Widespread Panic headlined a wild time in New Orleans this past weekend. Panic pulled into UNO's Lakefront Arena for a three night stand which will go down in Panic history as one of the biggest throw down run of shows ever. The first night the band started hot out of the gate reviving their version of Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf" after a two year absence from their song rotation. The first Panic set of the weekend continued strong with a kind "Driving Song" > "Thought Sausage" > "Driving Song" > "Diner" segment that showed JB's vocal prowess and the band's raw power. "Ain't Life Grand" signaled the end of the first set but only the beginning of the fun.

Friday's second set begin with a furious version of the Grateful Dead's "Cream Puff War." After a standard version of "Dyin' Man", the band launched into a version of "Mercy" that melted my soul. Even with a lyrical mishap by JB, this version ranks near the top in the weekend's overall highlights. What followed was pure "jamness," as "Pigeons" rocked itself into Traffic's "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" with Joe Rodriguez of Groove Collective doing a great job of blending with the band and his sax driven jams helped this version hit multiple peaks. To many folks' surprise, the band then pulled it's first new cover out for the weekend, "Stop Breaking Down". The Halloween run of shows is known for new covers, but usually these treats are saved for the last night. For the encore, the band played crowd favorites, "Arlene" and "Climb to Safety", and we all left that night satisfied.....already....but the fun wasn't done. Many folks headed out that night for a late night show by The Meters, which I heard was fantastic, but I opted to gather with friends the first night at a party and catch up on good times past and good times to come.

Saturday first set started slow, but by mid-set, the band rejuvenated the crowd with a rollicking version of "Junco Partner" followed by some extra verses special for the New Orleans crowd. When the band entered "Henry Parsons Died", I expected the set to close, but then came the next big surprise of the weekend - Warren Zevon's "Lawyers, Guns, and Money". After a eight year absence, this bustout left the the crowd buzzing the whole intermission and I only wondered what else could be next.

The second set found Karl Denson and Andy Cleaves of Karl Denson's Tiny Universe out on stage to join the band. They joined for hot versions of "Red Hot Mama" and "Sharon" before leaving to get ready for their late night gig at Tipitina's Uptown. The set ended with a J.J. Cale tribute with the band performing their version of "Ride Me High", which didn't hit all the normal peaks it usually does. The band then recovered with a great version of their original tune, "Conrad the Caterpillar", which then gave way back for Cale's "Travelin' Light" to close. Dave Schools brought out his stand up bass for the encore, which usually signifies "Nobody's Loss", but on this night, we got another treat. The band launched into the first live version of "Trouble", a song that also highlight's JB's vocal abilities. The night ended with The Doors "Soul Kitchen" with the crowd singing along. Late night found most folks headed to Karl Denson, but my crew of friends went to Krewe of Kudze Halloween Ball to listen to The Kudzu Kings and I found myself dancing in the wee-hours of the night in the town of New Orleans ... what a shocker!

Some folks dressed up on all three days, but officially, the third night of the run was considered the band's Halloween celebration. For this special event, the band would dress up themselves a pirate theme (although JB was a mouse ... perhaps a castaway mouse) and the stage set was constructed to appear like a old wooden ship. The Halloween show was phenomenal from start to finish. The band opened with "Sympathy for the Devil", another song revived after more than a twelve year hiatus. The first set was strong beginning to end, with Peanut joining the band playing sax on "Me and the Devil" > "Fishwater" to end the set.

The final Panic set of the weekend was highlighted by the appearance of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The Dirty Dozen has sat in with the band on numerous occasions, but I believe this was the longest guest appearance time length wise as the stayed on stage for four songs: "Weight of the World", "Christmas Katie", "I Walk on Gilded Splinters", and "Superstition". The Dirty Dozen has developed a great friendship with Widespread Panic and it shows in the music and their jams when they are together - these bands were meant to play together. Out of the drums segment, the clock struck midnight, and the band launched into a fitting version of "Galleon". This song is a beautiful Panic instrumental and was perfect to celebrate with a friend I was with whose birthday is on 10/30. Happy Birthday Jessica! After "Galleon", the familiar guitar and drum beat of The Hollies' "Long Cool Woman" had the crowd rocking again. The second set ended with "Chilly Water", a song favorite and considered by many to be one of Panic's finest anthems. After "All Time Low", rumors became reality as the band played Paul McCartney and Wings' "Band on the Run" for the first time ever. This song starts slowly and although it sounded famliar, I was unable to identify it for over a minute, but by the time the chorus first came around, the crowd was singing along and there were smiles a-plenty. The weekend ended with "Red Beans", a goodbye salute to New Orleans.

