Widespread Panic returned to the stage for the first time since March 2, 2020 last night in Denver. The sextet went the old school route in loading the setlist with classic material for their Tunes For Tots benefit concert at The Mission Ballroom.
Proceeds from Thursday’s show will help support music education on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation. VIP packages included access to a soundcheck party in which the band played original “Pickin’ Up The Pieces” and their beloved cover of JJ Cale’s “Travelin’ Light.”
Widespread Panic came out in front of a frenzied crowd to kick off their first set with “Wondering.” The band then paired a take on Tom Waits’ “Goin’ Out West” with their own “Hatfield.” An expansive version of instrumental “Party At Your Mama’s House” came next before frontman John Bell belted out the bluesy “Ribs & Whiskey.” Bell also fronted the group on their sixth ever cover of Neil Young’s “Heart Of Gold” and first since August 24, 2019. The set rolled on with “This Part Of Town” and “Visiting Day,” two originals premiered by Panic around the turn of the Millenium. Widespread capped the frame by covering James Taylor’s “Knocking ‘Round The Zoo.”
Last night’s second set began with the two newest originals the band would play throughout a night filled with old school gems. Up first was Earth To America gem “From The Cradle,” which dates back to 2006 and then the group played the 18-year-old standout “Don’t Wanna Lose You.” A 12-minute “Bear’s Gone Fishin’” followed along with “Sleepy Monkey,” one of the first Widespread Panic originals. Bell, Jimmy Herring, Duane Trucks, JoJo Hermann, Domingo “Sunny” Ortiz and Dave Schools then delivered a rousing “You Got Yours.”
One of the biggest surprises of the night came next as Panic covered The Dillards’ “There Is A Time.” The sextet first played the song as part of their Andy Griffith Show-themed Halloween concert in 2015. Thursday marked the group’s fifth “There Is A Time” since its debut. Herring then starred in a quick run through instrumental “B Of D.” From there, Widespread Panic jammed “Surprise Valley” into the evening’s “Drums” segment. Duane and Sunny’s brief duet gave way to “Hope In A Hopeless World” before Panic finished “Surprise Valley.” Rocker “Action Man” closed out last night’s second set.
Widespread Panic picked two covers for Thursday’s encore. But first John Bell addressed the crowd:
A very simple thing … get together watch a concert. A rather expensive ticket price but y’all give yourselves a hand for putting instruments in the hands of many young people. That’s a good thing that they can focus on during these times … any times. Thank you very much. You’ve done a lot just by dancing and spending some money. Thank you.
The six-piece tackled Neil Young’s “Vampire Blues” and then said farewell with a take on Tom Petty’s “Honey Bee.” Widespread Panic now heads to Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado to begin a three-night stand tonight. Livestreams are available via nugs.tv.
Watch fan-shot video of the openers from both sets below:
Setlist (via PanicStream)
Set One: Wondering, Goin’ Out West > Hatfield, Party At Your Mama’s House, Ribs & Whiskey, Heart of Gold, This Part Of Town, Visiting Day, Knocking ‘Round The Zoo (72 mins)
Set Two: From the Cradle, Don’t Wanna Lose You, Bear’s Gone Fishin’, Sleepy Monkey, You Got Yours, There Is A Time, B of D, Surprise Valley > Drums > Hope In A Hopeless World > Surprise Valley, Action Man (75 mins)
Encore: Vampire Blues, Honey Bee (12 mins)
Soundcheck: Pickin’ Up The Pieces, Travelin’ Light