Widespread Panic, Oak Mountain Ampitheater, Pelham, AL- 4/28
The weather was cloudy and overcast, but the temperature was fare. It seemed like the end of Widespread Panic as we knew it, the LAST show or so we thought. The crowd was a buzz as usual with everyone smiling. As we waited for what Widespread had in store for us. Finally, they blasted off with a huge "Let’s Get Down to Business", always a good sign for what is to come. Next, funk classic "Pusherman" into JB’s heartfelt "Diner". Then they jammed into J. J. Cale’s "Ride Me High" with John Keene on guitar. The juices were flowing with the song’s low-down, sexy feel. The band then played the opening licks of "Genesis", written by Jorma K with Keene now on pedal steel. The song begins "The time has come for us to pause….. And think of living as it was" very powerful words considering that Houser was dying. Then it was time for classic Panic jam vehicles "Holden Oversoul" and the crushing set one closer "Conrad". The first set left everyone feeling lucky to be alive and a part ! of this show.
The second set began with a bang as Schools belted out the baseline intro into a split "Chilly Water" that featured JoJo’s "Visiting Day". The house cooled off for a Blue Indian’. Houser began taking over and we were on board for his last licks. "Driving Song" into "Breathing Slow", Houser danced across the fret board. The train rolled on and Mother Nature rolled in with "No Sugar Tonight". The sky began to release sparse droplets as JB introduced Jerry Joseph and they slammed into Joseph’s "North". When the song ended the crowd was cheering uncontrollably. During, "Cortez the Killer" the storm grew fiercer over head as Joseph let the lyrics fly "I came dancing across the water" just as four sporadic lightning bolts crashed above the stage. The band was creating a storm on stage and a new Mother Nature was taking over in the sky as foretold earlier. The rain began to fall steadily till it stopped along with the song. Panic cruised though "Drums" and into a smooth "Walkin! ". Flashes of lightning illuminating the sky randomly and often during "Papa’s Home". The song built to its climax and Sunny energetically started whacking his sticks on the congas. At the same time the clouds began spouting out a downpour of water to the blissful delight of everyone. Then the jam came to a giant close, the rain did too. Barely a drop was falling as Panic closed the set with "Ain’t Life Grand’ with JB on mandolin. As the song picked up pace the rain droplets intensified, again, until the band was in full harmony and it was downpour once again. Not one person cared. We were reveling in the rain like children and it felt good.
At the end of the set we began to pass around candles and then lit them in honor of Houser’s fight with cancer. It was emotional to be a part of this wonderful outpouring of love. They began the encore with Cat Steven’s "Trouble" this ballad seemed tailored for the situation. A second encore of "Down" spoke to the situation once again saying " Break my pride my backbone is feeling strong", telling us to be strong. Finally "Postcard", singing "if your wonderin’ what I think of it all, just read the back of this postcard" and finally singing the last words of what we thought was the final line with Houser, "I don’t never, never wanna leave".
Rest in Peace Mikey, Dominic from Michigan