The weekend wasn't over yet. That night found many folks headed to Karl Denson again at Tipitina's Uptown for another sunrise show. As the sun came up, it signified the end of another great weekend in New Orleans. I miss seeing my friends I see at shows and it's hard to say goodbye but I knew it would only be a short time before we would all be making plans to see each other again - same time, same place. I hope anyone doesn't miss out on this weekend of fun next year.

Widespread Panic heads out west with shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA later this week. The tour continues through December 1st before the band returns for their annual New Years Eve celebration December 30th and 31st at Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA.

James "Kimo" Ko
JamBase Widespread Panic Correspondent

Weekend Setlists:

10/27/00 Keifer Lakefront Arena, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA

1: Sweet Leaf !!> One Arm Steve > Makes Sense To Me, This Part Of Town > Driving Song > Thought Sausage > Driving Song > Diner, Ain't Life Grand

2: Cream Puff War, Dyin' Man, Mercy > Pigeons > Jam* > Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys* > Drums** > Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys***, Stop Breaking Down, West Virginia, The Waker, Love Tractor

E: Arleen > Climb To Safety

* with Joe Rodriguez (Groove Collective) on saxophone
** with Various Members (Groove Collective) on percussion
*** with Joe Rodriguez (Groove Collective) on saxophone, Unknown (Groove Collective) on keyboards
[Only 'Stop Breaking Down'; Groove Collective opened; 'Here Comes The Sun' tease after 'Drums' by Dave; Last 'Sweet Leaf' - 3/30/98, 279 shows]

10/28/00 Keifer Lakefront Arena, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA

1: Disco > Pleas > Blackout Blues > Junco Partner > Going To New Orleans, Surprise Valley > Hatfield > Henry Parsons Died, Lawyers, Guns, And Money

2: Red Hot Mama* > Sharon*, Big Woolly Mammoth > Give > Pilgrims > Drums** > Ride Me High > Conrad, Travelin' Light

E: Trouble, Soul Kitchen

with Andy Cleaves (Karl Denson's Tiny Universe) on trumpet, Karl Denson (Karl Denson's Tiny Universe) on saxophone **
with Charlie Pruett on percussion
[Only 'Going To New Orleans', Only 'Soul Kitchen', Only 'Trouble'; Karl Denson's Tiny Universe opened; 'Turn On Your Love Light' tease before 'Give'; Dave teases 'Third Stone From The Sun' and '5:15' before 'Ride Me High';
Last 'Lawyers, Guns, And Money' - 10/31/93, 798 shows]

10/29/00 Keifer Lakefront Arena, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA

1: Sympathy for the Devil > Imitation Leather Shoes, Blight > Sleeping Man, Little Lilly > North, Holden Oversoul > Me And The Devil Blues* > Fishwater*

2: Porch Song > Casa, Weight Of The World**, Christmas Katie** > I Walk On Guilded Splinters** > Superstition** > Drums*** > Galleon > Long Cool Woman > Chilly Water

E1: All Time Low > Band On The Run
E2: Red Beans

* with Cecil Daniels [a.k.a. Peanut] on saxophone
** with Dirty Dozen Brass Band
*** with Terrence Higgins (Dirty Dozen Brass Band) on drums, Charlie Pruett on percussion
[Only 'Band On The Run', Only 'Long Cool Woman'; Dirty Dozen Brass Band opened; 'The Other One' jam before 'Galleon';
Last 'Sympathy for the Devil' - 7/1/89, 1488 shows]

[Published on: 10/31/00]

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