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Widespread Panic Celebrates 25 Years on New Year’s Eve

Widespread Panic celebrated New Year’s Eve with a three-set performance at Charlotte, NC’s Time Warner Arena. The marathon gig—which stretched from 9 PM until 2:15 AM—marked the first time Panic has played New Year’s Eve outside Georgia or Colorado. It was also Widespread Panic’s final electric, stateside show before an indefinite hiatus (the jam titans will both perform electric in Mexico and play a series of acoustic dates in early 2012).

As part of their 25th anniversary celebration, the band created a slideshow of fan and band photos that ran throughout the night in the venue’s lobby and bar areas. The group kicked things off with a high-energy “Chilly Water” that segued into an extended jam, “Imitation Leather Shoes” and “Mr. Soul.” After playing some selections off their 2010 release Dirty Side Down, Panic invited out Randall Bramblett and his Mega Blaster horns as well as band tour manager Steve Lopez for a tasty cover of War’s “Slippin’ Into Darkness.” The Mega Blaster horns remained onstage as the song transitioned into “Bust It Big” and The Band’s “Chest Fever,” the latter of which also featured longtime Panic producer—and onetime touring member—John Keane on guitar.

In the past, Widespread Panic has sometimes opened their New Year’s Eve shows with an acoustic set but last night the band semi-unplugged for their second set (though Jimmy Herring and Dave Schools remained plugged in). The performance included Panic’s first take on “Coach” since November 20, 2009 as well as an appearance by Bramblett on “L.A.” Halfway through the set, Keane returned to play pedal steel on “Degenerate,” “C. Brown,” “Blue Indian” and “Ain’t Life Grand.”

Shortly before Midnight, Lopez took the stage to lead a celebratory New Year’s countdown. The band then returned for a full 98-minute, electric performance. The set kicked off with the Mega Blasters onstage for “Tall Boy” and the first cover of Al Green’s “Love and Happiness” since October 13, 2007. The horn section emerged once again at the end of the set for a fitting “Up All Night,” a cover of Allen Toussaint’s “On Your Way Down” and version of “You Should Be Glad” that featured Keane on guitar.

As a bonus, the band offered an almost thirty-minute encore segment that moved from “Disco” into “Surprise Valley,” “Pilgrims,” the second portion of “Surprise Valley” and, finally, “Climb To Safety.” On a more somber note, the members of Panic nodded to two fallen friends during the show: Panic collaborator Vic Chesnutt and founding guitarist Michael Houser. Before “Degenerate,” a Chesnutt original the band debuted on Halloween, John Bell said, “God bless Vic Chesnutt,” and, at the end of their second set, the group dedicated “Ain’t Life Grand” to Houser.

Here’s a look at last night’s setlist via

12.31.2011, Time Warner Arena, Charlotte, NC

Set 1: Chilly Water > JAM > Imitation Leather Shoes > Mr Soul, Cotton Was King, Shut Up and Drive, Walkin’ (For Your Love), Saint Ex > Slippin’ Into Darkness (*^)> Bust It Big (*) > Chest Fever (*#)

Set 2: (Acoustic) Henry Parsons Died, Quarter Tank of Gasoline, Coach (^^), L.A.(**), Degenerate (#), C. Brown (##), Blue Indian (##), Ain’t Life Grand (%##) (41 mins)

Set 3: Countdown by S Lopez >>>> Tall Boy (*), Love and Happiness (*^^), Tail Dragger (*) , Space Wrangler > Papa’s Home > Funk JAM > Drumz > Papa’s Home, Machine > Barstools and Dreamers, Pigeons, Up All Night (*), On Your Way Down(*), You Should Be Glad (*#)

Encore: Disco > Surprise Valley > Pilgrims > Surprise Valley > Climb To Safety

(*) Mega Blasters
(^) Lopez on percussion
(#) John Keane on guitar
($) Acoustic Set
(^^) LTP 11.20.09
(**) W/ Randall Bramblett
(##) John Keane on pedal steel
(%) JB mandolin
(^^) LTP 10.13.07,

Additional reporting by David Camferdam


There are 20 comments associated with this post

Andrew Simmons January 1, 2012, 19:56:00

God bless Widespread Panic. Thank you for 25 years (and counting) of wonderful memories and excellent shows!!!

BoBo The Clown January 1, 2012, 20:11:01

Set II was not a stripped down acoustic set. J.B. was the only one playing an acoustic insturment. His Gibson Chet Atkins SST. Both Jimmy and Schools were plugged in playing their electrics.

elijah bennett January 1, 2012, 23:43:40

thank you to the bells for our tickets.i have never gave so many fist bumps,high fives and hugs in my 11yrs. awesomes fans that you have and they wanted me to dance with them I’m just not their yet.caught a red balloon at midnight.thanks so much and y’all have a thank you note hand written coming from me and my dad.happy new year.your fans are awesome . god bless your band and fans thank you. thank you thank you!!!!!! safe travels my new friends ,elijah

Peter Buttrill January 2, 2012, 08:36:25

Second worst show I’ve ever seen in over 14 years. W.T.Fuck!?

