Widespread Panic Returns to New York City for Five Nights at the Beacon
Widespread Panic returned to the Big Apple for a five-show residency at the Beacon Theatre February 27 through March 2 with plenty of bust-outs while delivering night after night for the lucky few who were able to attend the sold-out shows. The first stateside shows since the ninth installment of Panic en la Playa in late January; these would be five incredible shows.
This Beacon run would be the test for all who were fortunate enough to attend and complete all of the shows. (We train for this.) Word in the community was the boys from Georgia brought out the five-stack pancakes, and I can tell you that they were mighty tasty, and we want more, more, more. The last time WSP was at the Beacon theatre was April 2003.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 27
Opening up night one with “Porch Song” into a heavy-duty “Rebirtha” got the crowd started; next up a killer version of JoJo Hermann’s “Greta” into 13+ minute version of “Stop-Go” that included a “That Don’t Make It Junk” rap from John Bell leading into a smoking Jimmy Herring face-melting “Little Lily.” There was a powerful “Proving Ground > Bust It Big > Proving Ground > Action Man” to end the first set.
Second-set opener from the last studio album Street Dogs was “Steven’s Cat,” gettin the WSP Machine cranked up and ready to rock and roll. Up next was “Walk On” into a lovely Dave Schools-led “Blight” into a crowd pleasing “Help Me Somebody.” Nothing but highlights for the remainder of the set: “Fishwater > Pilgims,” “Pusherman,” and ending with a loud “Conrad” featuring Sunny Ortiz and Duane Trucks beating the drums like never before.
WSP ended night 1 with Tom Petty cover “You Wreck Me” into JoJo Hermann’s “Tall Boy,” sending everyone out to enjoy NYC late night with big smiling happy faces.
02/27/20 Beacon Theatre, New York, NY
1: Porch Song, Rebirtha, Greta, Stop-Go > Little Lilly, Proving Ground > Bust It Big > Proving Ground, Action Man
2: Steven’s Cat > Walk On, Blight > Help Me Somebody > Fishwater > Pilgrims, Pusherman, Conrad
E: You Wreck Me, Tall Boy
[‘That Don’t Make It Junk’ rap by JB during ‘Stop-Go’]
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28
As the NYC temps dropped outside, the heat was just getting turned up few more notches inside the Beacon Theatre for WSP’s show number 2 of 5. Opening up “Wondering > C. Brown” was just the beginning of pedal-to-the-metal night that was ahead of us. “Up All Night jam > Junior > 1X1” led to the first bustout of the run, “Dark Day Program.” “You Got Yours > Stop Breakin’ Down Blues” shut down the first set.
Dave Schools opened the second set with heavy “Sleepy Monkey,” and then Jojo took us through a momentous rendition of “Ophelia > The Shape I’m In.” “Bear’s Gone Fishin’” was sandwiched inside a sweet “Surprise Valley.” “Driving Song” included the ever-elusive “E on G” (sources say the 12th time ever), and finally “Don’t Wanna Lose You” and “Chilly Water” had the traditional crowd-throwing water that we all love to end the set.
Encore: “Blue Indian> Climb To Safety.” Day two was in the books, and we still have 3 more days to go!
02/28/20 Beacon Theatre, New York, NY
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
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
E: Blue Indian, Climb To Safety
[‘Give Me Back My Wig’ rap by JB during ‘Stop Breakin’ Down Blues’; ‘Jaws’ theme by Dave before ‘Sleeping Man’; Last ‘Dark Day Program’ – 07/09/11, 470 shows]
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 29 LEAP DAY
“Space Wrangler” got the crowd ready to rock, with “Walkin’ > Up All Night” and a lovely Jojo “Tortured Artist.” This led into “Sundown Betty,” and then the pedal was pushed to the floor with “Machine > Barstools and Dreamers” into favorite “Flat Foot Flewzy,” Dave Schools getting all of us once again into Panic Frenzy to end the first set. Whew!!!
