Widespread Panic-Halloween Run 2017- Las Vegas, Nevada: (Oh Yes, It's Ladies Night And The Feelings Right)
Last month, Widespread Panic made another historic Halloween run, this time in Sin City, Las Vegas, Nevada. This show was quite sometime ago but I've had many things going on this past month having moved into a new house and I am just now beginning to reflect on that weekend's events and reviewing my notes.
These shows would mark my 77th, 78th and 79th Widespread Panic shows and as this number increases, so does my need for greater, more thrilling experiences. Destination trips to see my favorite live band appear to be the perfect excuse to see the world/country and also experience great live music at the same time. Having never been to Vegas, I shipped out from Virginia and headed west on a nonstop flight to the biggest tourist trap known to man.
Las Vegas itself is an utter madhouse, a tourist trap of the greatest proportions. Everything here costs $50: food, gambling, entertainment, even women. Picturing the mafia running this place is easy; an oasis of sin in the middle of the desert, no rules, no laws, the real Wild West. Arriving at the airport, our Uber driver took us to an overpriced dispensary and from there, I would encounter all types of characters but not a single Elvis; the lack of Elvis's was concerning to me. Is the King truly dead? Anyway on with the show!
Night 1: (Steady and Strong)
I was very impressed by the youngest member in the band drummer, Duane Trucks. He has shown much improvement and is playing more jazz-based rhythms and accentuating the drum patterns we all have come to know and love. Overall, the band was steady, like a steam train engine on the plains of the great western expanse; chugging along until the very last note. The 'Ace Of Spades' was by far the highlight for me and there were times when JB was truly channeling the spirit of Lemmy himself. After the show, my friends and I visited Fremont Avenue or Old Vegas, where we witnessed all sorts of debaucheries including: a vagrant shooting up in the streets.
1: Heroes (DB), Love Tractor, Tall Boy, The Last Straw > Cotton Was King, Pickin' Up The Pieces, Send Your Mind, Pigeons, Holden Oversoul
2: All Time Low > Jam > Surprise Valley > Papa's Home > Surprise Valley > Stop Breakin' Down Blues, Thought Sausage, Saint Ex > Drums > Radio Child, Vacation, North
E: Blackout Blues, Ace of Spades
Night 2: (Ladies Night)
Saturday night would end up being one of the greatest themed nights, I have ever heard from this band. Every song referenced a woman in someway (Even if you have to stretch it a bit) and this would be my first time hearing 'Coconuts' live. This show was extremely improvisational and each transition saw new and different angles to these musical elements. It's hard to really explain the music from that Saturday night. I have re-listened to the show on numerous occasions via nugs.net and each time, I am more impressed. Widespread Panic was on point and this is a perfect example of why I still continue to travel across the country and see this band. I won't write anymore about this one, I'll just say, go check this show out either on nugs.net or panic stream because it's one of the best shows the boys have played in years; on par with any Milwaukee shows from the past few years.
1: Greta > Little Lilly, Arleen > Ophelia, Party At Your Mama's House > You Should Be Glad, Sharon, Ain't Life Grand
2: Flat Foot Flewzy, Diner > Rebirtha > Christmas Katie > Jam > Good Morning Little Schoolgirl > Aunt Avis, You Can't Always Get What You Want, Coconut, Honey Bee > Red Hot Mama
E: End Of The Show, Bowlegged Woman
Night 3: (The Main Event)
The stage was lit up and decorated with numerous Las Vegas themed paraphernalia, which included: cacti, giant playing cards, dice.
Jimmy Herring was in fine form and carried the band through much of this show with JOJO adding his signature clavi and organ licks, whenever possible. The boys were all dressed up in observance of Halloween that fine Sunday but almost all of them threw the costumes to the side. Stand out performances include: a wild and crazy ride of a 'Proving Ground,' 'Home On The Range' that had church-like influences. Sunday Service with Pastor JB and his band. 'Magic Carpet Ride' was explorative and far-out, taking the song out into the nether reaches of the Jam and back again. Stand out drums… naa just kidding, that shit happens every show now.
Las Vegas is truly a 'City Of Dreams' and its history proves it but all dreams too must die and how long can Vegas hold onto this reign of decadence? 'Mr Soul' was a good cover for this set and proved high energy. JB ditches the guitar for 'Alright Now.' While Sunday's show was the main event, it almost felt as though Sunday’s set-list was switched out for Saturday's and the old adage, "Never miss a Sunday show" did not hold up this time around. And I never even saw Carrot Top on stage either!
1: Home on the Range, Rumble > Henry Parsons Died, Vampire Blues, Don't Tell The Band, Use Me, Up All Night, Shut Up And Drive, Conrad
2: Chilly Water, Tail Dragger, Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys, Proving Ground > Home on the Range, Magic Carpet Ride* > Jam > Drums > Cease Fire > City of Dreams, Mr. Soul
E: House of the Rising Sun > Home on the Range, All Right Now
Looking into the future for Widespread Panic, I see this format of multi-night runs in various cities across the country, a more prominent fixture as the band continues touring and moving forward. I am already gearing up for the recent announcement of the three night run in the DC Harbor. I look forward to seeing the boys again as I get into my 80th show and thinking about what a wild ride it has been. Thanks for reading and again, I apologize about the lateness of this review sometimes, great things take longer to reflect upon.
Jam Band Purist
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.