Well one day into summer and Widespread Panic, have brought their brand of jamrock back to Red Rocks Amphitheater for the 6th year in a row. Having only been to the rocks once, I was filled with bursting anticipation for the start of this amazing weekend. Some dark clouds and a bit of rain came down a little before showtime and the parking lots were not real crowded
due to everyone getting inside to see the North Mississippi AllStars opening the show. We wandered around looking for all the familiar sites of people selling everything from T-shirts to Veggie Burritos. Once we got into the line we got up there pretty fast to see a sea of people all ready to get down once Panic take's the stage. Then around or so the noise turned to a roar and our first glimpse of the band materialized as they took the stage.
With the opening notes of "Little Kin," John Bell (Lead Vocals, and
guitar), Michael Houser (Vocals and Lead Guitar), JoJo Herman (Keys and Vocals), Dave Schools (Bass and Vocals), Todd Nance (Drums), and Domingo "Sunny" Ortiz (Percussions) were all smiles and so was the crowd. Then J.B. switched his guitar in for a mandolin and we all started singing "Ain't Life Grand." Well isn't it? The rest of this set was pretty cool since they played their album Ain't Life Grand as the whole first set. After set break they came back out and played the song "Action Man" for the first time with the new addition of words. Then the bass kicked in hard for "Thought Sausage" and everyone was groovin. Halfway through the set they boys paid homage to the late great John Lee Hooker who died the day before and played his "Boogie Chillin." Along for this ride was Cody Dickinson on electric washboard and Luther Dicknson on guitar and vocals, from NMAS. The set ended with "All Time Low" and just so we didn't leave anything behind, the encore began and it was non other than Traffic's "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys". What a first night!
Day 2 of Panic on the Rocks. Show started around 8:10 again and they
opened with "Radio Child" which is a great song to open. Everyone stared moving right away. A couple songs in and they broke into J.J.Cales "Ride Me High" and everyone was up and the place just exploded. The first set ended with the title song from their new album Don't Tell The Band.
The second set opened with a huge Crowd pleaser "Disco." Anytime you get to hear JoJo get funky is a good time. A few songs in and it was "Porch Song" which had all 9000 people singing into the night "Havin' a Good Time!" A huge "Diner" followed which went into "Greta" with a new intro and it was just great. Time for a standard next at a Panic show, "Drums." Now if you have never seen them before the drummers in this band are out of this world. This is not a break time. Even worse it makes you groove harder and move your body in every which way it can go. Sonny was very hot and took
over the stage for awhile before Todd came back on. Then onto the Curtis Mayfield classic "Pusherman." The set ended with the crowd pleaser and band favorite "No sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature". They came out for a double encore with "Me and the Devil Blues" and "Flat
Foot Flewzy". Another fantastic evening with the boys from Georgia!
We have come to Sunday and this show was a bit early starting at around 4 in the afternoon so no amazing light show tonight. The show opened with "Pleas" and J.B. was belting out the lyrics, "They say turn your bright light on and there you'll find the Truth". If it was night and the light were on the truth we would have known is that
if you never saw Widespread Panic before get out and go see them. About five songs later they broke out a great cover of Cat Stevens' "Trouble" beautifully sung by John Bell. For those people who say he has a southern raspy voice, this man sings with more heart than most people I ever saw. Then came an old Panic song "Driving Song" which sandwiched "Can't Find My Way Home" and finished it off with a J.J.Cale cover "Travelin Light." Clapton plays this on his new album too.
Second set started with a bang. They came out with "Lets Get Down To Business," which is what Panic did all weekend. Many more great songs after that and after the drums segment came a great "This Part Of Town." Then came one of my favorite parts of the weekend when the band played the Talking Heads song "Swamp." At this point Red Rocks was tired but we all danced and sang with J.B. in the lead and just threw down all over this song. Then "Climb to Safety" closed the set. Since this was going to be the end of the show they knew it had to be big to close down a three night stand in this beautiful venue in their home away from home in Colorado. So they came out and played "Papa's Home" with "Surprise Valley" in between which was an anthem, if you will, for us out here in the mountains. It starts off with "Oh, kiss the mountain air we breathe/goodbye its time to fly" and that's what panic can make you do... Fly.
And then to close it all, and to my delight (and many other's by all the singing you heard through the air) they closed with another Talking Heads tune, "City Of Dreams." We all walked out singing, "We live in a city of dreams." With a weekend like this, and with such a talented and wonderful band, we all lived in a city of dreams here at Red Rocks!
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