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A Trip Back To Red Rocks with Widespread Panic
As most all Widespread Panic fans are aware, the group has hit its 25th Anniversary this year and what better place to check in on the band and old friends alike, then the stunning Red Rocks Amphitheatre, in Morrison, CO. Here Panic set up shop once more for another three sold out days at this magical and beautiful place before the much discussed upcoming hiatus.
Photos by Fred Rice
The weather on Friday was typical of the 300 days of sun we get here in Colorado and a perfect setting to get things started. Widespread Panic came bustin’ out of the gates with a fitting “Postcard” inspired by the surroundings. Other first set highlights included a nice “Ribs & Whiskey” > “Party at Your Mamas’s House” > “Space Wrangler” segue, as well as a crowd-pleasing version of Jerry Joseph’s fan favorite, “Climb to Safety,” to close the set.
With the band and the fans sharing that energy that has kept me coming back for 18 years, the second set opened with a heart stopping “Pigeons” > “Fishwater.” Panic then slowed it a bit down with the elusive instrumental “LA” leading into “Jack.” Next came the rare “Do What You Like,” which had not been played in three years. Friday night later ended, with an energy-evolving three song encore: “This Part of Town,” “1 X 1” and “Radio Child.” This trifecta left the crowd on a high note looking forward to round two of the three.
06/24/11 Red Rocks, Morrison, CO
1: Postcard, Glory, Send Your Mind > Sleeping Man, Dirty Side Down, Ribs And Whiskey > Party At Your Mama’s House > Space Wrangler > Blackout Blues > Climb To Safety
2: Pigeons > Fishwater, L.a. > Jam > Jack, Visiting Day, Do What You Like > Jam > Pleas > Imitation Leather Shoes > Papa’s Home > Drums > Papa’s Home > Junior
E: This Part Of Town, 1 × 1, Radio Child
Saturday was another gorgeous day in the front range of the Rocky Mountains. I think the band had really sharpened up after the first night and was ready to give this sold out and towering crowd another night to remember. The group kicked things off with an old Firehose cover, “Sometimes,” which has been a favorite of mine for 10 years. It wouldn’t be a true Panic run without another nightly dose of Jerry Joseph as the band played “North” into some old school Panic originals “Rock” > “Hatfield.” The set continued in great stride and closed with “Blue Indian” followed by “Porch Song,” (if just to remind us that the “Man in the moon is a musician,” and he was smiling down on us).
Following setbreak, the group broke out with a nice “Henry Parsons,” “ All Time Low” rollercoaster to get things started. We were then treated to the Todd Nance/John Bell vocal pairing on “Down.” Still, the real highlights of the second set had to be the “Chilly Water” > “Arleen.” The intensity could really be seen throughout the band, and especially in the faces of Dave Schools and Jimmy Herring. The jam out of “Arleen” led us into a nice “drums” that slowed it down enough to give John Bell the opportunity to sing an inspirational and appropriate “Vacation.” A bit later we were treated to yet another three song encore, as “Up All Night,” “Bust it Big” and a rip roaring “Mr. Soul” to send us out into another beautiful Colorado evening. Saturday was definitely a strong show, but the real treat remained in what was still yet to come.
06/25/11 Red Rocks, Morrison, CO
1: Sometimes, North > Rock > Hatfield, True To My Nature, Time Zones, The Take Out > Rebirtha > Blue Indian, Porch Song
2: Henry Parsons Died, All Time Low, Down, Jaded Tourist, Tortured Artist > Chilly Water > Jam > Arleen > Drums > Vacation > Impossible > Action Man
E: Up All Night, Bust It Big > Mr. Soul
From the start of this 90+ degree day on the rocks, it was apparent that the band was amped up and ready to give us a special show. The first set was comprised of all originals (unique in its own right). The smiles could not be wiped off the faces of JB and Jimmy as they started things off with “Wonderin” > “Surprise Valley” > “C. Brown.” The first set closed with us “bouncing in our seats” during a “Love Tractor” > “Conrad” closer. Still, it was the second set which was going to be the real standout of the weekend.
The whole band seemed to have a “we’re up to something” look on their faces when they walked out on stage for set two, however, it wouldn’t be until the third song or so that I realized what they were up to. As the set started with the Guess Who’s “No Sugar Tonight” / “New Mother Nature,” the energy remained quite high. Next came “Bowlegged Woman” (a Hot Tuna staple written by Calvin Carter and Bobby Rush) and then Warren Zevon’s rarely-played “Laywers Guns and Money”. It was now apparent that the band was giving us a set of all covers for what was basically a tribute to THEIR inspirations over the years. The set continued with “Can’t Find My Way Home,” “Mama Told Me Not to Come,” Knockin’ Around the Zoo”, and Neil Young’s “Walk On” leading into Professor Longhair’s “Red Beans.” The band maintained the New Orleans theme with Dr John’s “Guilded Splinters” only to switch it up with Black Sabbath’s, “Fairies Wear Boots,” which led into David Bromberg’s “Sharon” and then the ten year recurrence of “Wild Thing” to close the set.
During the encore break you could see that the fans were excited and a bit in shock, as one friend wished me a “Happy Halloween,” as it has always been a tradition to debut many of these songs on October 31. From here, the band kept the theme going during the encore to finish up what was truly another special weekend at Red Rocks. Dave Schools came out and joked, “You no likey the ending?” and then the entire band went back into a “Wild Thing Reprise.” Next came the second performance of Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing” this year, which moved into the fan favorite and appropriate version of Tom Waits’ “Goin’ Out West.” Widespread Panic then finished the weekend with Bloodkin’s “End of the Show,” which was one of the most beautiful versions of the song I have ever heard.
As friends gave each other one final hug, and gave the band one last applause, we all set off into the night in hopes that it wouldn’t be too long until we were back seeing each other at this wonderful place.
06/26/11 Red Rocks, Morrison, CO
1: Wondering > Surprise Valley > C. Brown, Little Kin, Pickin’ Up The Pieces, Stop-Go > Big Wooly Mammoth, Worry, Love Tractor, Conrad
2: No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature, Bowlegged Woman, Lawyers, Guns, And Money, Can’t Find My Way Home, Mama Told Me Not To Come, Knocking ‘Round The Zoo, Walk On > Jam > I Walk On Guilded Splinters > Red Beans, Fairies Wear Boots > Sharon > Wild Thing
E: Wild Thing Reprise, Sultans of Swing > Goin’ Out West, End Of The Show