Wandering around and seeing lots of old friends in the crowd, I headed up to the stage to get set up again to shoot in front of the rail. As I'd seen before, the light was bright enough for slower lenses, but was just dominated by a permeating blueness. And as a photographer, I prefer that to the redness any damn day. Opening up with From the Cradle, Panic seemed to tell the metro-Detroit crowd to ignore whatever the national media might say about Detroit as lead singer and frontman John Bell's (or JB) powerful southern, whiskey-tinged vocals summoned the crowd to life. Segueing into Old Neighborhood, Herring's slide sounded sweet as Jojo Herman's keys rang true indeed. This slid slowly into Thought Sausage, a dirty southern number with abrupt transitions and funk to the rafters.
Coming back for a second set, I realized that I needed to slow down a bit on the various whisky drinks that kept being handed to me as I needed to get home after the second set and do some work. But for the second set itself - well, it just kept on coming as amazing Panic song after amazing song came forth with only Angels on High being played off their last album. I remember hearing Disco > Diner and Jojo's keys on Disco and JB's vocals in Diner mixing sublimely with Makers Mark as my feet were incapable of staying put and my arms flailed about in a white boy freak out. Machine > Barstools was very nice, but the rest of the second set was just pretty incredible (and I don't get to see the band all that much). The soft gentle tones of Gimme transitioning into the heavy percussion opening beats of southern swampy Fishwater, itself moving into a massive drum solo, then drum and base waves rolled over the gyrating crowd before the rest of the band joined in for a super spacey jam of Space proportions and into the drunk and cathartic Proving Ground, into another jam and just as the crowd was drifting off into the void, the band rolled back into Fishwater. Ending the set with the Jerry Joseph cover Climb to Safety, it was certainly a huge night of Panic in Detroit - or Royal Oak in any case. The encore performance of Old Joe and Ribs and Whiskey showed that a Tuesday night before Thanksgiving, is a party night for any year.