Widespread Panic performed a special Mother’s Day show on Sunday at Live Oak Bank Pavilion in Wilmington, NC to celebrate the bond between mother and child. The thematic approach of last night’s setlist was reminiscent of 2017’s Ladies’ Night show in Las Vegas, however, the Mother’s Day show demonstrated an intimate understanding of life’s complexities. It was Panic at its best, crafting a unique setlist that pertains to current events or just paying respects to their roots—as a band or individuals—and jamming the funk out.
Getting down to business, Widespread Panic opened the show with a screamin’ “Little Kin”, setting the thematic stage for the night ahead with the lyrics: “He’s his mama’s pride” and “He’s got his mama’s eyes.” Maintaining intensity and motif, WSP asked the rhetorical “Ain’t Life Grand” as John Bell evoked warm childhood memories with his vocals, “And in my mind I was a child / And it felt good!”
John “JoJo” Hermann’s fingers danced into a jaunty “Greta” (“Mother Nature’s come to arms”) before Jimmy Herring turned the dial toward the frequency of “Radio Child” (“Always been the radio’s child / quick-to-smile precious baby”). After Dave Schools introduced the next song with his bass, JB pleaded “Help me mama / for I have grinned” in the opening lines of Vic Chesnutt’s emotionally charged composition, “Aunt Avis”.
Widespread Panic – “Greta” – 5/8/22
[Video: Loma Deren]
As JoJo’s organ faded out, Schools plucked the upbeat rhythm of “You Should Be Glad” (You should be happy my blood runs through your veins”) before Panic caught lightning in a bottle with “Hatfield”. The Mother’s Day rendition included: “Charlie always had the touch / he was always something special / swears his mother / I remember Hatfield’s mama / she was the happiest, glowiest woman in the neighborhood / that’s where all the kids would go play after school.”
Winding down the first frame, Herring led the charge through the sixth-ever performance of Allen Toussaint’s “On Your Way Down”, which was famously covered by Little Feat. To follow, a monster performance of Calvin Carter and Bobby Rush’s “Bowlegged Woman” punctuated the first half of the show. JB added seductive improvisation into the mix, “You had a look in your eye / something different than all the ladies, ladies, ladies/ we can go upstairs / and… uhhh… watch the fish in the fish tank / got some records / lay back in this air conditioning.” As JB’s rap wandered off, Jimmy and JoJo teased the riff from Beastie Boys‘ “So What’cha Want”, I couldn’t help but wonder how many more mamas there were going to be because of this show.
As the band walked back onstage from set break, Schools—like the prior night—led a tease of “I Trusted You” before dropping into David Bromberg’s “Sharon” (“Sharon / What do you do to these men?…You don’t need no money, boy, you pay with your heart”). After, JoJo’s clavinet introduced a behemoth bass-heavy bombardment of “Bust It Big” (“Rosemary’s baby…You’re the one who taught me everything I know”).
Following a brief pause to give the audience a chance to catch its breath, Widespread jammed on the instrumental “Party At Your Mama’s House” until segueing into Robert Johnson’s “Stop Breaking Down” (“Every time I’m walkin’ / down the streets / Some pretty mama start / breakin’ down with me”). Additionally, yesterday would have been the storied Delta blues man’s 111th birthday.
Past the point of no return, Panic performed “Sundown Betty” (“Been dancing since the babies were born”) before finding beauty in imperfections with an angelic “Gradle”. Picking up steam, WSP churned out a succinct “Fishwater” (“Drink more fishwater / Than any whale’s mama ever seen”), complete with a mini-drums breakdown between Duane Trucks and Sunny Ortiz, with Dave Schools on bass.
Winding down the second set, WSP covered The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” for the second time ever after debuting on March 14th this year in Las Vegas. The song’s reassuring tone captured the imagery of a parent attempting to coax a shy child out of their comfort zone to open up for a new experience. (“Dear Prudence / like a little child”) An always-appropriate “Porch Song” closed out the second set with righteous revelry.
Widespread Panic – “Dear Prudence” (The Beatles) – 5/8/22
With a little left in the tank, Widespread Panic returned to the stage one last time to perform Bloodkin’s “Trashy” for the 11th time since Daniel Hutchens’ tragic passing. (“Country kids like me and you”). To end the night with a Mother’s Day exclamation point, Schools dug his heels into the introduction of Parliament‘s “Red Hot Mama”. JB cut loose and left it all out there with a saucy vocal performance, “Red hot mama was a real gas / Doin’ it good and doing it fast / She was smokin’!…Ride on, red hot mama / Girl, you sure look good to me!”
Going down the line, Widespread Panic travels further south for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the newly constructed Orion Amphitheater in Huntsville, AL later this month on May 27th–29th before heading west to Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO on the last weekend of June from the 24th–26th. Beacon Theatre ticketholders wait patiently for the twice-rescheduled run to return for five nights in New York City from July 21st–25th.
For the full tour, click here. Safe travels, Goodpeople, now go home and kiss your mothers.
Setlist [via PanicStream]: Widespread Panic | Live Oak Bank Pavilion | Wilmington, NC | 5/8/22
Ladies Night II: The Mother’s Day Edition
Set One: Little Kin, Ain’t Life Grand, Greta > Radio Child, Aunt Avis (Vic Chesnutt), You Should Be Glad, Hatfield, On Your Way Down (Allen Toussaint), Bowlegged Woman (Calvin Carter, Bobby Rush) (75 mins)
Set Two: Sharon, Bust It Big, Party At Your Mama’s House > Stop Breakin’ Down Blues, Sundown Betty, Gradle, Fishwater > Drums > Dear Prudence (The Beatles), Porch Song (79 mins)
Encore: Trashy (Bloodkin), Red Hot Mama (Parliament) (18 mins)
Notes – ‘On Your Way Down’ LTP 6/29/19 Red Rocks (73 shows)