As Widespread Panic humbly shuffled back to stage to resume the second night of their three night holiday weekend at the Park Theater at the Montecarlo Casino in Las Vegas, there wasn’t a soul ready for their lavish set of music dedicated to the ladies. It is the night that the devoted fan dreams of witnessing live. Right off the bat, the band continued the high energy from the previous night with a lively version of “Greta” which extended into an outstanding “Little Lily”, reminding the kind audience that “it’s only real if you believe.” At almost exactly 10:13 pm, the band appropriately delved into the jam heavy “Arleen” in their usual barn-stomping, field-burning fashion with all the John Bell raps in between.
Continuing the theme of Ladies’ Night, Panic covered The Band’s renowned classic “Ophelia”. The tempo finally slowed down for the first time for a mellow “Party at Your Mama’s House” but quickened for a fiery rendition of the original tune “You Should Be Glad”, reminding the audience that “you should be happy that you are alive.” The reminder rang especially true as the band worked their way into their coveted cover of David Bromberg’s “Sharon”. To top it off, the band kicked into the always raucous anthem “Ain’t Life Grand”, concluding the first set with another friendly reminder to smile, dance, and enjoy the ride.
Watch the show opening “Greta” below, courtesy of the band:
The second set resumed the chivalrous themed mayhem, with a saucy version of the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet’s “Flat Footed Flewzy” eventually progressing into “Diner”, giving Bell more time to improvise in his casual yet calculated off-the-cuff trademark style, romanticizing the early morning hours in the “light of Ms. Lee”. The original jam, “Rebirtha” from the album Bombs and Butterflies sustained the romantic homage and kept the crowd jiving until eventually slowing it down once more for another original tune “Christmas Katie.” The tempo quickened into a psychedelic jam emerging into the well-known and oft-rehearsed old blues standard, “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl.” The entire band worked their way into a comfortable pocket, trading epic high-energy solos and synchronized jams until the opening chords of “Aunt Avis” rang out. Even though it was played a week prior in Milwaukee, it was immediately welcomed by this wild gang of Vegas troubadours. The lyrics to this old school Vic Chestnutt tune proffer a plea to help: “remember how to be good when you feel you really shouldn’t”. The band continued to barrage the audience with moralistic insights with a fitting cover of the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” with a mischievous tease of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” smack dab in the middle of the rowdy jam. In life, and Vegas especially, “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find… you get what you need.” The crowd immediately responded uproariously to the verse concerning Mr. Jimmy, and man, he did look pretty ill.
Watch the second set-opening “Flat Foot Floozy” below, courtesy of the band:
To further enhance the already legendary status of the set, the band settled into their much desired original rarity “Coconuts”, leaving the audience with the feeling that the possibilities for the remainder of the set are immeasurably endless. A first-time-played bust-out paid respects to the recently deceased Tom Petty with a stirring rendition of “Honey Bee” before opening Pandora’s box with the infamous introductory bass lines of “Red Hot Mama”, a recurrent and fiery Parliament Funkadelic cover. The second set ended with an explosive energy that seemed likely to test to structural integrity of the very theater.
Watch Widespread Panic debut “Honey Bee” by Tom Petty below, courtesy of D Ragoose:
After a moment or two, the band reconvened to play the Bloodkin’s “End of the Show” in their slow and precisely deliberate way with all counterparts working together simultaneously; John Bell croonin’, Dave Schools thumpin’, Jimmy Herring meddlin’ with electrostatic currents, JoJo Hermann ticklin’ the ivory, and with Duane Trucks and Sonny Ortiz steadily and patiently holdin’ down the rhythm lines. The icing on the cake of this glorious tribute to ladies’ night was the erotically suggestive grand finale of “Bowlegged Woman.” With so many sought after rarities in one night, this Saturday prompts many to question the notion if chivalry is -in fact- really dead. And if chivalry is dead, Widespread Panic might very well be the catalyst that begins its revival with a night full of wondrously awesome and masterfully professional musical tribute to ladies’ night.
Setlist: Widespread Panic | Park Theater at Monte Carlo | Las Vegas, NV | 10/28/2017
Greta > Little Lilly > Arleen, Ophelia, Party At Your Mom’s House > You Should Be Glad, Sharon, Ain’t Life Grand
II: Flat Foot Floozy, Diner > Rebirtha > Christmas Katie > Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, Aunt Avis, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Coconut, Honey Bee (FTP) > Red Hot Mama
E: End of the Show, Bowlegged Woman
[photo by A.J. Genovesi]