Widespread Panic at Red Rocks
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
The Sunday matinee show at Red Rocks is always trailed by a reputation rivaling other longtime Panic traditions like New Years Eve and Halloween shows. Given the early start time (4:30 pm) and bookending nature of the show always placed at the end of a multi-night run, it has managed time and time again to properly send fans off home satisfied.
This past Sunday in Morrison was a scorcher, with temperatures reaching nearly 100 degrees as show time approached. Of course, this didn't prevent hordes of fans from arriving to the venue early to stake out their ideal vantage points. At just around 4:40 pm, the blazing rocker “Flicker” from Free Somehow opened the show, perhaps as a direct call to action (or subtle reminder) for fans to live in the moment and enjoy the show at hand.
Some may say the magic’s gone away.
Look closer, baby, you might see the flicker.
A personal favorite, the slow-cooking “C Brown” came next, inviting a wave of approving applause from the sold out crowd before “Better Off,” giving John “JoJo” Hermann’s bluesy pecking a first of many appearances in the spotlight during the show. “All Time Low” inspired a billowing wave of acclamation, getting the singalong treatment before the onslaught of riches that would close the set.
Cover suites were aplenty and thematic show anchors throughout the Red Rocks run. On Friday night, there was the three-song Talking Heads encore, Saturday it was a four-song nod to Vic Chesnutt in set one and for Sunday, fans were treated with 10+ minutes of funk fusion on a highly-percussive cover of The Meters “Ain’t No Use” before three consecutive songs by The Band to close out the first set "Ophelia" > "The Shape I’m In" and the first appearance of “Chest Fever” in 72 shows. After this run of huge covers, the energy and eager expectation of a monster set two to follow was palpable.
The remainder of the show was big on sunny day crowd-pleasers as Panic hit on several of the staples-you-know-by-heart variety like “Can’t Get High,” “Tall Boy" > "Bust It Big" > "Big Wooly Mammoth” and “Surprise Valley” among those making appearances. Amongst the constants, there was an excellent reading of Bloodkin’s brooding and bleary “Quarter Tank of Gasoline” with the mood-tweaking verse:
I got a quarter tank of gasoline
I got a stomach full of regrets
I got some strange girl passed out in the passenger seat
She wouldn't give me nothing on a bed
Now she's starting to wake up
I was wondering if she was still alive
And the way she's smiling
She looks just like an orphan
And I think she wants to drive, yes, yes
I think she wants to drive
Spirits were once again lifted by the brisk and familiar melodies of The Beatles' “The Ballad of John and Yoko,” an effort driven largely by JoJo’s work playing rollicking 50s style rock keys. To close the final set, it was a robust trio of tunes “Pickin’ Up The Pieces,” the aforementioned “Surprise Valley” and an (arguably) show-highlighting “You Should Be Glad.” The set two closer was led mostly by some massively impressive guitar fireworks by Jimmy Herring over latin-tinged drums, bass and percussion. If there’s a must listen from the show, this one gets my vote.
Finally, to close out the three-night run there was the slow, smoldering toast to the audience on “May Your Glass Be Filled” before “Climb To Safety,” capping off yet another fantastic Sunday at the historic and tuneful surroundings of Red Rocks Amphitheatre.