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Review and photos by Dave VaculaFrom the beautiful skyline of of Chi-town on one side of the stage and a moon soaked lakeshore on the other - Widespread Panic slid it into high gear from the get go. Talk about a soulful house and a soul filled house. Kind of like a journey into the heavens when you're truly feeling the creativity, sound, talent and energy of Panic. These southern rockers from Athens, Georgia can speak through their instruments and in many tongues. From their southern rock, blues, jazz, progressive hard rock influences which are naturally melded into their own unique sound. After the first three songs of the first set the audience was theirs. Trying to figure out how these guys are going to top the next. Then the answer was delivered with "Makes Sense to Me" and then right into the crowd favorite "Pigeons." The vocals and lyrics from singer/guitarist John Bell were deliciously southern and frayed while uttering the words "Remember how to fly in your dreams tonight." Bassist Dave Schools kept the foundation hard and tight throughout the entire set. Jimmy Herring put the fierce energy into overdrive. The rest of the band - keyboardist John "JoJo" Hermann, drummer Todd Nance, percussionist Domingo "Sunny" Ortiz completed the package in fine fashion. These guys were born to play together. Their talent bleeds through in their musicianship and writing.
On the fifth song of first set Derek Trucks from The Allman Brothers Band emerged onto the stage. Taking the guitar filled jams even higher on "Mercy" and "Rock," Trucks melded his pedigree beautifully with the band.
"Brown" was certainly another fan favorite along with the bodacious "Love Tractor" to finish the first set. "Weight of the World" and "I'm Not Alone" blew raunchy and sweet right out of the gates at the beginning of the second set. I see why Widespread Panic have the record for most sold out shows at Red Rocks in Colorado - over 33 times and counting. It truly is amazing and an honor to have experienced these artist/craftsmen at their workplace. "Proven Ground" forced it's swampy rhythms throughout the whole venue. Panic maintains a casual and mellow stage presence while rockin' the house with every song. Next up was special guest Warren Haynes from The Allman Brothers for final two songs of second set - "Me and the Devil" and "Last Dance." The soulful messages sent through the slide guitar of Haynes and Herring were sublime.
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