Widespread Panic closed out their weekend run at The Theater at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas with an absolutely smoking show of originals, improvised jams, tributes to their most impactful influences, and an encore debut of a Beatles tune. In true Panic tradition, Sunday’s shows are not to be missed and ya just never know what’s coming, especially in Las Vegas.
Celebrating JoJo Hermann‘s 30th anniversary in the band, Widespread Panic appropriately kicked off the last show with “One Arm Steve”. JoJo, on the vocal helm, retold the humorous account of his first show with the band before strolling into Neil Young’s “Walk On.” The first cover of the evening featured a quick “Turn On Your Love Light” tease.
An exuberant “Rebirtha” commemorated the return of baseball and was followed by a short tease of Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine”. “Postcard” arrived in the Sunday post, which was signed, sealed, and delivered with Panic’s stamp of approval, as a spirited John Bell echoed a familiar sentiment, “This town is nuts / My kinda place / I don’t wanna leave!”
For the first time this year, Panic launched into Alan Price’s jaunty “Sell Sell”, which hinted that the “next one’s (St. Augustine?) gonna be the best one of the year!” Keeping the late Daniel Hutchens tune in rotation, Panic covered Bloodkin’s “Trashy” for the ninth time since his heartbreaking departure from this world last year.
JoJo manipulated the fading sounds to segue into the heaviest jam of the set with “You Got Yours”. To follow, for the first time ever, JoJo serenaded “Dark Bar” as a standalone song instead of being sandwiched inside the middle of “Good People”. A linking transition fired up “Love Tractor” for one last ride before the close of the first frame.
Returning from the shadows for a smoking second set, Panic took the audience for a trip down memory lane with “Old Neighborhood” before unseating “Jack” from the casino table. The magical Jimmy Herring pulled an endless array of tricks from his wizard robe sleeves, ripping through the selections with ease and casual grace.
To nourish the soul, “Diner” sheltered the vagrants of Sin City as Widespread served up hearty portions off the menu. As is tradition, JB improvised and painted a colorful picture that included “[Ms. Lee] opening up early / a hair before sunrise / I’d gladly pay you Tuesday for a couple hamburgers today / Remember when we watched cartoons together / ‘That’s All Folks’” before adding a legendary, never-been-done-before “Her Dance Needs No Body” rap.
Continuing to pull from their deep well of originals, Panic blazed through “Pilgrims” before meandering into a monster rendition of “You Should Be Glad.” After a brief pause, JB growled his best Howlin’ Wolf impression for a filthy-dirty cut of “Smokestack Lightning”, complete with wolf howls and JoJo’s pristine piano sounds.
After Duane Trucks and Sunny Ortiz wound the blues traditional down, JB licked the grease from his fingers and declared his insatiable love for chicken by diving headfirst into “Contentment Blues”. To close out the second set, a sentimental rendition of Jorma Kaukonen’s “Genesis” set the stage for a rowdy “Fishwater” finale. Dave Schools and JB went back and forth on the vocals, walking along the boundary of madness and sanity.
For the last encores of the weekend, Widespread Panic turned to Pops Staples for “Hope in a Hopeless World” before the first rendition of The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” in the band’s long and storied history. Once again, the band touched upon the tense geopolitical relations with their encore selection.
D’you got a quarter for the homeless man
Spare some change for the soldiers who fought the war
Put a little money in those hats and those tins
Give them hope in a hopeless world
Looking for hope in a hopeless world
Searchin’ for love in these hateful times
Widespread Panic – “Dear Prudence” (The Beatles) – 3/13/22
Looking through the periscope, St. Augustine Amphitheatre lies on the horizon. Widespread Panic washes ashore on those sunny beaches on March 25th–27th. After a short springtime hiatus, the band heads north to return to Wilmington, NC on May 6th–8th. For the full tour, click here. Stay well and safe travels, Goodpeople.
Setlist [via PanicStream]: Widespread Panic | Virgin Hotels Las Vegas | Las Vegas, NV | 3/13/22
Set One: One Arm Steve, Walk On, Rebirtha > Postcard, Sell Sell, Trashy > You Got Yours, Dark Bar > Love Tractor (67 mins)
Set Two: Old Neighborhood, Jack, Diner > Pilgrims > You Should Be Glad, Smokestack Lightning > Contentment Blues, Genesis > Fishwater (84 mins)
Encore: Hope In A Hopeless World, Dear Prudence (17 mins)
Notes – ‘Turn On Your Love Light’ tease during ‘Walk On’
– ‘Cocaine’ jam out of ‘Rebirtha’
– First stand alone ‘Dark Bar’
– ‘Her Dance Needs No Body’ rap during ‘Diner’
– ‘Dear Prudence’ FTP (The Beatles)