Widespread Panic Rocks Wilmington
Widespread Panic came to Riverfront Park Amphitheater (now Live Oak Bank Pavillion) in Wilmington, NC to christen the new venue with three sold-out shows. This was the first time the band from Athens, GA (established 1986) performed in Wilmington since Azalea Festival 2014. The city was ready, and the Southern hospitality was at its finest; the nicest of people welcomed us Spreadheads with open arms.
FRIDAY, JULY 16
John Bell and band wasted no time picking up where they left off… on fire, opening the show with a good ole original, “A of D,” getting the crowd loosened up for what lay ahead, transitioning into Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns, and Money”; that had the crowd on its feet and ready to rock and roll. Dave Schools and the heavy bass notes of this song had the fans dancing and smiling large.
Next up, “One Armed Steve” into a sweet John Bell-led “Stop Breaking Down Blues,” keeping the energy going strong. “Cotton Was King > Holden Oversoul > Fixin’ to Die (Bukka White),” then “Picking Up the Pieces > Climb to Safety” to end the first set. This new venue had great eats and plenty of beverages for all. VIP had a nice elevated view and private bars and restrooms. After a 45-minute set break, it was time for second set.
Widespread Panic opened up with a deep, dark, dirty “Second Skin,” and we are off to the races. Up next was that ever-so-rare “Sharon” (David Bromberg), most definitely a crowd favorite, as the energy tripled upon the first few notes. The Dave Schools’ bass-led “Machine > Barstools” with a JB rap, always a favorite heavy-duty tandem. “Pigeons > 1 X 1 > New Blue,” finishing off the set with “Surprise Valley” and “Proven Ground > Mr. Soul (Buffalo Springfield).”
Encore: “Nobody’s Loss > North (Jerry Joseph)”
That was show #5 Post-Pandemic hiatus, with Jimmy Herring melting faces more than ever, Schools’ bombs bigger and bigger, JB jamming like never before, and Jojo Hermann, Sunny Ortiz, and Duane Trucks delivering the goods harder and faster. Loving the biggest smiles from all the members on stage. So glad to be back!
SATURDAY, JULY 17
Day two of three, and it’s game time. Opening up with “Ribs and Whiskey” is always a great start with Jimmy and JB and then into “Wondering,” showcasing some great drumming and percussion from Duane Trucks and Sunny Ortiz.
JB switched guitars for a great rendition of “C. Brown” leading into “You Wreck Me” (Tom Petty), “Dying Man > Chainsaw City” (Jerry Joseph) and “Hatfield,” ending the first set with “For What It’s Worth” (Buffalo Springfield). Another solid first set in the books, and what was upcoming would be momentous!
Second set opened with “Slipping into the Darkness” (War) > “Greta,” and everyone was dancing and singing out loud. “Life During Wartime” (Talking Heads) > “Driving Song > The Last Straw> HAPPY CHILD” (LTP 2002) > “Last Straw > HAPPY CHILD > Driving > Genesis” (Jorma Kaukonen) > “Arleen > Chilly Water” (nowhere near as wet as last week’s). Super Sandwich Served!
Encore: “Vacation > Porch Song”
BAM, Ladies and Gents! That was one helluva second set and complete show. My most favorite second set this year. Let’s see what’s left.
SUNDAY, JULY 18
Finishing up a terrific three-night soldout inaugural run in Wilmington, Widespread Panic had one more gem for us. But there it was again: inclement weather. Heavy rains and thunderstorms kept delaying the start to the point that there was a Question whether or not the band would even take the stage. Finally the word came out YES, doors at 8 p.m. We were rewarded, and the place was full after a three-hour delay. The band took the stage shortly after 9 p.m. This was Jojo Hermann’s birthday, and the crowd was sending our love to him. JB kicked it off with a stellar “Tall Boy” and with a little rain still falling on us all into “Space Wrangler > Black Out Blues > Stop-Go > You Got Yours.” Up next “Imitation Leather Shoes” and “Little Kin.” Then this happened: “Disco > Little Lilly > Pilgrims > Bear’s Gone Fishin’ > Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys > Ride Me High > Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys > Rebirtha > Big Wooly Mammoth > Henry Parsons Died > Ain’t Life Grand.” That was 142 minutes of pure bliss. Thank YOU!
Encore: “Dream Song > Traveling Light” (J.J Cale) > “Last Dance” (Neil Young)
What great city, wonderful venue, and incredible three days of Widespread Panic!
Thank you Widespread Panic, Paul Hoffman and Pulse Lighting, Home Team.
Asheville: YOU’RE NEXT! See everyone there. On to another city we go!