Review & Photos | Widespread Panic | Atlanta

Words & Images by: Ian Rawn

Widespread Panic :: 12.31.13 :: Philips Arena :: Atlanta, GA

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For Widespread Panic, New Year’s in Georgia was once a regular occurrence. A staple that local fans could count on each year for some “Home Cooking." However, starting in 2010, we have seen the New Year’s “run” move to two other states: Colorado (Denver) and North Carolina (Charlotte). To the delight of many, the end of 2013/beginning of 2014 would see the band return to their old stomping grounds at Philips Arena in Atlanta.

In true Panic tradition, the New Year’s performance contained an all-acoustic set. Most notably the first 3 songs, which were a shout out to one of the band’s bigger influences - Neil Young including the always sought after, “Don’t Be Denied.” The others would be the first time played treats, “Journey From The Past” and “Time Fades Away.” Other highlights from the set were Van Morrison’s “And it Stoned Me” and Randall Bramblett’s (sax) guest sit-in on “Pickin' Up The Pieces”.

The band would manage to get in another set of music just before the monumental midnight countdown. Panic was up and running during Set Two with some classic tunes, specifically “Holden Oversoul,” “Who Do You Belong To?,” “You Got Yours," and “Papa's Home” before Randall and his all-star group of horn players known as the The Megablasters would take the stage. This addition most certainly spiced up the set especially on “Old Neighborhood.” Fans were also treated to another cover song that first appeared on Halloween, JJ Cale’s “Devil in Disguise.”

Not long after the set concluded, Widespread Panic crew member, Steve Lopez, took the stage for the ritual countdown. As he counted down from 5 to 4 to 3 to 2 to 1, the arena erupted with confetti and lights illuminating the overjoyed crowd. Lighting designer Paul Hoffman used the occasion to debut a new toy, a giant disco ball, that certainly added to the moment. Light was spinning, bouncing and reflecting its way into every corner of the venue as fans were cheering, welcoming the band into yet another year.

The energy came to a boil when the band kicked off a massive 90-minute third set with the debut of Talking Heads's “Burning Down the House.” For those not as familiar with Widespread Panic, "Burning Down The House" has special meaning for the band and fans. The original version is an often-played PA song and one that many had hoped the band would play themselves at some point. It had finally happened and the energy in the room was a sight to behold. Widespread Panic continued the set with "Come On," aka "Let The Good Times Roll" as well as JoJo Hermann's "Bust It Big." Shorty after the power combination of originals, a "Chilly Water" > "Surprise Valley," "Pilgrims" > "Surprise Valley" sequence kept the up the momentum. The show concluded with more help from the horn section and another recreated moment from Halloween featuring War’s “Spill the Wine” as well as the fist-pumping original “Love Tractor.”

As they always do, the band resurfaced for a solid encore, this one containing “Stop Breakin' Down Blues” and the often played “Ain’t Life Grand.” The crowd lingered in the venue, dancing to the PA music, kissing and hugging, some even making snow angels on the floor of the confetti-soaked arena. Looking forward to more, more, more in 2014.

JamBase | Burning Down The Philips
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[Published on: 1/2/14]

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