Widespread Panic Rock into The New Year, Perform “Sandbox” For First Time Since Michael Houser’s Passing
Photo Credit: Josh Timmermans
Last night, Dec. 31, Widespread Panic rocked into 2023 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. The New Year’s Eve concert was a one for the books, as the band delivered choice bust outs including a rendition of Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With” for the first time since Jan. 3, 1987, ending a 3,084 show lapse. The Athens, Ga.-ensemble also worked in “Sandbox,” which was last performed on Oct. 28, 2001. Last night’s rendition represented their first run-through of the number since Michael Houser–the song’s writer–died in 2002.
The New Year’s Eve stand got underway with originals “Little Lilly,” “Walkin’ (For Your Love),” “Wondering,” and an ensuing “Nobody’s Loss.” The first frame of the night saw John Bell seated and acoustic as the night stretched to include covers of Bukka White’s “Fixin’ to Die,” brute.’s “Blight,” and a bust-out cover of Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross” performed for the first time since Aug. 25, 2019. For the final song for the night’s initial set, Widespread Panic delivered “Blackout Blues” off 1994’s Ain’t Life Grand.
For their second set, the group dove into a sequence of “One Arm Steve,” “Surprise Valley,” and “Rock,” followed by a subsequent return to “Surprise Valley.” Next on the docket was “Ribs and Whiskey,” flanked by covers of Murray McLauchlan, Howlin’ Wolf and BloodKin. Then, the band continued with a trio of self-written tunes, including “Greta,” “All Time Low,” and “Chilly Water.”
A high point of the night coincided with the start of the third frame. Widespread Panic busted out Still’s classic “Love The One You’re With” the cover was performed for the first time in 35 years. The previous track bled over into a selection of original material, “Ain’t Life Grand,” “Love Tractor,” “Big Wooly Mammoth,” “Disco,” “Second Skin,” and “Tie Your Shoes.” From there, they moved into a pair of covers consisting of J.J. Cale’s “Ride Me High” and Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
For the night’s encore, Widespread Panic worked in a take on brute.’s “Expiration Day,” followed by the final bust out of the night, “Sandbox,” which had not been strummed since 2001. The number represented the first time the group had performed the song since its writer, Houser, passed away in 2002, making the moment that much more meaningful for the band and fans. Finally, as the night ended, Widespread Panic delivered the final tune of their celebratory stand: “Porch Song.” Also of note: the band’s tour manager, Steve Lopez, delivered the midnight countdown, which was partnered with a brief and festive take on “Auld Lang Syne.”
Scroll down to view last night’s extensive setlist. After their Dec. 31 concert, Widespread Panic will take two weeks off the road before returning for their destination concert event, Panic en la Playa, which begins on Jan. 14 in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, Tenn.
Dec. 31, 2022
Set I: Little Lilly, Walkin’ (For Your Love), Wondering, Nobody’s Loss, Fixin’ To Die, Blight, Many Rivers to Cross+, Blackout Blues
Set II: One Arm Steve > Surprise Valley > Rock > Surprise Valley, Rubs and Whiskey, Honky Red, Tail Dragger, Trashy > Greta > All Time Low, Chilly Water
Set III: Love The One You’re With^ > Ain’t Life Grand, Love Tractor > Big Wooly Mammoth, Disco, Second Skin > Tie Your Shoes > Ride Me High > Rockin’ In The Free World
Enc.: Expiration Date, Sandbox, Porch Song
First set John Bell seated and acoustic
+ Bust out, last played on Aug. 25, 2019
^ Bust out, last played on Jan. 3, 1987
& Bust out, last played on Oct. 28, 2001
NYE countdown by Steve Lopez, followed by brief “Auld Lang Syne”
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