Widespread Panic at Red Rocks Amphitheatre 6-27-13 (photos, review)By Candace Horgan | June 28th, 2013 | 12 comments
I first saw Widespread Panic play Red Rocks in 1994, when the Georgia sextet opened Blues Traveler’s annual July 4 show. Over the years, I’ve seen many memorable concerts by the band at the famed venue, which Panic holds the sellout record for (it will be up to 42 after Sunday). However, Thursday night’s show, the first of a four-night run at Red Rocks, was not one of them.
“Comfortable” is one adjective that might be applied to the two sets the band played. At times, “somnambulant” would have been another. The band quickly found a mild groove and rarely strayed from it. In fact, the first four songs of the second set felt like they were played at the exact same tempo, and then instead of picking up the pace from there, they went even slower. The vibe from the stage felt like “We’re here, it’s Thursday, we’re going to be mellow and hang out with 9,400 of our friends and use this show as a warm-up to get the rust off.”
In fact, both the first set and the second set felt very similar after four songs had been played. There were instrumentals (“A of D” in the first set, “Party at Your Mama’s House” in the second), long, rambling jams between songs (between “Better Off” and “Weak Brain/Narrow Mind” in the first, between “Party at Your Mama’s House” and “Ribs and Whisky” in the second,” and even what always felt like filler songs from the band’s 1999 release “Til the Medicine Takes” (“Bear’s Gone Fishin'” in the first set, “Blue Indian” in the second).
There’s also something about lead guitarist Jimmy Herring’s playing that clashes with the mellow vibe the band projected. Herring’s guitar tones are piercing, bordering on shrill at times. During the quieter, slower parts of the jam on “Party at Your Mama’s House,” Herring’s playing overwhelmed the mood of the song. When Herring lays back in the pocket, as on “Walkin'” during the first set, he meshes much better than when he goes on screaming, metal-esque solos, as he did on “Papa’s Home.”
There were some musical highlights from the show however. The first set closing cover of James Taylor’s “Knocking ‘Round the Zoo” had a fun, mischievous feel to it, with the dirty rock and roll grit that Panic at its best can bring. “Rock” built well from a slow groove to a rocking jam to end it.
Ultimately though, this show was a disappointment, and by the time the drum solo came in the second set, I’d had enough. It’s the first time I can ever remember leaving a Panic show early. Here’s hoping they pick it up later this weekend.
A of D -> Rock, Better Off -> Weak Brain/Narrow Mind, Dyin’ Man, Bear’s Gone Fishin’, Walkin’ (For Your Love), Pickin’ Up The Pieces, You’ll Be Fine, Knocking ‘Round The Zoo
Weight of the World, Papa Johnny Road -> Party At Your Mama’s House -> Ribs and Whiskey, Papa’s Home -> Blue Indian -> Drums -> Papa Legba -> Papa’s Home -> Sewing Machine, Red Hot Mama, E: Don’t Be Denied, Hope in a Hopeless World