in the band’s history, JB sang a Roadhouse rendition of Vic Chesnutt’s “Morally Challenged” with the geographically appropriate opening lyric, “She’s your grey-haired granny from Gadsden, Alabama.”
At the end of the first frame, WSP performed the newly inducted anthem “Trashy” as an emotional tribute to Daniel Hutchens of Bloodkin. Back-to-back originals “Jack > Love Tractor” closed the first frame with psychedelic revelry. Appropriate for Memorial Day, the lyrics to “Love Tractor” carried exceptionally significant weight, “I’ve got enough fuel this time to remember!”
Returning to the stage for the second set, Panic paid tribute to his late teammate Todd Nance with a performance of “Down”. This song, sung by Nance on the album, has been played six times since it was pulled from the shelf on June 25 last year. Red Rocks Amphitheater run after a seven-year hiatus.
A reggae version of Jerry Joseph’s “Chainsaw City” was performed (“No bad vibes!”) before WSP honored the loyal community with “Good People.” Breaking it down, JoJo led the audience through the twisting, shady alleyways to a fan-favorite “Dark Bar” midway through the song.
After “Cease Fire > Never Seen” – a nod to former road crew member Garrie Vereen – Widespread Panic morphed into a non-stop stream of jams as “Impossible” segues into a cover of David Earl Johnson“Time is free”. The cover was frequently covered by Colonel Bruce Hampton and radiated the Colonel’s cosmic inspiration with a jam “Zambi” and “Space is the Place.”
Without stopping, Panic plunges into the depths of a funky “Fishwater”, embellished with a Duane Trucks and Sunny Ortiz“Battery” section. After almost an hour of non-stop jamming, Widespread took a short break before closing the second set with “North” by Jerry Joseph.
To wrap up the weekend’s festivities, Widespread Panic paid tribute to their fallen founding comrades, Todd Nance and Michael Houser, with ‘Blue Indian’ and ‘Travellin’ Man’. To punctuate the Huntsville run with an exclamation mark, Panic performed a heartwarming “The Waker” to close out the weekend’s celebrations.
Another exhilarating weekend in the books with the Widespread Panic family in Alabama. Then panic on the rocks. Red Rocks Amphitheater i.e. June 24-26. The five nights rescheduled twice at beacon theater are expected to follow in mid-July and have postponed the Napa and New Years shows to fox theater are also on the horizon. For the full tour, click here. See you soon on the Rocks!
Full audio from the show is available below, along with a collection of fan-shot videos from YouTuber Fred Ramadan. Revisit live for live musicWidespread Panic’s coverage at the Orion Amphitheater Friday and Saturday.
Setlist: Widespread Panic | Orion Amphitheater | Huntsville, AL | 05/29/22
Series One: Rumble, Conrad, Weak Brain, Narrow Mind, Lump of Coal, Sleeping Man, Jaded Tourist, Moral Challenge, Trashy, Jack > Love Tractor (68 mins)
Set Two: Down, Chainsaw City, Good People > Dark Bar > Good People, Cease Fire > Never Seen > Impossible > Zambi Jam > Time Is Free > Space Is The Place Jam > Time Is Free > Fishwater > Mini Drums > Fishwater, North (95 mins)
Again: Blue Indian, Travelin’ Man > The Waker (14 min)
– ‘Morally Challenged’ LTP 12/31/19 Atlanta (53 shows) 3rd time played (Brute)
– ‘Time Is Free’ 12/30/19 Atlanta (54 shows)