WIDESPREAD PANIC 'Live At Myrtle Beach' Sanctuary (2005)
Widespread Panic are a massive live draw in their native US and part of
the very popular ‘jam’ band scene in the US that includes other bands like
Blues Traveller and Phish. Here in the UK and Europe they would be lucky to
fill a medium sized venue as for some reason we just don’t take to this type
of music and/or it does not get much exposure.
As you’d expect the tracks take on new life and form in the live
environment with more soloing (check out the 23 minutes plus of ‘Papa’s
Home’). Vocalist John Bell has a drawling vocal style (sometimes he reminds
me of BOC’s Eric Bloom in his quieter moments) that suits the music well and
if you like guitar/piano jams underpinned by intricate percussion then give
‘Ain’t Life Grand’ and ‘Chilly Water’ a listen. There is a good, clear live
sound throughout the two-disc set.
If you have not heard any Widespread Panic then I would recommend
starting with ‘Don’t Tell The Band’ (for me the band’s finest hour studio
album wise) and then trying a live album like this. Sometimes you can tire
of the extended solos, whereas listening to the studio based tracks first
will give you a better start to the band’s music.