Dead & Company‘s third annual Playing In The Sand destination event officially began on Thursday at Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexico. The sextet’s first of three shows on the beach featured a setlist straight out of the late-1970s with just a few exceptions.
Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann as well as John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge and John Mayer came out of the gates in unusual fashion with “Not Fade Away.” Dead & Company left the song unfinished before moving on to a “Hell In A Bucket” featuring the roar of motorcycles worked into the sound mix. Mayer’s vocal stylings were on full display with versions of “Row Jimmy” and “Brown Eyed Women” that were split by a “Peggy-O” that saw Weir utilize an acoustic guitar.
The improvisational highlight of the opening frame was a stellar “Bird Song.” Dead & Company patiently worked over the Garcia/Hunter composition for 17 minutes and included plenty of full-band jamming within. Mayer led the band from a slow dirge at one point to a full rolling boil before the band concluded “Bird Song” and went on to end the set with a nasty 15-minute “Let It Grow.” Oteil was on fire throughout the end of the set and propelled the “Let It Grow” while Jeff and John wailed away.
Last night’s second set began with a rousing “Deal” filled with bluesy licks from Mayer. Next up was the beloved “Dark Star” and while the band struggled at points with the composed sections, Chimenti stole the show during the jam and led the sextet to interesting terrain far from typical “Dark Star” space. Dead & Company segued into “Estimated Prophet” and once again John Mayer unleashed one dirty riff after another as the group built to a huge climax before dropping into “Eyes Of The World.” Jeff Chimenti and John Mayer traded off melodies and smiles in impressive fashion ahead of the evening’s “Drums” segment. Kreutzmann and Hart were joined by Burbridge throughout the particularly high-energy “Drums.” Then, Mickey strummed “The Beam” to give a base for “Space.”
Bobby, Jeff, John and Oteil focused on a pretty chord sequence they came up with as a prelude to “The Wheel” when the drummers returned. “Space” may have only lasted five minutes, yet was a beautiful piece of music with little dissonance. As Dead & Company usually do, they worked a reggae jam within “The Wheel” as the song is one the band has truly put their own imprint on. The ballad position followed with Weir belting out “Standing On The Moon.” As expected, the crowd gave a huge reaction to the “Gulf Of Mexico” lyric. D&C then capped the set with a euphoric “Casey Jones.” For the encore, the sextet covered “The Weight” by The Band featuring Weir on vocals for the first verse, Mayer handling verse two, Oteil stepping into the spotlight for verse three and Chimenti getting a rare turn on lead vocals for the fourth verse. Bobby went falsetto in singing the final verse of “The Weight” to end the night.
Pro-Shot Videos (via nugs.tv)
Not Fade Away
Set One: Not Fade Away > Hell In A Bucket, Row Jimmy, Peggy-O, Brown Eyed Women, Bird Song, Let It Grow
Set Two: Deal, Dark Star > Estimated Prophet > Eyes Of The World > Drums/Space > The Wheel > Standing On The Moon, Casey Jones
Encore: The Weight