This latest release counts as volume two of Widespread Panic's homecoming April 2000 Classic Center Theatre shows in the band's hometown of Athens, Georgia. Special guests on this collection include R.E.M.'s Mike Mills, Alvin Scott, John Keane, Anne Richmond Boston, Daniel Hutchens and Eric Carter.
Disc one begins with Panic's muscular version of J.J. Cale's "Traveling Light". Dave Schools' thick bass lines commence "Machine". The late Michael Houser's guitar work on these shows really shines through on this release. "Barstools & Dreamers", featuring Alvin Scott, proves to be a formidable piece of music clocking in at over 11-minutes on this version.
John Keane lends his indelible expertise on "This Part of Town" and "Sleeping Man". One cannot quibble with the flawless quality of this recording. Sunny Ortiz's percussive storm introduces a tight and driving rendition of "Radio Child". The menacing "Imitation Leather Shoes" closes disc one, and it seems the band is just getting warmed up.
John Hermann's free-flowing piano cascades on "Disco" opens disc two. "Rebirtha" serves as a fine showcase of Panic's ability to swing, but with a rythmic foundation of drummer Todd Nance and bassist Dave Schools they make it sound easy. "Greta" energizes the crowd, just as the next song--"E on a G"--offers a mellow musical mood. Anne Boston Richmond sounds great singing on the laid back "You'll Be Fine".
"Big Wooly Mammoth" sounds like reckless rock & roll propelled by Hermann's musical direction. "Fishwater" travels to rare environs where the water is black, and the music breathes funky New Orleans humidity. Live in the Classic City II ends with two Bloodkin tunes--"Success Yourself" and "End of The Show". These two numbers really render this release a relic. To hear Michael Houser and Eric Carter playing guitars like a right and left hand just amazes and counts as one of the best versions I've ever heard Panic play. Daniel Hutchens sings the first verse and John Bell's soulful delivery of this dark song on the second verse coincides with Houser and Carter's guitars into incandescent electricity.
John Keane, Alvin Scott and Mike Mills join Hutchens & Carter on "End of The Show", and an Athens wall of sound descends like one glorious farewell to the evening...or the past. Widespread Panic never fails to deliver timeless soul, and Live in the Classic City II stands as emotive proof.