Widespread Panic Brings The Home Team Heat to Asheville on Halloween (Concert Review)
By Paul Allen • Photos by Ian Rawn Photography (PlayinDead.org)
October 31 is a date circled on the calendar for live music fans every year. This year was no different. With SCI, The Disco Biscuits, Umphreys Mcgee and Widespread Panic all on the road, there was no shortage of good music to go around. This year, Widespread Panic took their carnival on the road to Asheville, NC for a two night run. Expectations were incredibly high as the band decided to forego a long fall tour and instead settled for a shorter, six night run. To put it simply – the boys from Athens, GA did not disappoint.
Upon entering the arena, fans were treated to the stage setup as Floyd’s Barber Shop, with the members of the band eventually walking on stage dressed as characters from the Andy Griffith Show. The show would get off to a fast start as a fiery version of “Ain’t Life Grand” kicked off the festivities. Sharp runs through Bust it Big, All Time Low, I’m Not Alone and Space Wrangler showed that the band was in top form. I’m Not Alone and Space Wrangler stood out as Jimmy was able to let loose and really shine. The set would close with seven straight songs involving Nicky Sanders on fiddle. The Andy Griffith Show theme was made clear when the band played three songs from the program: “Dooley”, “There is a Time” and “The Fishin’ Hole”. Listening to JB sing “The Fishin’ Hole” was a absolute treat. Outstanding versions of Dream Song and Love Tractor closed the first set.
Second sets on Halloween are some known for some of the most unique moments in Widespread Panic history. Last year we were treated to major bust outs in Sweet Leaf and Dirty Business. What would this year’s second set have in store? From the opening notes of Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar”, we knew this year’s second set would be special. The energy in the arena exploded as Jimmy Herring added his own touch to a song that was well suited for the band. The band followed up with Wish You Were Here and Young Lust – sending the crowd into frenzy. Every great set has that one moment that sends it over the edge. On this night, that song was Bowlegged Woman. The return of Bowlegged Woman in Nashville this past summer was a welcome surprise, and this Halloween version would not disappoint. An outstanding version of Jack and Proving Ground lead into One Kind Favor. One Kind Favor gave way to a “The Other One” jam that was another incredible highlight for the night. Schools and Jimmy locked into “The Other One” in a way that lead many to think the band would play the Grateful Dead classic. The post-drums segment of the second set saw another huge bust out in a cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sherriff”. The band finished the show with an incredible encore featuring a beautiful take on Neil Young’s “Journey Through the Past”, the first “Postcard” featuring Duane Trucks on drums, and a first time played in “I Fought the Law”.
As expected, Widespread Panic treated us to an incredible weekend of music to kick off the holiday season. Next up for the band – three nights at the beautiful Fox Theatre in Atlanta for New Years.
The Fishin’ Hole > Love Tractor
The Darlings & Andy Griffith – “Dooley”
WSP’s 10/31 version of “Dooley”