2002-07-27 The Greek - Berkeley, CA
By: Alan C.

s The Who. For me the exploding drummers of Judas Priest never changed the band, but Sabbath without Ozzie wasnt Sabbath.

So can you be Widespread Panic without Mikey? The crowd at the Greek last night would belie me, but I say no. To me if you take Mikey or John or Dave away, it ceases to be Panic. The songs may sound the same, the jams continue, but the sustain isnt sustained. You cant replace a founding member whos been in the band for 17 years. Maybe they want to continue, maybe Mikey wants to continue, maybe the fans want them to continue. I remember the words of one of the bands biggest influences when that band lost John Bonham, We cannot continue as we were. Id go to see any of them playing their own stuff or versions of WSP songs under a different name. But as WSP they simply are not.

I know this isnt the same situation. They tried to finish the tour. Mikey is alive, but not well. This isnt like losing the band member who chokes on his vomit. It is a weird vibe. Everyone is so happy. Most are probably quite high. But their isnt the frenzied dancing of the last Greek shows, it is a bit more subdued. I tried to like it, I really did. Dave was in full form, I had never seen Sonny so out-of-control, the new guy played well, but I hardly saw his foot move except to keep the beat.

I loved the way Mikey played. The insane sustain was his trademark. He cared about every note. Hed bend the string, and then bend it with the wah, and do it just a little differently with the next note, then put a little soul into the final note of that run by applying a little pressure to the guitar body with his strumming hand. The notes hung in the air behind the songs and gave them a sound no-one could duplicate exactly. He mastered the jam-crescendo like no other, building to one peak after another while the crowd was worked into a frenzy, and then it was just another false peak as he built ever higher. If he was really on fire hed drift into a....(cont. next page)