Friday night, Widespread panic returned once again to Red Rocks Amphitheater for their annual celebration descend. As usual, the band performed to a sold-out crowd on opening night three and brought their southern warmth to the faithful. This weekend also brings Panic’s tally to over seventy shows at the infamous venue since their first performance in May 1996 and between turnout and turnout, neither the band nor the crowd showed any signs that this scheduled weekend event ends at any time. soon. Despite being off the road for nearly a month, this tried and tested talent group needed no warming up or a moment to shake off the rust and give the crowd a rest. of ability all she had.
With perfect temperatures and overcast skies, the first set kicked off a little after 7 p.m. John Bell stepped up to the microphone and greeted the crowd with that unmistakable raspy voice: “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
With that, the band opened with “Pigeons” and the night was on. The sound was dialed in from the start and the whole place started shaking. The room was full of good vibrations and from that first note, it was easy to feel that it was going to be a good evening. Chuck Berry’s “Let It Rock” took second place and made everyone appreciate the soulful blues this band delivers so well. This issue would also begin the nearly non-stop segue delight that would be the whole thing. Without a break, the band moved on to “Chilly Water”. With the intermittent raindrops and chilly evening, this lineup felt fitting, and the transition to FIREHOUSE’s “Sometimes” just made everyone smile and bounce back with the group.
Stopping for just a moment, Jorma Kaukonen’s “Genesis” was warmly acknowledged by the audience. The rise in power was precise and beautiful and gave way to a vertiginous ascent before moving on to the thunderous “Big Wooly Mammoth”. The pachyderm of power was the last bit before the closing of the “Chilly Water” sandwich, which came in at nearly ten minutes and with the level of energy deployed, it certainly didn’t come out as an afterthought or conclusion abandoned. You’d think that after nearly an hour of solid, dynamic play the band would catch their breath, but instead the six continued on, once again moving into the unsettling “Blight.” This piece was the first commentary on the Roe v. Wade decision and Dave Schools voiced his opinion, ordering everyone to “stand by your wife’s side because her body belongs to her”, then at the end of the tune reminding everyone that “we are stronger together, we have to stick together”. “Greta” was next and her rebound was a perfect juxtaposition to her uneasy predecessor. “Greta” transitioned into a nice, funky five-minute jam before settling into the classic Panic “Space Wrangler” for the closer set.
After a forty-five-minute break, the second set opened with a two-punch of Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me” and the band’s original “You Got Yours.” “C.Brown” reached third base and began another setlist arrow streak as the band would play the rest of the night in transition with only one notable break. “Little Lilly” came next and the band dropped a great four-minute jam in the middle that was full of angular rewards and showed that the band can certainly still bring out high-level improvisation. “Radio Child” and “All Time Low” went on to reveal why this band sold out this place for decades and the ticket is worth every penny and probably for the most part we all get away cheap.
With everyone in need of a break to revitalize, JB took the room through a smooth, singsong rendition of Neil Young’s “Don’t Be Denied.” The melancholy of the piece obviously engendered many hugs and nostalgic looks throughout the room. At its end, the band took a short break, had a drink, and reassembled to close the set. As it took off, “Airplane” took off and flew off, turning into a big jam before landing at “Diner.” Closing the frame with a reminder of positivity, “Ain’t Life Grand” was a chant from the first word and got everyone moving.
For the encore, the band showed that they love playing in this room as much as we love attending. Showing no signs of exhaustion, the band delivered a two-song encore in “None of Us Are Free” and “Lawyer, Guns, and Money,” both of which gave the band one last chance for social commentary and showed to the fans on exactly which side of the line they stand on: with us and against all that is false, corrupt, and what needs to be challenged through love, protest, and for the positivity of change.
In the end, everyone got what they were waiting for: nearly three hours of soul-freeing music that shifted spectra and genres, and showed that what this band brings is original, inspired, and worth movement and time. The fanbase certainly demonstrates the family aspect and it was refreshing once again to see this camp filled with fans of all races, ages and genders, coming together as a community and sharing the notes that unite us and make us stronger. as a group while strengthening us as individuals.
Check out more photos from the show.