Written by Bill Whiting
Widespread Panic’s return to PNC Pavilion in Cincinnati, Ohio one year later on October 16 gave Panic fans a riveting, surprise laden pearl of a concert. Beginning with a seven minute “North” that led into the explosive locomotions of “Love Tractor,” Widespread was firing on all cylinders, revved up and ready to take their folowers on a wild ride. Sunday night became a nice showcase for the always dependable bassist Dave Schools, and he delivered on thumping versions of “Sleepy Monkey” and “Jack.” John Bell engaged the Cincinnati audience with the spirited set ending run of “Travelin’ Man,” “You Should Be Glad,” and “Climb To Safety.” Set two began with the first shock, an epic seventeen minute waltz through “Diner,” and percussionist Domingo Ortiz colorfully shaded the rhythmic edges with drummer Todd Nance and Schools’ pounding bass lines. Then, Panic thwarted the twirlers in the aisles by taking a stroll down memory lane with a wistful take on “Just Kissed My Baby.” The blues took hold of PNC’s theater styled pavilion interiors with Widespread’s galvinizing acceleration into “Mercy,” and the darkly powerful “Vampire Blues.” The warm Sunday night became a little cooler by the time the ensemble summoned the composition, “Thin Air (Smells Like Mississippi).” Inspiring covers of WAR’s “Four Cornered Room” and Buffalo Springfield’s ” Mr. Soul ” found Panic improvising to the distortion filled solos of lead guitarist Jimmy Herring to end the set. John Bell thanked Cincinnati and Neil Young as he walked offstage to a loud standing ovation. Returning to encore with “Can’t Get High” and “None of Us Are Free,” Widespread Panic rocked out ferociously to celebrate their 25th anniversary, and gave the Cincinnati faithful a night to remember until the next time they come to town. Widespread Panic plays the Chicago Theatre on October 28 and 29, and celebrates Halloween at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom on October 31.