Review: Widespread Panic @ Pepsi Center

[Photo by Ian Rawn of and]

The first time I saw Panic in Colorado was at Red Rocks in 1998. They blew me away with their frenetic jamming under the Colorado sun. I had also seen Yonder Mountain String Band weekly in 1998, when they were playing the Mountain Sun in Boulder for free. After the show, they would run to the parking garage next to the venue and play until the police came. I love Yonder and Panic—never in my wildest imagination, did I expect to see them together… especially for a New Year’s run.

The first night, I caught most of the Yonder show and was very impressed. They have become much tighter since the last time I saw them. They played many older songs, which I was familiar with and brought me back to my early twenties. Panic opened their first to two concerts with Fishwater, which is always a welcome opener. Then they played Walkin, Wonderin, and You Should Be Glad, which aren’t my favorites. These songs are played often and I like surprises on New Years runs!

I got into it once Dave played a dirty Blight, which got everyone moving. Blight went into Climb to Safety followed by Gimme >Little Kin before the boys ended the first set with Action Man. Now that’s ending a set with a roar! The crowd was rocking and the energy in the Pepsi center was great. I sat back in anticipation of a rocking second set and hoped the boys would play with Yonder.

The second set started with a B of D, Time Zones, Genesis (great love song) and Flicker>Pigeons. At that point all hell broke loose. Pigeons weaved into a rare cover of Maggot Brain which gave way to a spicy Drums segment. Schools came out and led the drummers into The Other One Jam, which the whole band joined in on. I believe the whole band hasn’t played an Other One jam like that since the late eighties.

Jimmy led the band into the ending of Maggot Brain before JB took Pigeons to a final explosion. “Wake up! Leave your body lying there!” Then the band went into Christmas Katie > Radio Child which got everyone rocking again. The band ended the set with Imitation Leather Shoes and encored with Tickle the Truth and the Dead’s Cream Puff War. Speaking of which I definitely felt an underlying dead vibe to the show, which I enjoyed thoroughly.

[Photo by Ian Rawn of and]

For New Year’s Eve the boys pulled out all the stops and surprises were everywhere. As Panic played one classic after another it was clear the first set was their entire first album, Space Wrangler, played in order. This was a huge treat for everyone that is an old and new school Panic fan. I definitely recommend downloading this show.

The second set started at midnight with Gary, one of Panic’s road managers, talking about the highlights of 2008. JoJo came out wearing a collared shirt and a blue blazer and JB sang As Time Goes By. Then the band welcomed the new year with Tall Boy and Walk on the Flood. The Boys were getting hot, and treated us to Ain’t Life Grand, Who Do You Belong To and Fixin’ To Die with YMSB’s Jeff Austin and Dave Johnston.

The jamming between these impressive musicians brought the music and energy to another level. Jeff seemed thoroughly excited to be on stage with the boys and everyone loved the pickin’ on Fixin’ to Die. After the Yonder boys were done, Jimmy and JB continued to play acoustic. They slowed things down with a tender Vacation, while Jimmy sat—the rest of the band stood. If I am not mistaken, this was the first time since Mikey died that the lead guitarist was sitting. Right in Mikey’s usual spot, quite symbolic.

As everyone in the venue continued to celebrate in style the band played Clinic Cynic, Weak Brain, Narrow Mind and ended the acoustic mini-set with Neil Young cover/crowd favorite Don’t be Denied which had everyone singing along. At that point, Jimmy got up and the boys started playing electric again. They rocked out Angels on High and Arleen, which brought the energy level up, ending the second set with Papa’s Home > Give. Just like the rest of the run, the encore a high energy affair. Widespread started the encore with the fitting Up All Night and ended the run with two older crowd favorites: Disco and Love Tractor. It was a late New Year’s, and I didn’t leave the Pepsi Center until 2:25 – Panic’s latest New Year’s show in a long time.

After the show was over there was a private, catered, after show party, at the Crowne Plaza. If I thought hippies overran the Plaza before, this after-show took the cake. There were too many people there and I was unable to attend due to the crowd. All and all Widespread’s Colorado run had a great vibe. There are rumors that the boys signed a five-year contract with the Pepsi Center. Hey, I just hope they play for five years period.

Widespread Panic
Pepsi Center
Denver, CO

SET I: Fishwater, Walkin’ (for Your Love) > Wondering, You Should Be Glad, Blight > Climb To Safety, Gimme (a Kiss on Tuesday) > Little Kin > Action Man
SET II: B of D > Time Zones > Genesis, Flicker > Pigeons > Maggot Brain > The Other One Jam > Drums > Jam > Maggot Brain > Pigeons, Christmas Katie > Radio Child > Imitation Leather Shoes
ENCORE: Tickle The Truth Into Submission > Cream Puff War

SET I: Chilly Water > Travelin’ Light , Space Wrangler > Coconut > The Take Out > Porch Song > Stop-Go > Driving Song > Breathing Slow
SET II: Time Goes By > Tall Boy > Walk on the Flood, Ain’t Life Grand* > Who Do You Belong To* , Fixin To Die* , Vacation > Cynic Clinic , Weak Brain Narrow Mind , Don’t Be Denied , Angels On High , Arleen > Papa’s Home , Give
ENCORE: Up All Night > Disco > Love Tractor

+ Space Wrangler album played live for Set I
* with Jeff Austin on mandolin and David Johnston on banjo (Yonder Mountain String Band)

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4 Responses

  1. I had the same initial thought about snowboarding and WSP, but have to ask, why would you go to Breck and why would you bother with an aftershow/hotel full of wookies?

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