Phil January 2, 2012, 11:07:27

Peter…were you watching the cover band? Are you sure you were in Charlotte? It may not have been the setlist you were expecting…but I guess that happens on New Year…RIGHT? This year has been a wild run…possibly one of the best encores…ever?

danny marshall January 2, 2012, 12:40:29

the band was very very tight…mixed by the professional sound engineers/ a definite all time high!!!
until we meet again/thankyou and peace~~~

steve brienza January 2, 2012, 15:11:45

The show overall kicked ass…. your right Phil, that encore was banannas… The only issue one could have had was opening the second set with the so called acoustic set because the energy in the room was sqwuashed.. however it was a very intimate side of Panic that not every fan has had the chance to experience and I am glad i caught it.. BUT from midnight (why didnt they play during the count down ????or at least stay on stage) till 2:30am the place was on fire. On a side note, the people in Charlotte running that venue are horroble, they didnt let anyone in until about 830 and as a result MANY poeple missed the Chilly opener and some of Imitation… WEAK!!! That wouldnt have ever happened in NYC

Paul January 2, 2012, 15:37:40

I just wanted to say that show was my first widespread panic show but it was one of those shows when i look back 30 years from now telling my grandkids about this I can say I was there for one of the greatest experience in my life Sure there where flaws here and there but I am one of those people who goes for the movement experience instead of paying attention to every detail thanks to everyone I met and the experience i will never forget this and I hope I get one more new years in charlotte out of widespread in 2013 or 14 once again thanks to everyone who went along the ride with me

Jeff January 2, 2012, 21:12:28

Steve B must have been from a different Time Zone. Doors were open just before 7:30.

P January 3, 2012, 08:01:05

I love this band but for the first time ever I’ll say that after the mr. soul, it sounded like they were going through the motions. I have never been that bored at a panic show before. great new year, great people, cool city, bummer of a show.

Shred January 3, 2012, 08:15:23

couldn’t have been worse then the phish show I slept through on 12-30-11. Horrible.

B January 3, 2012, 09:40:02

P and Peter- you nailed it. Going to shows since 1992 I have seen my share of bummers. NYE usually delivers with at least high energy. 2nd set killed the mood (and the buzz) for many in the room. They didn’tgo out with a bang but a wimper. Only comparison was that year that they were Brute with Vic Chestnut. Yes the encore was long, but replace the second set with it. It was only 12 mins shorter than set 2 but had much more energy. Hope they dump most of the 2010 album when they return. Flat songs don’t suit them well. I’m not normally a hater, but I was disappointed.

Octavious January 3, 2012, 13:43:33

I agree with the other poster…the band was going thru the motions….they appeared uninspired and so was their playing…..this was a lazy panic show…they played it safe and when bands do that they lose the magic….These guys need a break…they hate each other and no chemistry

Will January 3, 2012, 14:51:24

I wish the band could have ended it in GA this NYE. I was at Phillips in 1999 and 2009 and those are some of the best shows ever! The band manager needs to remember who loves WSP the most, and that’s us in GA.

timmy January 3, 2012, 15:36:39

I can understand the critique, even though I wasn’t at NYE. Been to 30+ shows, going back to ’97. I do agree that Panic needs a break. Some time to separate and grow as individuals is always a good thing. This should do them some good. They also need some new material that doesn’t suck. “Dirty Side Down” and “Earth To America” had a few good songs, but otherwise, meh. “Free Somehow” was just garbage. That being said, I saw them 5 times in 2011 and all the shows were great. The Sunday show at Red Rocks was borderline epic, and top 3 all time Panic shows for me.

Craig Fender January 3, 2012, 20:51:43

Wow, what an incredible show… mind is still a bit fuzzy and I am pulling bits and pieces from the show out of my heads closet. This show is exactly why I have seen ‘the boys’ @ 200 times. I have had the best times of my life at these shows, what a set list, it was incredible! I look forward to new years with WSP again in a couple of years, lets hope!

Steve January 5, 2012, 16:40:24

I agree. Not a great show by any means. I’ve been to every NYE show since Macon ’95 minus the two CO shows and this was the worst. We showed up at the venue at 8:25 and by the time we made it in they were playin’ Chilly. Also, some of the folks at the beer lines sucked. I noticed 3 people at one register. One to pour the beer, one to take your $$ and the other one with their thumb up their ASS!! I bet I missed 2-3 songs while waiting in line for a drink. There were a few highlights during the show but I was a bit dissappointed. Let’s hope they regroup in 2012 and come back with a vengeance!!!!

ralph demised January 12, 2012, 17:14:18

most agree time off is needed for WSP but ill sure as can be will be waiting and wondering for the sickest rock roll band around!! god bless the whole WSP family thanks for beeiing you.

leo January 12, 2012, 19:16:49

It was my first Panic show in 8 years as I have lived in Costa Rica since 2003. Last show for me was Hampton Coliseum right after Houser passed away. I met George in Costa Rica on vacation he showed up to an open mic in Brasilito. My impression was they were great, but after reading mixed reviews I can see that this band has really had challenges since Housers gone. Jimmy Herring did a fantastic job in my opinion, as he always amazes me, Dead, Alpine Valley in 96, I think it was my first Herring show, scorching darkstar that night.. At any rate I loved the acoustic stuff, felt like old front porch stuff to me, maybe Im too old for these younger jamband fans, but hell, I had blast! Beer lines were terrible though.

Moondick Rules January 18, 2012, 18:53:32

my friends who have all seen them 100+ times said it was one of the worst shows they’ve seen. 4 of the 6 left before the 2nd set was over. Herring is light-years better than the rest of them. Let him go do his thing, he deserves to be surrounded by better musicians.

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