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Published: 2013/07/11
by Ray Bowden

Widespread Panic, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO- 6/29

Photo by Larry Hulst

Widespread Panic was greeted by a joyous audience at Red Rocks Thursday night that braved the 90-plus degree temperature to celebrate the band’s 2013 return to Colorado. Opening the first set with an evocative instrumental “A of D”, the band just got hotter as the blistering temperature finally began to cool.

The highlights of the hour-long first set were the band’s cover of blues great Willie Dixon’s “Weak Brain, Narrow Mind” — featuring chunky rhythm work by guitarist and lead singer John Bell, and Dave Schools’ loping bass line — “Picking up the Pieces” and a raucous set-closer of James Taylor’s “Knockin’ Around the Zoo.”

Guitarist Jimmy Herring expounded on the foundation of the band’s earlier songs left behind by the band’s beloved original lead guitarist, Michael Houser, filing the gaps between Bell’s thick rhythm chording and Todd Nance’s solid drumming with his fiery, eloquent, pentatonic-driven leads. Although their playing is fundamentally different, Herring speaks the same language as Houser, adding the same level of character and depth to the band’s percolating southern-fried stew.

Panic opened their second set with “Weight of the World” from their self-titled second release before launching into “Papa Johnny Road”, but the highlight of the set was the crowd-pleasing “Papa’s Home” > “Blue Indian” > “Drums” > “Papa Legba” > “Papa’s Home” sandwich. After short break, the band returned to encore with Neil Young’s “Don’t Be Denied” and the all-too-apt “Hope in Hopeless World.”

Some fans bolted for the parking lot during the encores, but that gave the rest of crowd more room to sing along to the chorus “Looking for hope in a hopeless world, trying to find love in these hateful times, trying to stay strong but my mind is weak, looking for hope in a hopeless world,” the perfect end to a terrific WSP concert.

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