WIDESPREAD PANIC | NORTHWEST RUN

Widespread Panic | 09.24.03 - 09.28.03 | Northwest

Widespread Panic made a triumphant return to the Northwest with a four-night tour starting at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman, Montana and ending in Missoula, MT at the Adams Center. With the fall tour being their last for at least a year, this promised to be a good run. Overall Panic did not disappoint; their first tour of the Northwest since fall 2001 was a triumphant return of that big, joyous sound we all crave.


By Eric Leaf
Bozeman kicked off the tour with a 43 minute first set, which featured some classic Panic staples ("Porch Song" and "Proving Ground") along with the Jerry Joseph song "North," leaving many fans scratching their heads. But the band battled back during the second set. A strong "Monstrosity" came out hard opening things up, and featured a long jam that wound its way into the War tune "Slipping Into Darkness." As "Slipping" was bleeding into "Barstools and Dreamers," JB served up the crowd pleasing "Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin" rap. John Bell's vocals really started to shine through at this point. The amount of soul JB has been bending into his notes is absolutely amazing, and marks a huge transition in his singing style from two years ago. The encore in Bozeman seemed to speak directly to those of us hitting the road in search of what was to come. "Greta" > "Goin' Out West" reminded us to keep the devil on a leash in order to get ready for some serious driving to get to Eugene in two days.

The drive to Eugene and the Cuthbert Ampitheater was long but rewarding. The "Disco" > "Wondering" > "Climb To Safety" opener left me wondering just how sick this show was going to get. I had only to wait until the second set for my questions to be answered. An acoustic "Fishing" brought things around, followed later by "Chilly Water" segued into a new JoJo tune, "Busted Big." "Drums" were then followed by the Pink Floyd tune "Interstellar Overdrive." Things were shifting into high gear for the end of "Chilly Water" and the band took no prisoners in this sandwich. The first tune of the encore was the Talking Heads' "Heaven," a solid affirmation for those of us in the crowd not intoxicated that "nothing at all could be so exciting, yeah, this much fun..."


By Eric Leaf
The White River Amphitheater show in Auburn received mixed reviews--despite a plethora of free tickets the place was empty and the scene was one of a constant state of harassment. Despite the lack of ticket sales and attendants, it still appeared the venue had a full contingent of workers in place to stand around harassing concertgoers. In spite of this I still managed to get a Rock Star tall boy into the concert, which I happily consumed during the "Tall Boy" opener. George McConnell's singing on "Doretha" was a delight as usual, and JB's rap during "Ain't No Use" brought goose bumps up on my neck and arms. The second set featured a nice "Drums" during "Fishwater," and an especially long and dark jam in the middle of the "Driving Song" >" Thin Air" > "Driving."

The stage was set for Widespread Panic's triumphant return to Missoula for the first time since the Fall of 2000. The opening three songs left no doubt that the doors were really going to get blown off the Adams Center. Vic Chesnutt's "Let's Get Down To Business" kicked off the first set, and would not be the only Vic tune played that night. Panic's new southern anthem "Papa Johnny Road" moved things along nicely, setting the springboard for The Guess Who's "No Sugar Tonight/ New Mother Nature." The first set didn't slow down there as a bluegrass rendition of "Ribs and Whiskey" set the mood for a fast "Mercy," featuring an "Ain't Life Grand" jam towards the end. Panic was all over this show, putting jams in places jams had never gone before, and playing jams that had never been even considered. After all this mayhem, J.J. Cale's "Travelin' Light" brought the house down to close out the first set.


By The Kayceman
The second set opened with the same tenacity that kicked off the fist set. "Conrad" left everyone out of breath and straining for a "little room to fly." The second Vic tune of the night, "Sleeping Man" brought out a stellar performance from the big man himself, Dave Schools. "Jack" and "Junior" were nice, but the second set's highlights had to come somewhere in the middle of the "Tie Your Shoes" >" Drums" > "Ride Me High" > "Tie Your Shoes" > "Papa's Home" > "Coconut" freak out. An absolutely insane ride, I felt no misfortune in my life as my feet barely touched the ground during that whole jam. The encore was one of those classic Panic encores that seem to tell a story with just the song titles themselves. "Old Joe," "Climb To Safety" seems to be a reminder to all of us to make sure and take life and love as it comes, sometimes fast and hard, sometimes slow, and occasionally not at all.

Panic shows are simply the best, not only for the tunes but also for the vibes that abound there. Panic fans on the whole live and love with all their might. This zest for life has but one soundtrack--the hard driving, backbone shattering, big joyous sounds of a Widespread Panic concert. Beg, borrow, or gamble the money to get to Panic's Fall dates, because this Northwest tour did not disappoint. It had its highs and lows, but then again that's life, and you simply can't have the good without the bad. One thing's for sure: when Panic comes through your town, get ready (just like Ophelia) to "hit the ground scared and running."

Phil Santala
JamBase | World Wide
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[Published on: 10/9/03]

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