Widespread Panic brought their 2017 to a close with their third sold-out show at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre. Last night marked the fifth time the Southern-jam act has rung in the New Year at the historic 4,600+ capacity venue. The six-piece act delivered three sets that featured lead singer John Bell seated and acoustic for the first one, and pair of bust outs later in the show with more nods to their late friend and mentor Col. Bruce Hampton.
Panic kicked off one of the biggest party nights of the year appropriately with “Let’s Get Down To Business,” a tune they recorded and released with Vic Chesnutt under the moniker Brute. Another pair of songs that had their origins in a side-project followed with “Who Do You Belong To?” and “Can’t Get High.” Panic reached back to their early days next as they served up a “Driving Song,” that saw them sandwich “Jamais Vu (The World Has Changed)” from their 2015 release Street Dogs, in the middle of it. The first bust out of the next came next with “Time Waits,” playing the tune for the first time since July of 2014 at the High Sierra Music Festival. The band brought their first frame of the night to a close with “Wondering.”
Panic got their middle set of the night started with a lengthy, jammed-out run beginning with “Disco” that segued straight into “Tie Your Shoes,” another tune that stretches all the back to their nascent days. “Sleepy Monkey” was found its way back into the rotation after being on the shelf for a stretch of 35 shows, as it transitioned into fan-favorite “Chilly Water.” “Ribs & Whiskey” and “Pigeons” brought the 70+ minute set to end.
Shortly before midnight, the Athens-based act returned to the stage to finish off their New Year’s stand. After giving some love to the staff at the Fox, the capacity crowd and band counted down to the end of 2017 and start of 2018 followed by the traditional take on “Auld Lang Syne.” With the formalities out of the way, Widespread Panic honored their the late Col. Bruce Hampton for the second time during the run this time by playing one of his songs. Bell led the band through a version of Hampton’s “Basically Frightened,” from his 1987 release Arkansas, which had played only one other time with Col. Bruce at the very same venue back in February on 2011. Their debut take on “Yield Not To Temptation” from Bobby Bland’s 1966’s release It’s My Life, Baby! came next, with yet another cover following as they served up the Cream via Skip James Delta blues tune “I’m So Glad.” Both “Yield Not To Temptation” and “I’m So Glad” were Col. Bruce repertoire favorites and the latter was one of the last songs he sang before he died on the Fox stage on May 1.
Panic shifted back to their own catalog with Bell strapping on the mandolin for “Ain’t Life Grand.” A lengthy seamless run followed with “Surprise Valley” > “Greta” > “Drums” > “Surprise Valley.” The band paid their respects to another musician lost in 2017 by playing Tom Petty’s “Honey Bee,” which was debuted during their Las Vegas Halloween run. WSP finished off their seventh set at the Fox with a pair of covers, offering up takes on JJ Cale’s “Travelin’ Light” and Neil Young’s “Last Dance.” The jam scene stalwarts put a cap on their evening with a three-song encore kicking things off the way they started the night with another Vic Chesnutt-penned tune “Expiration Day,” and concluding with a pair of Panic-classics to close it out: “Postcard” and “Porch Song.”
Listen to the entire show here, watch fan-shot footage of “Basically Frightened” and check out the full setlist below:
Check out photos by Ian Rawn:
Setlist (via PanicStream)
Set I: Let’s Get Down To Business, Who Do You Belong To?, Can’t Get High, Driving Song > Jamais Vu > Driving Song, Time Waits, Wondering
Set II: Disco > Fishwater > Tie Your Shoes > Sleepy Monkey > Chilly Water, Ribs & Whiskey, Pigeons
Set III: Basically Frightened, Yield Not To Temptation, I’m So Glad, Ain’t Life Grand*, Surprise Valley > Greta > Drums > Surprise Valley, Honey Bee, Travelin’ Light, Last Dance
Encore: Expiration Day, Postcard, Porch Song
Notes: 1st set with JB seated & acoustic, * JB on tiny guitar ;), ‘Time Waits’ LTP 7/06/14 High Sierra Festival (207 shows), ‘Sleepy Monkey’ LTP 10/29/16 Broomfield (35 shows), ‘Basically Frightened’ LTP 2/14/11 (w/ Col Bruce) Atlanta (419 shows), ‘Yield Not To Temptation’ first time played (Bobby Bland)