Widespread Panic returned to the stage at UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans for one last celebratory jubilee on Saturday night as the chilly temperatures were slowly beginning to rise. With nothing left to hide after their Andy Kaufman Halloween antics, Panic emptied their sleeves on the stage and revealed stacks of aces, once again proving to everyone why they are one the most formidable touring acts in the biz.
After bassist Dave Schools teased the now-well-known repeating lyrics “I Trusted You”, a nod to the chaos of their All Hallows Eve performance, Widespread Panic immediately engulfed themselves in Link Wray’s 1958 instrumental, “Rumble”, which they last played during 2017’s Hunter S. Thompson-themed Halloween show in Las Vegas. A bass-heavy segue morphed the melody into Tom Waits‘ “Goin’ Out West” featuring grisly, growling vocals by John Bell.
Keyboardist JoJo Hermann led another smoking transition next, as “Greta” emerged after a Professor Longhair-stylized segue. JoJo’s clavinet, Herring’s smoking guitar, and Schools’ howls transformed the dedicated fanbase into a “pack of rabid dogs” like the witch Circe in Homer’s The Odyssey.
An improvised jam descended into the watery depths of Jerry Joseph & Glenn Esparza’s “Climb to Safety” before JB led the band through a sanctified “Aunt Avis” that chilled to the bone. Herring’s notes remained suspended as JoJo’s organ and the percussionists hammered home the fiery introduction to “Junior”, a tune written by mixing several songs by Junior Kimbrough, who shared a label with JoJo Hermann at Fat Possum Records.
Bloodkin’s “Makes Sense to Me” emerged after yet another “I Trusted You” tease from Schools’ corner. After Danny Hutchens‘ dark take on social commentary, Widespread Panic invited Ivan Neville—of the Crescent City’s venerable musical Neville family—onstage to finish up the first set with added pizzazz. First, the septet dished out a surreal take on the old school Panic original “Sleepy Monkey” before moving on to execute a rendition of Dr. John’s New Orleans anthem, “I Walk on Guilded Splinters”. Though “Sleepy Monkey” appeared in this summer’s St. Augustine’s run, “Guilded” has been dormant since Panic’s Jazz Fest performance in early May. Maintaining the excitement, Widespread concluded the first set with a runaway train ride down Jerry Garcia’s early Grateful Dead classic “Cream Puff War” for a dramatic finish.
Upon returning for the second set, Widespread Panic aced two back-to-back originals as “Radio Child”, off ‘96’s Bombs and Butterflies electrified until “Thought Sausage”, off 2001’s Don’t Tell the Band, honored Mama’s Gumbo (“Use a little secret and stir it in the sauce!”) After the gumbo was ready and JB beckoned the audience to “Come’n Git It!”, JoJo’s piano introduced The Beatles’ “The Ballad of John and Yoko” for the first time since a summer show in Boston in 2015—a gap spanning 217 shows!
To follow, Widespread dove into a knockout interpretation of Murray McLauchlan’s “Honky Red”. Returning to their extensive catalog of originals after yet another “I Trusted You” tease, Widespread began the first of two sandwiches in this action-packed second set with the first half of “Driving Song”. The old-school tune from the band’s 1988 debut album, Space Wrangler, broke down into a “Run Like Hell” jam led by the diabolical mastermind Dave Schools’ pulsing rhythms. Guitarist Jimmy Herring showered notes like shooting stars from the tail of a comet before returning back into “Driving Song” with a dreamy “Breathing Slow” jam for a bonus treat.
A series of segues connected the badass ripper “Impossible” with a cover of Neil Young’s “Vampire Blues” to keep the uninterrupted music flowing. JB prompted a piano solo with the infamous call, “Go, JoJo, go!” as the keyboardist’s fingers danced across his upright. A lengthy “Pigeons” took a psychedelic flight around the city before WSP began building the second sandwich of the set with a rockin’ “Papa’s Home” encompassing a percussive duel between the drummers. After the second half of “Papa’s” called forth festive imagery, a short and sweet “Action Man” aggressively raced from post position to secure the purse as a longshot winner upsetting, Man-O’-War and closing the second set with a photo finish.
Upon return for the first set of encores, Widespread Panic performed a cosmic rendition of Col. Bruce Hampton’s “Basically Frightened” for the first time since the 2017 New Year’s Eve show at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. “Blue Indian” (off 1999’s Til ‘ the Medicine Takes) preceded “Postcard” (off ‘93’s Everyday) to round out the first encore set. Inspired by a postcard sent by fallen friend and fan, Thomas Guenther, the song describes the paradise found in Telluride, Colorado, and Schools took another chance to sprinkle in a disbelieving “I Trusted you!” to continue the Kaufman antics.
Futher adding more to the lengthy encore setlist, Widespread Panic added another encore to the setlist with another comical run through of Andy Kaufman’s “I Trusted You” which was being teased by Schools all night long (For more information about WSP’s Kaufman Halloween, head here). Dave Schools and John Bell took turns dishing out a rousing rap, repeating“I trusted you” a hundred or so times before walking off for a final time.
The audience stumbled out of UNO Lakefront Arena one last time to enjoy the countless after parties scattered around downtown New Orleans.
Widespread Panic will return to the stage for the last time this year at the Fox Theater for a New Year’s Eve run that will carry their legacy into 2020 (for a full list of tour dates, see here). Until then, stay well, goodpeople.
Below, check out a selection of fan-shot videos and peruse gallery of photos from the show below courtesy of photographer Jeffrey Dupuis.
Widespread Panic – “Rumble” [Link Wray cover] > “Goin’ Out West” [Tom Waits cover] – Pro-Shot – 11/2/19
[Video: Widespread Panic]
Widespread Panic w/ Ivan Neville – “I Walk on Guilded Splinters” [Dr. John cover] – 11/2/19
Widespread Panic – “Radio Child” [Pro-Shot] – 11/2/19
[Video: Widespread Panic]
Widespread Panic – “Postcard”/”I Trusted You” – 11/2/19
As always, you can stream a full audio recording of the show via PanicStream.
Setlist: Widespread Panic | UNO Lakefront Arena | New Orleans, LA | 11/2/19
Set One: Rumble > Goin’ Out West > Greta > Jam > Climb To Safety, Aunt Avis > Junior, Makes Sense To Me, Sleepy Monkey* > I Walk On Guilded Splinters* > Cream Puff War* (79 mins)
Set Two: Radio Child, Thought Sausage, The Ballad of John and Yoko, Honky Red, Driving Song > Run Like Hell Jam > Driving Song > Breathing Slow > Impossible > Vampire Blues, Pigeons, Papa’s Home > Drums > Papa’s Home, Action Man (91 mins)
Encore One: Basically Frightened, Blue Indian, Postcard (16 mins)
Encore Two: I Trusted You (5 mins)
* w/ Ivan Neville on keys
– ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’ LTP 6/17/15 Boston (217 shows)
– ‘Basically Frightened’ LTP 12/31/17 Atlanta (75 shows)
– All WSP originals for the 3-night run were from the Houser-era