Widespread Panic Red Rocks 2018 (Solid Rock in Colorado)
Back at Red Rocks for my 5th year of sold out shows from Widespread Panic, one of my absolute favorite touring bands out there. While I had to really scrape up the cash to make these shows work, I can still remember dreaming of being at Red Rocks and now, I have seen 15 WSP shows here. What an experience it always is to return to Colorado for this pilgrimage. The band would open with "Solid Rock" for the megalithic rocks on each side of the audience. I have become quite familiar with them both over the years. Ship Rock and Creation Rock both, encapsulate this venue for the ages. Widespread Panic again solidify their sold out, record holding shows at Red Rocks 2018. The foundation of this music is built on solid rock!
"One Arm Steve" was short and to the point and was followed by “Glory” which was again, quick and done. "Contentment Blues" was hard and raw, finally letting Jimmy out of his cage. Stepping it up a notch with "Send Your Mind", I hadn't heard this tune in a few shows. "Sleeping Man" began with the crowd chanting, "You’re a freak of nature!" This song explores the dark, conspiratorial side of the band. A long jam was next, moving forward into "Driving Song." A woman in front of me burst into tears of joy; I want to get back to that place.
"Space Wrangler," a classic Panic song, can literally go anywhere musically. I've heard them reach the nether reaches of jam and sometimes they seem to barely take off. This “Wrangler” would see high crescendos and even a projection of Elon Musk’s Tesla car in space, journeying through a cosmic adventure before returning to “driving song.” The background image of the Tesla, would be tweeted by Elon himself, but I am not sure if he was at the show or, just sharing. Been waiting for that "Travelin’ Light" but overall a fairly short first set.
Opening the second set with "Protein Drink/Sewing Machine" making the term sewing machine itself, almost sound sinister. This song is a Red Rocks staple and this was one of the best I have heard yet. "1x1" had not heard in awhile but I wasn't sure about “Happy” until the instrumental jam, which was southern gothic in nature. If you haven’t heard my definition yet, you can check it out in some of my previous reviews. It exemplifies Widespread Panics sounds, ups and downs. This song will extend on into a improvisational jam breakdown. “B of D” and “Love Tractor” go hand in hand into another extended jam. “Drums” again and again every show…
Thank The Grand Zombie! After 8 longs years of waiting, I get another “golden splinters” and it was well worth the wait with one of the best renditions I have heard with a beat box ending into “Papa Legba.” What a perfect combination of Dr john and Talking heads songs both, oozing voodoo lyrics and dark qualities. Not much to say about “stop breaking down or the encore “You Got Yours” but I did notice Every time JB turns his back to the crowd, the jams begin.
Saturday's event would begin with “Rebirtha” and quickly into a slow jam that would meld into “Black Out Blues” which was again, a little slow warming up. “Little Kin” picked up the pace with JB whaling those vocals and Jimmy bringing in the lead.
“Radio Child” had Red Rocks on its feet and the crowd dancing. Jimmy
Herring’s final notes on the guitar were as epic, as any Red Rocks show I have experienced. Moving on quickly again to “C Brown” this songs origins lie somewhere in the peanuts comic strip with Snoopy being the dog that's as good as any man. One of the reasons I love panic is their pet and animal references many regarding them as more important than anything. “Tickle The Truth” highlights the songwriting from this group and the existentialism of WSP. “Stop And Go” would see Dave Schools dropping bass bombs on Morrison, Colorado. Bring that soup bowl home and JB shredding the slide. “Tail Dragger” to close out the first set
Second set, opening with “North,” Jojo formidable on keys. “Sharon” is always a treat, what a great cover with some interesting lyrics as JB coos like a pigeon. Should I, “Sell, Sell" all my Sunday tickets? I wasn’t quite sure. With their past track record of slow, Sunday shows at Red Rocks, I was undecided about the returning again…
“Second Skin” was pretty epic and with lyrics that are refreshing and enlightening. A wind delay would make this a 3-set show and the screen would remain off for the entire weekend. “Greta” is played for the weather and then “Cease Fire” which is still one of the best examples of Panic’s sound and musical structure. “Blue Indian” had the entire crowd singing at top of our lungs and a blistering, “Holden Oversoul” would lead into “Puppy Sleeps” a song, that I have never heard but enjoyed laughing about later with friends. “Expiration Day” is always an epic ending to any show. Lightening could be seen over Denver in the distance adding to the already spectacular light show. “Flat Foot Floozy” was American AF and so was that “Porch Song” encore.
OK...So, I didnt skip Sunday at Red Rocks completing my five full years of WSP Red Rocks run. I have climbed up that mountainous venue 30 times and decided to take a break next year. I also decided not to cover Sunday and take a breather from music writing. Festival season is upon us and I have lots of new reviews and content coming soon! We all need to take a vacation sometime. These shows at Red Rocks have meant so much to me over the years and its a good example of making your dreams come true. Red Rocks remains my favorite venue of all time and the shows seen here will go down in history forever. Thank you WSP!
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.