Todd Nance was behind the kit for the band’s official debut as Widespread Panic on February 6, 1986 at The Mad Hatter Ballroom in Athens. The drummer’s driving and intense beats were at the heart of the band’s music and his playing helped Panic develop a local and then regional and then national following as they grew to become one of top drawing acts in America. Nance stepped away from the sextet before their Fall Tour 2014 to attend to personal matters and then left the band for good after rejoining WSP for their 2016 Panic En La Playa destination event.
New Year’s Eve is always a special occasion for Widespread Panic and this week’s Full Show Friday features three WSP NYE shows from Nance’s time in the band featured on the recently launched JamBase Live Video Archive (JMLVA). The JMLVA contains hundreds of Widespread Panic videos for your viewing pleasure including many full shows and sets dating back to 1988. Most have been tagged by song, so you can start the video right where you want it.
Widespread Panic ended one of the busiest years of touring in their history with a two-night New Year’s Run at the Georgia Theatre in their hometown of Athens on December 30 and 31, 1993. The band made their Georgia Theatre debut on October 30, 1989 and performed at the venue 41 more times. New Year’s Eve was celebrated by Panic at the Georgia Theatre in 1991 and 1992 as well as 1993. Fittingly, “Let’s Get The Show On The Road” was the opener and the first set was also highlighted by a stellar pairing of “Mercy” and “Who Do You Belong To?” that was connected with the rare instrumental “L.a.”
The sextet hadn’t yet expanded their NYE festivities to three sets in 1993, but Panic did treat fans to a lengthy second set and two distinct encores. Jam vehicles “Fishwater” and “Papa’s Home” got the frame underway as the band mixed such beloved originals as “Hatfield,” “Holden Oversoul” and “Junior” with covers of JJ Cale’s “Travelin’ Light” and The Meters’ “Just Kissed My Baby.” Panic kicked off the first encore with a short jam before pairing “Postcard” and “Stop-Go.” While “Bowlegged Woman” ended the first encore, the band returned to close out the night with an emotional cover of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home.”
The band’s home state of Georgia hosted every Widespread Panic New Year’s Eve show through 2007. Panic moved the festivities to Denver’s Pepsi Center on December 31, 2008 after eight straight NYE concerts at the Philips Arena in Atlanta. Yonder Mountain String Band opened in Denver and Yonder’s Dave Johnston and Jeff Austin sat-in on banjo and mandolin respectively for a run of “Ain’t Life Grand,” “Who Do You Belong To?” and “Fixin’ To Die” during the second Panic set of the evening. Widespread Panic aired the official video above for an installment of their Never Miss A Sunday Show archival video series. The first set featured a near-complete performance of the original Space Wrangler studio album that omitted just “Gomero Blanco.” Other highlights were the band’s lone cover of Herman Hupfield’s “As Time Goes By” and the pairing of “Disco” into “Love Tractor” that ended the show.
Charlotte, North Carolina | December 31, 2011 (Set One)
Once again, Widespread Panic held their New Year’s Eve show at Atlanta’s Philips Arena in 2009 and then brought 2010 to a close at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Panic went on to move the festivities to Charlotte in 2011, where they played three sets at the Time Warner Cable Arena. The band took “Chilly Water” deep to begin the marathon concert and ended the first frame with a number of special guests. A cover of War’s “Slippin’ Into Darkness” featured crew member Steve Lopez on percussion and the evening’s initial appearance from The MegaBlasters horn section. The MegaBlasters stuck around for the seequence of “Bust It Big” and “Chest Fever” that closed the set with John Keane also aboard for the latter.
Charlotte, North Carolina | December 31, 2011 (Set Two)
The sextet went the old school route to open their all-acoustic second set at Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena on December 31, 2011 as Panic went without guests for a run of classics “Henry Parsons Died,” “Quarter Tank Of Gasoline” and “Coach.” Next, saxophonist Randall Bramblett emerged for “L.a.” John Keane then helped out on guitar for “Degenerate” before playing pedal steel on “C. Brown,” “Blue Indian” and “Ain’t Life Grand” to end the frame.
Charlotte, North Carolina | December 31, 2011 (Set Three)
The MegaBlasters horn section joined Widespread Panic to kick off the third and final set in Charlotte on New Year’s Eve 2011 with the original “Tall Boy” and covers of Al Green’s “Love And Happiness” and Willie Dixon’s “Tail Dragger.” Panic had last performed “Love And Happiness” 312 shows prior on Halloween 2007 and have yet to cover the song again since December 31, 2011. Next, the sextet went without guests for a run of oldies that included “Space Wrangler,” “Papa’s Home,” “Machine,” “Barstools & Dreamers” and “Pigeons” before the horns came back for “Up All Night,” “On Your Way Down” and “You Should Be Glad.” Keane also contributed to “You Should Be Glad.” Finally, Widespread Panic said farewell with a wild encore of “Disco” into “Surprise Valley” into “Pilgrims” into “Surprise Valley” into “Climb To Safety.”