Crowd Wash

Widespread Panic Tuscaloosa Amphitheatre 10/03/2013

Photos  Tarver Shelton

Written by Charity Dees and Rex ThomsonCrowd Wash

 

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Widespread Panic returned to the Tuscaloosa Amphitheatre after nearly two years to the day, bassist Dave Schools welcoming the Alabama fans with the night”s mission statement, “Let”s Get Ugly!”  There”s a popular saying among music fans, “Never Miss A Sunday Show,” but true Panic fans believe that applies to any night of the week and packed the venue to the brim. Though they”ve played thousands of shows around the world, Panic”s pleasure being in front of their southern base that made them the juggernaut they are was plain to see this warm Thursday night. Looking to delight not just the fans in attendance but those listening on internet simulcasts around the world, Panic delivered a show with a fine blend of deep cuts, covers and heavy jam sessions.

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Opening the first set with “Holden Oversoul,” an appreciative crowd welcomed them with joyous reception. Jamming straight into a cover of the Grateful Dead”s “Cream Puff War” before dropping a “Wow!” moment on the crowd jamming back into a “Holden Oversoul” reprise the show got a very promising start. As the sun set and the skies darkened, fans were treated to a lovely early fall evening in Alabama, with stars shining down on a grateful Tuscaloosa crowd. The boys in the band seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the crowd, and the energy being generated on the stage was returned to them tenfold by the delighted listeners. Settling in, Panic took “Little Kin” straight into a rendition of Chuck Berry”s tune “Let It Rock,” with the audience giving wild cheers to the guitarist John Bell”s lyrical shout out to Mobile, Alabama.

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WSP Stage 1

“TIckle The Truth” gave way to the JoJo Herman penned “1 X 1,” giving Herman an opportunity to display his wizardry on the keys.  The deep, dark notes of “You Got Yours” led into a cover of David Byrne”s “City of Dreams” before seamlessly transitioning into Jerry Joseph”s “North” which had listeners twirling in circles in the aisles.  School”s thunderous bass riffs for “Imitation Leather Shoes” shook the Amphitheater, leaving fans with quickened pulses and ringing ears as the first set drew to a close.

WSP Stage Blue

After a short break, Panic retook the stage and continued the all out war on the senses of all in attendance started in the first set.  Counterpointing the aural assault, lighting director Paul Hoffman showed why he is considered one of the best in the business, utilizing hundreds of spotlights, color washes and a digital video screen to paint a mesmerizing backdrop for the sonic goodness being laid down.  The over-the-top visual display perfectly painted the stage to match the opening “Disco,” while “Second Skin” was complemented by a cycling of every color in the rainbow beaming down from the rafters.  Of course, none of this would be possible without the stellar sound and stage building provided by the hard-working road crew that makes all these memories possible, night after night.    Though these seemingly endless tours may take these dedicated musicians and support teams away from family and friends, the pay off of night after night of dazzled audiences makes it all worthwhile to them.

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With the Panic classic “Space Wrangler,” “Quarter Tank Of Gasoline” and “Bear”s Gone Fishing” the band seemed to seize control of the sea of smiling faces, unifying them all though the power of song.  Steering them into a “Drivin” Song>Tie Your Shoes>Drivin” Song” sandwich, the band then took a turn into “Breathing Slow,” followed by “Fishwater” before dipping a second time of the Byrne catalog for a cover Additionally to some five-star hotel, an 8k-chair amphitheater plus conference and exhibition facilities, the Occasions Square project will offer you a online best casino featuring 2k slots and 60 gaming tables (to begin). of The Talking Heads “Life During Wartime.”

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Drummer Todd Nance and percussionist Domingo Ortiz got a chance to take the wheel, blending together a rich variety of beats and textures, the pair displayed an almost telepathic ability to flow together built by countless hours of rocking stadiums and packed concert halls. As the audience went into a frenzied overdrive towards the climax of the drum solo, guitarist Jimmy Herring”s ripping notes led the full band back into “FIshwater” to a massive swelling cheer. Herring”s sweet tone cut through the wall of sound produced by Panic all night, at times part of the onslaught and at others an otherworldly sonic cry, slicing through beats and minds like a lazer. As the song and set concluded and the echoes of Herring”s last notes echoed through their heads, the stomping, cheering fans demanded “Mo Mo Mo!”

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With just a few minutes to catch their breath, the band acquiesced and returned to the stage for a three song encore, starting with “Old Joe,” before dropping a last cover for the evening, Muddy Water”s “Tail Dragger.”  Bell”s raspy voice has refined with age, mellowing into an unmistakable “Whiskey and Cigarettes” tone that suited the Waters tune to a T.  Closing the night with a second plea, Dave Schools entreated the crowd to not throw things at the band, a simple request that should be obvious, yet somehow never is to the less respectful element of the crowd.  Luckily, those thoughtless few were a tiny portion of an otherwise loving mass of humanity, all made one by their love of the music of Widespread Panic.  “Love Tractor” gave fans one last chance to dance, and the band one more opportunity to do what they have done for nearly thirty years…to make the world”s problems disappear in a blaze of southern style rock and roll that leaves listeners breathless, blissful and spent.

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