In the spirit of the Allman Brothers, fellow Georgia peaches Widespread Panic graced the Upper West Side with a multi-night run of shows at The Beacon Theatre as a prelude to spring. Southern accents and charm were prevalent throughout the crowd, as many fans made the trek for the noteworthy occasion. Included in the shows was a Leap Day show on February 29, which brought together a “time” theme in the second set of the show.
The music was complimented by a stunning light rig, with vertical rows of lights in the center and left, and a circle of lights on the right. A beacon of rainbow light was often radiating just above Duane Trucks and Domingo Ortiz on their raised drum stands behind the rest of the band. The stage floor contained powerful rotating lights that often embellished the iconic Egyptian-themed ceiling.
Bust-outs were found throughout the run, including “Vicious” by Lou Reed, which hadn’t been played in over 1000 shows, dating back to the band’s Halloween run at Madison Square Garden in 2003, and the rare “E on a G,” which had only been played eleven times prior.
On Friday, the band did not let up in set one, and came out firing as they had the night before. The show started out strong with early Panic classics “Wondering,” “C. Brown” and “Can’t Get High.” Jimmy Herring got loose on “All Time Low,” which followed for the first big jam of the night. Fans were treated to the rare “Dark Day Program,“ last played on in July 2011. To close out this high energy first set, Dave Schools asked the crowd if they wanted to dance and the band unleashed a monster cover of Robert Johnson’s “Stop Breakin’ Down Blues.”
A heavy “Sleeping Man” opened the second set, followed by a pair of covers from The Band, “Ophelia” and “The Shape I’m In.” And while it felt like they were about to dive into Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” just out of “Driving Song,” the band treated the crowd to the twelfth ever version of the instrumental “E on a G.” Herring kept his foot on the gas during the set closer of “Chilly Water,” while the crowd sprayed their water and added a visceral soaking sensation. The night wrapped up with a delicious double encore of “Blue Indian” and “Climb to Safety.”
But how would the band commemorate the quadrennial Leap Day that followed? There are few songs with ‘Leap’ in the title, so a reflection on time was in order, and found throughout much of the second set, in both obvious and subtle ways. Set 1 started with classic Panic numbers “Space Wrangler” and “Walkin’ (For Your Love),” and the newly minted jam-vehicle “Up All Night” which never fails to deliver. A rare “Tortured Artist” followed, along with the fresh “Sundown Betty.” The first set closed with a trio of high energy numbers in “Machine,” “Barstools and Dreamers” and the apropos for Saturday NRBQ cover “Flat Foot Flewzy.”
The second set played off of a ‘time’ theme with references throughout, starting with “Blackout Blues” (in the middle of the night), a tease of the theme to Norman Lear’s All in the Family “Those were the days” (which is set in nearby Queens), “Airplane” (must have been a year ago), “Holden Oversoul” (one last time), “Henry Parsons Died” (6 o’clock on Saturday). A trio of ‘time’ songs followed – “Time Zones,” Los Lobos’ “Somewhere in Time” and The Dillards “There is a Time” – but the time references didn’t end there. J.J. Cale’s “Ride me High” (this mornin’) and the first half of the encore “This Part of Town” (the other day) tossed in some subtle but notable references to time on this extra day of 2020.
Also notable, there were numerous references to Southern USA, including “Up All Night” (Savannah), “Henry Parsons Died” (Georgia), “Blackout Blues” (Mississippi) and the show closing “Red Hot Mama” (Louisiana). For the second half of the encore, the timeless Neil Young classic “Mr. Soul” wrapped the night up with high energy, and the audience holding out for a rare second encore that did not come to pass. As fans made their way into the brisk night, Dr. John’s “Right Place, Wrong Time” serenaded an audience who caught a show of rarities on a rare day in a classic venue.
With five sold out shows at The Beacon this year, and three sold out shows last year at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, one can only hope that Widespread Panic will follow in the tradition of another southern rock band, The Allman Brothers Band, and have an annual residency at The Beacon Theatre for years to come.
Thursday, February 27
Set 1: Porch Song, Rebirtha > Greta > Jam > Stop/Go > Little Lilly, Proving Ground > Bust it Big > Proving Ground > Action Man
Set 2: Steven’s Cat > Jam > Walk On > Blight > Help Me Somebody > Jam > Fishwater > Drums > Fishwater >Pilgrims, Pusherman > Conrad
Encore: You Wreck Me > Tall Boy
Friday, February 28
Set 1: Wondering, C.Brown, Can’t Get High, All Time Low> Jam> Junior, 1 x 1, Dark Day Program, You Got Yours, Stop Breakin’ Down Blues
Set 2: Sleeping Man, Ophelia > The Shape I’m In, Surprise Valley > Bear’s Gone Fishin’ > Surprise Valley > Driving Song > E on a G > Driving Song, Don’t Wanna Lose You, Chilly Water
Encore: Blue Indian, Climb to Safety
Saturday, February 29
Set 1: Space Wrangler, Walkin’, Up All Night, Tortured Artist > Sundown Betty, I’m Not Alone, Machine > Barstools and Dreamers > Flat Foot Flewzy
Set 2: Blackout Blues -> Jam in C* -> Airplane -> Holden Oversoul -> Henry Parsons Died > Time Zones, Somewhere in Time, There is a Time, Ride Me High -> Drums-> Ride me High, Red Hot Mama
Encore: This Part of Town > Mr. Soul
*All in the Family theme tease
Sunday, March 1
Set 1: From The Cradle > One-Arm Steve > Let’s Get The Show On The Road > Ribs And Whiskey, Bowlegged Woman, Honky Red, Trouble, Hope In A Hopeless World > Postcard
Set 2: Let’s Get Down To Business, Little Kin, Disco, Diner > No Sugar Tonight > New Mother Nature, Papa’s Home > Drum Solo > Cease Fire > Protein Drink > Sewing Machine
Encore: Vicious, Ain’t Life Grand
Monday, March 2
Set 1: I Wanna Be Sedated, Travelin’ Light, Old Neighborhood, Imitation Leather Shoes, The Last Straw > Pleas, Rock, Jack > Love Tractor
Set 2: The Waker, Pigeons, Hatfield > Impossible^ > Saint Ex^^ > Tie Your Shoes > Jam, Nobody’s Loss, North
Encore: City of Dreams, Life During Wartime
^The Other One tease
^^Won’t Get Fooled Again tease