Widespread Panic returned to the stage at Mud Island Amphitheatre last night only a few days after their annual trip to Red Rocks Amphitheatre. As to be expected for a show in the South, the Georgian boys played a dirty set full of swamp, grit, and flavor as the muddy Mississippi River rolled and tumbled behind the stage.
Unfortunately, a young fan went missing after jumping into the Mississippi River following last night’s show, and the local authorities are still searching for him (more details can be found at the end of the review).
To kick off the first set, the band played an aggressively thumpin’ “Henry Parsons Died” before annihilating a fiery “Junior.” Dave Schools pummeled his bass while providing support vocals and supplementing a hilarious “Who’s your daddy?” on “Junior”. The boys then dove into a slow and sexy version of The Meters’ “It Ain’t No Use” which they last played with George Porter Jr. at Panic en la Playa Siete in January. Everyone took turns ripping solos with an epic back and forth volley between JoJo Hermann and Jimmy Herring.
JoJo Hermann on keys led the segue into a stirring cover of the Talking Heads’ “Heaven” as John Bell crystallized the lyrics with his emotional swagger. Fueled up on Memphis soul food, the boys incinerated an intense jam connecting an uplifting “Airplane” into a triumphant cover of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” which hasn’t been played since the second night of Panic en la Playa Siete. A cut from their most recent album “Steven’s Cat” mellowed the tempo before Dave Schools led the charge on a devastating “Imitation Leather Shoes.” To close the set, dem boys aced a cover of Neil Young’s “Mr. Soul” with Jimmy Herring standout for his lightning guitar work.
To open the second set, Colin Butler on turntables (from Big Ass Truck) assisted the returning musicians to play a rippin’ “Dyin’ Man” as well as a cover of Bobby Rush and Calvin Carter’s “Bowlegged Woman.” John Bell laid down a mysteriously spicy rap during this “Bowlegged Woman” to the pleasure of the ravenous fans.
A sizzlin’ “Thought Sausage” from Don’t Tell the Band preceded a jaunty “Worry” with Dave Schools descending the music into the depths of madness. John Bell captivated throughout an emotionally wrought “Mercy” before a heavy jam emerged that eventually resulted in another cover of Neil Young’s “Vampire Blues”.
Widespread Panic – “Bowlegged Woman”
An intense musical sandwich began with the first verse of a rugged “Provin’ Ground” with John Bell igniting the audience with a fiery “Find out just how tall I am… by jumping in the middle of the river!” The percussionists, Duane Trucks and Sonny Ortiz, remained on stage to berate their drum kits before the musicians returned and executed an exhilarating “Saint Ex” from their album Dirty Side Down. The band segued into the back half of “Provin’ Ground” before ending the set with an always raucous rendition of the party-anthem “Tall Boy” off Bombs & Butterflies.
The rock n roll giants returned for a swingin’ cover of the Yardbird’s “Drinkin’ Muddy Water” which hasn’t been played since 2015. With the muddy Mississippi rollin’ in the background and the venue of Mud Island, this was an appropriate choice in encore. To end the first night of music, Panic tugged on heartstrings with a sentimentally sweet version of “Vacation.” The audience was tight and reciprocated the immense amount of energy that the band gave.
Widespread Panic – “Drinking Muddy Water”
It is with a heavy heart and deep sadness to report that, after the show, a teenager jumped the concrete wall and into the Mississippi River. As of this afternoon, the teenager, identified as Pace Taylor (described as white, 5’7’’, 170 lbs) is still missing. If you have any information as to his whereabouts, please contact the Memphis Police Department immediately. Prayers for his family as a search party continues their efforts.
Widespread Panic resumes their two-night run tonight at Mud Island. There is still plenty of southern soul left on the table. Look out for each other and be safe, friends, brothers, sisters.
Setlist: June 29 | Mud Island | Memphis, TN | June 29, 2018
Set One: Henry Parsons Died, Junior, It Ain’t No Use > Heaven, Airplane > A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Steven’s Cat, Imitation Leather Shoes, Mr Soul
Set Two: Dyin’ Man*, Bowlegged Woman*, Thought Sausage, Worry, Mercy > Jam > Vampire Blues > Proving Ground > Drums > Saint Ex > Proving Ground, Tall Boy
Encore: Drinking Muddy Water, Vacation
* w/ Colin Butler on turntables (Big Ass Truck)