After Sunday’s malevolent exorcism courtesy of Widespread Panic, the excited audience on Manhattan’s Upper West Side filed back into the revered Beacon Theatre one final time on Monday to round out the five-night stretch. The band responded by emerging from the shadows to perform what will surely be recognized as one of the best shows in the Jimmy Herring era.

The sextet started almost ten minutes earlier than the past few days to begin a cataclysmic barrage of heaters, holding nothing back and giving more than anyone could have asked for. As if the two historic sets weren’t enough, Panic also performed a 40-minute curtain call, playing five songs in the encore for only the fourth time—and only one of those previous instances came following a multi-set show, all the way back in 1988.

Without wasting any time, Widespread Panic opened with “Saint Ex”, soaring above the clouds before crash-landing into the flooded streets of “Hatfield”. JoJo Hermann was cooking on piano until John Bell dove into a short improvised rap section: “I remember Hatfield’s mama / Big ol’ beautiful soul / used to bring us homemade beer and biscuits when we were playing / And it was so hot, hot, hot in the summertime! / I remember one day, it was so hot / we had our heads back, looking at the clouds / T-shirts drying in the sun / Hatfield’s sister came rolling up on her boyfriend’s motorcycle / with nothing but a twelve pack of Pabst Bluuuuuuuuueeee Ribbon!” It wasn’t coincidence that the tune emerged only after the heat wave that had lingered throughout the run had broken a few hours earlier.


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To follow, guitarist Jimmy Herring dazzled with off-the-cuff cosmic wanderings through “Pilgrims” before JoJo’s piano introduced “This Part of Town” (“Where there is love / there is hope”). JB effortlessly switched styles from vulnerable, deranged, and distraught to that of a maniacal perfectionist as he attempted to ace the flavor and temperature of his legendary gumbo recipe during the subsequent “Thought Sausage” (“Stuff ain’t ready yet!).

Another hard-hitting tune—and the first cover of the first set—came next in Murray McLauchlan’s “Honky Red” led into a cataclysmic rager, “Tie Your Shoes”. Making the audience drool with excitement, JoJo included a tease of Little Feat’s “Spanish Moon” into the mix here before leading the Panics through the first frame’s finale on the mic with a bawdy “Blackout Blues”.

Picking up right where they left off after a short set break, Dave Schools stepped up to the mic to introduce the second set with a promise: “Let’s stomp on this one, shall we?”

Getting down with urgency, Panic performed a blazing “Disco” instrumental before sliding right into a behemoth “Big Wooly Mammoth”. Refusing to relent, the band proceeded to weave through the first halves of “Chilly Water” and “Surprise Valley” before landing on a glorious interpretation of Winston Riley’s “Arleen” and exiting out the back halves of “Surprise Valley” and “Chilly Water”. In total, the thrilling segment clocked in at an uninterrupted 56 minutes in length.

Taking off into “Airplane”, the band kept partially true to its pattern of Beatles songs every other day by including a “Day Tripper” tease. Winding down the second set with the same intensity that ran rampant all evening, a stamped “Postcard”—JB updated the lyrics, opting for “the air here / we’re breathing deep / is miserable!”—was sealed and delivered before it morphed into the psychedelic evolutions of a closing “Conrad.”

While Sunday’s encore had come in the form of a lone song, JB, Schools, JoJo, Sunny, Duane, and Jimmy took the stage one last time on Monday night and settled in for the long haul. First, they honored their late mentor Col. Bruce Hampton with a rendition of the jazzy, absurdist shuffle, “Basically Frightened”. This marked the 4th time the band had ever played song, the last time being NOLAween 2019.

Widespread Panic – “Basically Frightened” (Col. Bruce Hampton) – 7/25/22

[Video: whereshaynes]

After teasing The Allman Brothers Band throughout the weekend with snippets of “Blue Sky” on Night 2 and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” on Night 4, Widespread Panic launched into a full performance of ABB’s “Mountain Jam” in all its glory. While the band has covered this 11 times in its generation-spanning history on the road, this was the first time that drummer Duane Trucks got to honor his late uncle Butch Trucks‘s legacy in the Beacon Theatre, a longstanding sanctuary of the ABB.

Widespread Panic – “Mountain Jam” (Allman Brothers Band) – 7/25/22

Showing no signs of stopping, JB grabbed his mandolin for a heart-wrenching “End of the Show”, a tribute to recently fallen friend and songwriter, Bloodkin’s Daniel Hutchens. Before the tears could be fully wiped from the audiences’ eyes, Panic continued onward with a hell-raising performance of Black Sabbath’s “Fairies Wear Boots”.

Still not done, Widespread Panic finished the 5-night Beacon run and 40-minute (!!!), 5-song (!!!) encore in the same way that they began, with “Heroes”. This time, it was David Bowie’s tune. By doing so, they tied a bow on the entire five nights and ten sets one massive sandwich that towers over Katz’s or even the best NYC bodega deli counter “hero.”

Widespread Panic – “Heroes” (David Bowie) – 7/25/22

The Monday encore, you could argue, was a salute to the grandeur of the Beacon residency in itself: five covers (Bruce, Brothers, Bloodkin, Black Sabbath, Bowie) to round out five shows. Beacon “B” heroes, just for five days…

…and that ladies and gentlemen is how the best touring rock and roll band continues to dazzle and impress. Even the most veteran of fans had to pick their jaws off the beer-soaked floors once the house lights came on. Bravo, boys. Personally, it was the best show that I’ve seen since Vegas’s Ladies Night back in 2017.

On deck is the rescheduled 2021 NYE run at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA on August 11th–13th. Widespread Panic will then honor its word for rescheduled shows in Napa Valley, CA on August 26th–28th. To close out the summer, the band returns to the outskirts of D.C. at the MGM Grand National Harbor on September 16th–18th.

For a full list of Widespread Panic’s tour schedule this year, including Mempho Fest, Halloween, and NYE dates, click here.

Until next time, it was a pleasure meeting so many great people this weekend. Safe travels home. Stay well, Goodpeople.

Revisit Live For Live Music‘s complete coverage of the 2022 Widespread Panic Beacon Theatre residency: Night 1 (7/21/22) | Night 2 (7/22/22) | Night 3 (7/23/22) | Night 4 (7/24/22) | Night 5 (7/25/22)

Setlist [via PanicStream]: Widespread Panic | Beacon Theatre | New York, NY | 7/25/22

Set One: Saint Ex > Hatfield, Pilgrims, This Part of Town, Thought Sausage, Honky Red, Tie Your Shoes > Blackout Blues (65 mins)

Set Two: Disco > Big Wooly Mammoth > Chilly Water > Surprise Valley > Arleen > Surprise Valley > Chilly Water, Airplane, Postcard, Conrad (82 mins)

Encore: Basically Frightened, Mountain Jam, End of the Show*, Fairies Wear Boots, Heroes (David Bowie) (40 mins)

Notes * w/ JB on mandolin
– ‘Spanish Moon’ tease during ‘Tie Your Shoes’
– ‘Day Tripper’ tease by JoJo after ‘Airplane’
– ‘Basically Frightened’ LTP 11/02/19 NOLA (67 shows)
– ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ LTP 10/27/18 Las Vegas (111 shows)
– ‘Heroes’ (David Bowie version) LTP 10/27/17 Las Vegas (147 shows)
[4th 5-song single encore; only 1 other was a multi-set show (11/19/88)]


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