December 31, 2013
The banner was updated: Â Widespread Panic â€“ 20 consecutive sold out shows.Â No one quite really knows what defines â€œsold out,â€ but the banner hangs in the rafters of Philips Arena nonetheless. And, as 2013 turned into 2014, this New Years Eve added that 20th notch with a bang.
In typical fashion, the band played three sets, the first of which was acoustic*. The asterisk is necessary, since it really signifies that John Bell performed seated with an acoustic guitar. The first set opened with a very special treat, a trio of Â Neil Young covers from the album Time Fades Away. The band opened with “Journey Through the Past;” even those not familiar with the song could not mistake it as a Neil Young cover, as JB has a beautiful way of covering his songs. Next up was “Donâ€™t Be Denied,” always a treat and always a crowd favorite.
When they moved into “Time Fades Away,” it left a lot of people wondering if it would be a full set of Neil. However, those hopes were short lived with the arrival of “And It Stoned Me.”
The second set brought increasing energy opening with a fun “Holden Oversoul > Who Do You Belong To,” and “You Got Yours” will forever be special, if not for the Mikey aspect alone.
As the New Year approached, Steve Lopez counted it down, fireworks exploded, confetti dropped, champagne was toasted, and “Auld Lang Syne” played over the PA. The energy escalated from there with Kool and the Gangâ€™s version of “Celebration,” with the crowd singing along.
The band came back in, and the third set started with something that fans have talked about for years. The opening notes from the Megablaster horns were unmistakable, and from the opening lyrics of “Burning Down the House,” the crowd was in full rage mode. The excitement was so high that most seemed to not care that the song’s execution was far from perfect. The vocal range of that song is hard to pull off anyway, but the tempo was a bit too fast and there was not a lot of coherence amongst the band and added horns. However, that was not really the point â€“ they finally played “Burning Down the House!”
The next cover of “Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)” was played much better and was a very nice segue to keep the energy high while sticking to the party theme of the New Year. The rest of the set played out with “classic new” and “classic classic” Widespread Panic, with a well placed and well played cover of “Spill the Wine.”
They ended the show with “Ain’t Life Grand,” the song that was the standard first song of the New Year for many years’ past, and as the house lights came on, most did believe that life was grand.
Set I: Journey Through The Past^, Don’t Be Denied, Time Fades Away^, And It Stoned Me, Expiration Day, Pickin’ Up The Pieces*, Blue Indian, Climb To Safety
Set II: Holden Oversoul, Who Do You Belong To?, You Got Yours, Papa’s Home, Old Neighborhood**, Angels On High**, Devil In Disguise**, Tail Dragger**
Set III: Burning Down The House**^, Come On**^, Bust It Big**, Jack ~> Chilly Water ~> Surprise Valley, Pilgrims, Surprise Valley***, Spill The Wine****, You Should Be Glad**, Love Tractor
Encore: Stop Breakin’ Down Blues, Ain’t Life Grand
* w/ Randall Bramblett on sax
** w/ the Megablasters on horns
*** w/ the Megablasters on horns & Paul D’augustino on keys
**** w/ the Megablasters on horns & Paul D’augustino on keys & Madison Smith, Eric Bice, John Switzer on percussion
^ First time played
Click the thumbnails to view more photos, courtesy photographer Michael Saba