Second set and heat was on again. “Black Out Blues > Airplane > Holden Oversoul” and into smoking “Henry Parsons > Time Zones > Somewhere in Time > There is a Time” (getting a lot of time references: leap day, one would guess). Jojo blasted J.J. Cale’s “Ride Me High” into “Red Hot Mama” to close.
Encore: “This Part of Town > Mr. Soul.” Number 3 in the books, and life is good!
02/29/20 Beacon Theatre, New York, NY
1: Space Wrangler, Walkin’ (For Your Love), Up All Night, Tortured Artist, Sundown Betty, I’m Not Alone, Machine > Barstools and Dreamers, Flat Foot Flewzy
2: Blackout Blues, Jam > Airplane, Holden Oversoul, Henry Parsons Died, Time Zones, Somewhere In Time > There Is A Time, Ride Me High > Red Hot Mama
E: This Part Of Town, Mr. Soul
[‘Those Were The Days’ tease by Jimmy before ‘Airplane’]
SUNDAY, MARCH 1
NYC, Widespread Panic, and all of us… Yes.
Opening with “From the Cradle” (so glad this came off the shelf) meant we were in for a treat. Next “One Armed Steve > Let’s Get The Show on the Road” into John Bell and his slide for “Ribs and Whiskey > Bowlegged Woman > Honkey Red.” They ended the first set with a crowd fav “Postcard.”
JB kicked off second set with “Let’s Get Down to Business > Little Kin > Disco > Diner” into the Guess Who cover “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature” and a smoking “Papa’s Home > Drums > Cease Fire > Protein Drink > Sewing Machine”; so much energy.
Encore: “Vicious” ( Lou Reed ) and “Ain’t” Life Grand,” and night 4 was complete, and unbelievably we still had one more show.
03/01/20 Beacon Theatre, New York, NY
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
2: Let’s Get Down To Business, Little Kin, Disco, Diner > No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature, Papa’s Home, Drums > Cease Fire > Protein Drink > Sewing Machine
E: Vicious, Ain’t Life Grand
[Last ‘Vicious’ – 10/31/03, 1003 shows]
MONDAY, MARCH 2
We had come the finish line of the Widespread Panic Beacon five-day marathon and could only imagine what the six-headed monster has in store for our last night off Broadway.
The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” was the perfect launching pad, and we were off to the races. This led to the longtime favorite, J.J. Cale’s “Travelin’ Light.” From there out came “Old Neighborhood” and “Imitation Leather Shoes.” Next JB led us through lovely “Last Straw > Pleas > Rock > Jack” and into great set-ending “Love Tractor.”
“Waker” introduced set two (fourth time played since Mikey), then “Pigeons” and “Hatfield” before a huge “Impossible > St. Ex > Tie Your Shoes > jam > Nobody’s Loss.” Jerry Joseph’s “North” put an exclamation on the powerheavy second set!
Encore: All Talking Heads: “City Of Dreams > Life During Wartime”
03/02/20 Beacon Theatre, New York, NY
1: I Wanna Be Sedated, Travelin’ Light, Old Neighborhood, Imitation Leather Shoes, The Last Straw > Pleas, Rock, Jack > Love Tractor
2: The Waker, Pigeons, Hatfield, Impossible > Saint Ex > Tie Your Shoes > Jam > Nobody’s Loss, North
E: City of Dreams, Life During Wartime
[‘The Other One’ tease after ‘Impossible’; ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ tease by JoJo after ‘Saint Ex’; ‘I Trusted You’ tease before ‘City of Dreams’]
This was Paul Hoffman’s 800th show. Thank you Paul, Pulse Lighting, and the crews for continually bringing the heat night after night; we appreciate you!!!
What an incredible run in the Big Apple: no guests, ten heavy-duty crowd-pleasing sets. THANK YOU!
Bust-outs: “Dark Day Program,” “E on G,” and “Vicious”
We survived the five days and can only hope that this residency returns in 2021.
Thank you, Widespread Panic and the crews for continuing to give us the best musical experiences on the planet… See you next time!