Dead & Company kicked off their Playing In The Sand destination festival at Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexico on Thursday with some good ol’ Grateful Dead. The first of three Dead & Company performances over the course of the even marked the band’s first live performance since their New Year’s Eve blowout at the Chase Center in San Francisco, CA.
The first set got off to a rocking start with “Not Fade Away” to welcome fans to their musical vacation. This segued right into “Hell In A Bucket”, where Bob Weir tried to keep that momentum going while the band still dusted off a few cobwebs. After those first two rockers, the band settled into the reggae-infused groove of “Row Jimmy” that has become a staple of Dead & Co’s translation of the classic Dead song.
Weir then picked up an acoustic guitar and busted into a noticeably faster rendition of “Peggy-O” to kept the momentum going. The band then moved through a couple of classics in the form of “Brown-Eyed Women” and “Ramble On Rose” before digging into a deep, 17-minute jam on “Bird Song”. As they wrapped up that number, just about an hour after taking the stage, the band decided to give the fans one more tune, “Let It Grow”, to wrap up the first set of the weekend.
The second set saw an arrangement that should seem familiar to anybody in attendance at Dead & Company’s show June 28th, 2019 at PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte, NC, as the four-song stretch that proceeded “Drums” at that show was identical to Thursday night’s performance.
The set kicked off with “Deal” and didn’t look back until darn near the end of the set. Mayer’s blues-infused licks in “Deal” segued right into the beloved “Dark Star”, which continued to see the band shake off some of the dust from a couple weeks on break. “Dark Star” featured some interesting twists and turns to separate it from previous versions, but it was keyboardist Jeff Chimenti who was responsible for navigating the group to these unknown terrains.
Foregoing the second verse of “Dark Star” (which promises to reappear later in the weekend), the segues continued as the band grooved right into the distinct rhythm of “Estimated Prophet”, the perfect beach song, which built and built into a climax that took the band straight into “Eyes Of The World”. “Eyes” saw guitarist John Mayer and Chimenti retain control of the stage as they traded licks back and forth before segueing into the “Drums” portion of the evening, which saw drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart take over the floor. After the eternal pairing of “Drums” and “Space”, the rest of the group got back to business and seamlessly flowed into “The Wheel”. The band closed out the show with straightforward renditions of “Standing On The Moon” and “Casey Jones”.
Dead & Company returned to the stage to encore with The Band‘s “The Weight”, where Weir closed out the song with his falsetto verse. Fans headed back to the resort with songs in their heart, ready for tomorrow’s day of music featuring Molly Tuttle, Foundation Of Funk, Lettuce, and the first of two late-night sets from Goose.
Dead & Company will be live streaming all of their Playing In The Sand performances via nugs.tv. Check out the first and second set openers below.
Dead & Company – “Not Fade Away” [Pro-Sho] – 1/16/20
[Video: Dead & Company]
Dead & Company – “Deal” [Pro-Shot] – 1/16/20
[Video: Dead & Company]
Setlist: Dead & Company | Playing In The Sand | Moon Palace | Cancun, Mexico | 1/16/20
Set One: Not Fade Away (The Crickets cover) > Hell In A Bucket, Row Jimmy, Peggy-O , Brown-Eyed Women, Ramble On Rose, Bird Song > Let It Grow
Set Two: Deal > Dark Star (verse 1) > Estimated Prophet > Eyes Of The World > Drums > Space > The Wheel > Standing On The Moon, Casey Jones
Encore: The Weight (The Band cover)
 Bob Weir on acoustic guitar