Widespread Panic returned to Charlotte, NC, continuing their New Year's Eve tradition and celebration for the third year. I was lucky enough to attend all three shows and this year, like the years before, did not disappoint. Having seen almost 50 Widespread Panic shows, New Year's Eve is always a show that leaves audience wanting more. I arrived early at the venue, walking around the lot scene, checking out T-shirts and some random artwork.
I then got in line with my friends so that I could grab a copy of the show poster for that night. Over the years, Widespread Panic fans have collected and traded concert posters back and forth. This tradition has grown throughout the years and the poster for that night was a beautifully decorative buffalo skull surrounded by an Indian headdress. Getting the poster was easy, but finding my seat for this event seemed difficult. The staff was busy doing other duties, so patrons fended for themselves when finding the location of their seats. I don't know if I found my exact seat or not, but I took refuge directly in front of the stage without incident.
The show started with a dreamy “C. Brown” and “Space Wrangler” and continued that feeling with a lengthy “Ain’t life Grand”; then came the wave of covers. Three Bill Withers covers, “Lean On Me,”“Ain't No Sunshine” and “Use Me.” The triple cover theme would occur again with a hilarious version of the Pop hit Pharrell song “Happy” which included Dave schools, the bass player, clapping avidly along with the crowd. This transformed into the Rolling Stones song “Happy” and then into their original song “Happy”. This made for a triple “Happy”, which the lead singer JB said into the mic, “happy happy, happy,” which has now became the motto of the New Year’s 2014-15 show. T-shirts have since been produced.
More covers got the crowd in spirit with a “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature” and with the recent death of Joe Cocker, the band played a “High with a little help with my friends” the Beatles song made ever more famous by Cocker, and “High Time We Went” these songs were played in honor of the fallen rock star. While Widespread Panic didn't play a show that was heavier on improvisational jams, they played a show that was a marathon of sing-alongs and covers that brought the feel good vibes that a New Year's Eve show is supposed to bring. I witnessed thousands of couples and loved ones embrace when the clock struck 12. Then they danced their hearts out, all night. Never miss a New Year’s show.
1: C. Brown, Space Wrangler, No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature, Ain't Life Grand, Lean On Me*, Ain't No Sunshine*, Use Me*
2: Disco, Pigeons, Henry Parsons Died, Greta > You Got Yours, Imitation Leather Shoes, Weight Of The World*, Sharon*
3: Happy (RS)* > Happy > Happy (PW)*, Porch Song > Blackout Blues, Cotton Was King, Climb To Safety, Stop Breakin' Down Blues > Drums > Chilly Water, Pilgrims > Porch Song
E: High Time We Went, A Little Help From My Friends*
Entire show with Duane Trucks on drums
* with The MegaBlasters on horns
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.