Home Jambase Widespread Panic Busts Out Grateful Dead’s ‘Bird Song’ In Atlanta

Widespread Panic Busts Out Grateful Dead’s ‘Bird Song’ In Atlanta

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Widespread Panic wrapped up their rescheduled New Year’s run at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta on Saturday not far from where the band formed in Athens, Georgia. The eventful concert originally scheduled for New Year’s Eve saw Panic busting out the Grateful Dead’s “Bird Song” for the first time in 34 years, welcoming Col. Bruce Hampton and The Aquarium Rescue Unit‘s Matt Mundy on mandolin for the first time in nearly 30 years, debuting a Leonard Cohen song and more.

The first set — which saw guitarist John Bell seated and playing acoustic guitar — got underway with the classic “Space Wrangler.” One of late guitarist Michael Houser’s signature songs, “Airplane” followed (the Fox run began on the 20th anniversary of Houser’s death and saw WSP honoring the beloved co-founding member). “Jack” and “Gradle” came next.

Guitarist Jimmy Herring’s former Aquarium Rescue Unit — the Atlanta-formed band led by Panic mentor Col. Bruce Hampton — bandmate Matt Mundy then joined the group on mandolin for the first time since 1993 for four songs beginning on a cover of The Dillards’ “There Is A Time,” marking just the ninth time the band has played the song since its debut on Halloween 2015. The favorite “Pickin’ Up The Pieces” followed ahead of the Bukka White blues standard “Fixin’ To Die” a song closely related to Col. Bruce Hampton having been recorded by his former band Late Bronze Age as well as ARU. Panic included the tune on their 2012 live acoustic album Wood. Mundy’s guest spot and the first frame came to a close with Neil Young’s “Don’t Be Denied.”

WSP kicked off the second set with a four-song seamless sequence beginning with “Bust It Big” and followed by “Surprise Valley,” “Bear’s Gone Fishin’” and “Give.” The classic “Pilgrims” came next ahead of “Halloween Face,” which debuted on Halloween last year. Panic then performed Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain” for the first time in over a year which gave way to the rowdy “Chilly Water.”

The vintage “Contentment Blues” came next before keyboardist JoJo Hermann led the band through “Big Wooly Mammoth,” which launched a three-song set closing segment that also included “Gimme” and the massive bust out of “Bird Song.” Although a Grateful Dead live staple, “Bird Song” originally appears on Jerry Garcia’s 1972 debut solo album Garcia. “Bird Song” was one of WSP’s earliest covers, debuted in early 1986 not long after the band formed. Panic last played “Bird Song” on May 15, 1988 for a total gap of a 2,941, as per Panic Stream. “Pigeons” brought the second set toa a close.

Widespread Panic began the six-song encore with the debut of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On The Wire” from the late great singer-songwriter’s 1969 album, Songs From A Room. The band then paired up two Michael Houser-penned songs “Travelin’ Man” and “The Waker.” Bloodkin’s “Trashy,” a song from the group’s 2021 album released just a month before the band’s Danny Hutchens died in May 2021, followed. “Weight Of The World” then proceeded the final song of the evening, the Skip James-written, Cream-covered “I’m So Glad.”

Watch fan-shot video of the “Bird Song” and “Maggot Brain” bust outs along with the “Bird On A Wire” debut below:

https://www.instagram.com/p/ChP7v0QOqdQ/?hl=en

Setlist (via Panic Stream)

Set One: Space Wrangler, Airplane, Jack, Gradle, There Is A Time*, Pickin’ Up The Pieces*, Fixin’ To Die*, Don’t Be Denied*

Set Two: Bust It Big > Surprise Valley > Bear’s Gone Fishin’ > Give, Pilgrims, Halloween Face, Maggot Brain >
Chilly Water, Contentment Blues, Big Wooly Mammoth > Gimme > Bird Song, Pigeons

Encore: Bird On A Wire, Travelin’ Man > The Waker, Trashy, Weight of the World, I’m So Glad

Notes:

  • * w/ Matt Mundy on mandolin (of ARU – last sat in 7/25/93 Merriweather)
  • – ‘Maggot Brain’ LTP 8/08/21 Asheville (48 shows)
  • – ‘Bird Song’ LTP 5/15/88 Greenville (2,941 shows!!!)
  • – ‘Bird On A Wire’ FTP (Leonard Cohen)
  • – JB seated acoustic during 1st set
  • – 1st set without backdrop or light rig; stage lights only

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Source: JamBase.com