Done Somebody Wrong
Aint Wastin’ Time No More!
Woman Across the River!
Elizabeth Reed (w/Jimmy Herring)
E: Southbound (w/Jimmy and Jojo Hermann)
In deference to my date, who doubles as my wife, we didn’t watch Widespread Panic’s set, although those who did were liberally treated to Allmans sit-ins; we heard the unmistakable wail of Derek’s slide as we entered the amphitheater.
For me, the narrative context of this show was pretty strong—the angel and the devil, Derek’s light and Warren’s dark, pushing and pulling against each other, informing the show’s highlight numbers in stark and vivid color. Sure, there is some element of that dynamic in every gig—it is a defining dynamic of the band, and has been since Duane’s devil and Dickey’s angel. And maybe it was just me. But I thought the whole show was writ along that storyline in especially stark contrast, driving the energy throughout.
After an earthbound “Done Somebody Wrong,” the band slips into a nice, spooky “Hot ‘Lanta.” Then “Aint Wastin’ Time No More” comes in like a cool breeze, my wife observing that the opening piano part reminds her of “Peanuts.” Derek takes us on a journey, first bubbly, then molten, then he goes all heady, taking you inside… then to a climactic, joyous reprise. Warren responds, laying down a layer of scorch, less colorful…
Warren takes the reins for “Woman Across the River;” Derek enters with a deft touch, Warren draws some devil out of him. Then Warren steps up, starts at the very bottom, the black abyss, the void from whence the blues emerges… he goes right to the comfort food gutbucket blooz, playing around with the temptation and joy, almost taunting Derek with the happy blues.
Derek does not shy away. He yins all over Warren’s yang, then the two of them converge, acquiesce into a double helix of fire, and dash to a frenetic climax.
“Midnight Rider” is up next, a palate cleanser after the two preceding tunes and a sop to the once-a-year fans like the loud, drunk chick in front of me who spends the show alternately screaming “Whipping Post!” and “Play the old stuff!”
Out of “Rider,” the band eases into the loping clip clop that I know will back-door its way into “Rocking Horse.” Once it does, Warren begins with some exploration over a heavy drum section bottom, progressing quickly until t sounds like he is shoveling hot coals into the mouth of hell. Then the break, into the part of the piece I now think of as “Derek’s Tune,” and Derek goes major scale, parts the clouds, and lo! There is light. Derek and Oteil take a chipper little jaunt, Warren engages Derek in a duel, pulls him back into the song, Derek goes all the way up the neck, the band falling in behind the guitarists and slamming back into the dark mystic “Rocking Horse” melody to the close.
“Statesboro Blues” lets you catch your mind, a nice familiar dose of the bumpa dumpas… then the band whips up some blue, smoky space, the kind that usually precedes a fall into “Liz Reed,” but instead they kick into “Revival.” Out of the structured part of the song, Derek pulls a sort of aimless jam into a questioning, reflective space, then Warren sprays flurries from high up, avoiding the obvious notes, working up and back to the “love is everywhere” refrain.
“Stormy Monday” is up next, slowing things down. A nice faithful reading, and strong vocals from Gregg. Then Jimmy Herring from Widespread panic joins for “Elizabeth Reed”… droplets of music cascade down, mingling with droplets of rain as the heavens begin to open up. Unfortunately, on the front end of the song the band is fighting the weather, as large portions of the crowd stream out searching for cover while the downpour intensifies… they’ve been chased by rain this tour… but it is a summer shower, over quickly, and as the rain recedes the band emerges behind a frantic Warren chase, then he tosses the ball to Greg who peels off his part, then Derek goes so high up the neck he runs out of frets. The band races through the music to the end of the theme, and Oteil steps forward for a solo over drums (I prefer him over linguini…) then gives way to a damp, dark blue drum solo that he eventually joins, as waves of percussion ripple out from four men into the night… it’s a longish drum interlude, the kind that floats you away if you’re ready to go, and hat goes especially well with a cool breeze off the water… then Derek and Jimmy intertwine together, leading the band to a close that comes all too soon.
Jimmy and Jojo Hermann from Panic join in for the encore, which of course is “Southbound.” Then off into the soft damp night, glowing, energized.