9/24/06 Boston Herald - Concert Review

09/22/06 Agganis Arena, Boston, MA
1: Tall Boy* > Papa Johnny Road* > Space Wrangler**, Time Zones*, Surprise Valley*, Chest Fever*, This Part Of Town*, From The Cradle*, Pigeons*

2: Chilly Water > Jack > Chilly Water, Rebirtha*, Pilgrims**, Rock, You Should Be Glad*, Greta, Fishwater*

E: Expiration Day**, Walkin' (For Your Love)*

* with John Keane on guitar
** with John Keane on pedal steel

Setlist by Everydayday Companion

Panic spreads fun-loving vibe through crowd
By Christopher John Treacy
Sunday, September 24, 2006

When Jerry Garcia died, a mammoth community of music lovers was left without a campground to call home, and like-minded jam bands experienced a surge of popularity that’s still thriving. In fact, a slew of cult-level bands were guaranteed an audience for as long as they cared to tour. Georgia’s Widespread Panic is one of them.
That’s not to imply WSP is some sort of nostalgia act or a covers outfit. Twenty years of recording gives the band a hearty vault of original material, and its set at Agganis Arena on Friday night pulled from all corners. But it’s the caravan mentality of Panic’s audience and the generous party spirit with which the band performs that create the traveling musical-circus feel the Dead pioneered. And so the Spreadhead hath sprung.

Over the course of two action-packed sets, WSP delivered a fusion of classic rock influences. And even after the early August departure of lead guitarist George McConnell, the late Michael Houser’s replacement, Panic sounds better than ever with Jimmy Herring, who’s previously toured with the Dead and Aquarian Rescue Unit.
Opening with “Tallboy” from 1997’s “Bombs & Butterflies” established a joyous groove that built ever higher. Frontman John Bell let loose his weathered, throaty howl with impressive flexibility. The dual drumming of Todd Nance and percussionist Domingo Ortiz created a thick rhythm section brimming with conga-laden complexity, further fortified by Dave Schools’ slap-happy bass. Herring was right at home, throwing down solo after solo, his fingers moving up and down the fret board at blinding speed.
The band reached back to 1988 for the swinging “Space Wrangler,” built the new “Time Zones” on a Latin riff reminiscent of early Santana and led the ecstatic crowd into the chunky boogie-woogie of “Surprise Valley,” with John “Jojo” Hermann hammering out a sinister organ blues. No less fun but somewhat harder rocking was a cover of the Band’s “Chest Fever.”
The second half began with the bad-assed riffs of “Chilly Water,” during which liquid repeatedly sprayed up from the bobbing mass and Bell’s howl became a guttural growl. The trippy “Jack” was entertaining but a little muddy, though things picked up with “Greta.” Touring member John Keane switched seamlessly between guitar and pedal steel.

A lengthy intermission made the natives restless; Agganis security had its hands full with Spreadheads and their no-holds-barred ways, but it was all in the spirit of fun. It’s hard to take issue with a scene built on music that exudes such warmth. There’s nothing cold or calculated going on with Widespread Panic, and it’s refreshing to see how the other half lives.