Widespread Panic :: 10.30.06 (Halloween Show)
MGM Grand Theater, Las Vegas

John Bell - WSP by Vann
Sometimes you go to Vegas for one reason but wind up having a completely different experience, like going for a business trip and leaving married to a hooker. Or in this case, you go for the great lineup at Vegoose, and you leave with a renewed love affair with an old, almost-forgotten flame. The show Widespread Panic managed to pull off for Halloween was so far beyond expectations it reminded many of days believed to be gone forever.

Jimmy Herring's fluid expertise on lead was able to push Panic into areas that have not even been considered in recent years. While there is great speculation as to what exactly happened with McConnell, this is a business - and the business is music. Regardless of why, what we do know is that Jimmy Herring is making this a more dynamic and exciting band. You want proof? Look no further than the 18-minute "Diner" that Jimmy pushed and pushed on, forcing bassist Dave Schools to follow him through the tunnel and opening up room for John Bell to rap about not only himself, but also parts of "Pigeons," "Hatfield," and costumes in the crowd.

Domingo "Sunny" Ortiz - WSP by Vann
This was what Panic fans want - no need - from a Halloween show. Last year in Vegas was a let-down, perhaps the first Halloween show ever to be coined as such. But this year Widespread Panic clearly had something to prove; they wanted to make damn sure that everyone knew that the band is fucking back.

Hanging out at Vegoose on Sunday night I ran into Schools backstage. We began talking about Jimmy and how much the band is enjoying his contributions, and then Schools brought up Halloween. He said, "Last year we did some things we wanted to do. This year is for the real music fan. I know you are a real music fan..." He stressed the whole real music fan thing twice, and I had no idea what he was talking about, I just shrugged it off. What he meant was the insane list of covers they would bust out, many of which had never been played.

Panic dusted off songs by some of the biggest names in music... a show for real music fans. Alongside smoking version of their own classic tracks, Panic tore through The Beatles' "I Want You," The Grateful Dead's "Morning Dew," The Doors' "People Are Strange," War's "Slipping Into Darkness," R.E.M.'s "You Can't Get Here From There," "That Old Black Magic" by Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer, and ten dirty minutes of Golden Earring's "Radar Love." And for those who need a nice tear-jerk to take the show "over the top," JB led the band through the first version of Michael Houser's "Airplane" since 7/2/02 - Houser's last show.

WSP by Vann
Halloween with Panic had it all. It was a reminder of what drew tens of thousands of fans to follow them around the world. It shattered what we thought Panic was capable of in the post-Mikey era. More than anything, that feeling was back... that feeling where anything can happen. There were surprises and wild cards. Chances were taken, and new doors were opened. Widespread Panic rejuvenated the souls of many fans who had given up.

After the show had ended and wild-eyed fans were pouring into the MGM Casino (which was attached to the MGM Grand Theater), something else happened that I hadn't witnessed in years. As the herd of people slowly moved their way through the stairs and elevators, the halls and walkways, sudden eruptions of cheering and adoration for Panic would spread, eventually filling up the entire area until everyone was yelling and hooting. "Normal" folks were scared. They backed up and began trying to figure out what all the commotion was about. Casino workers were on guard, wondering what the hell was going on. The message was clear... Hide the children because Widespread Panic is back in town.

10/30/06 MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV

Set I
Contentment Blues, People Are Strange, You Should Be Glad > John's Other Jam > Pilgrims > Greta > Sharon > Time Zones, Stop-Go > Imitation Leather Shoes > Chainsaw City

Set II
Cant Get There From Here, Slippin' Into Darkness > When The Clowns Come Home, Diner > Proving Ground > Drums > Airplane > Morning Dew > Love Tractor

That Old Black Magic, Radar Love, I Want You (She's So Heavy)

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