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Playing In The Sand, The Grand Moon Palace, Cancún, MX (1/18/20) Digital
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As a line from a classic song not by the Grateful Dead put it…
“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone…”
The truth of that great lyric (thanks, Joni!) was never more self-evident than in the very strange and challenging year of 2020, when a worldwide health crisis deprived us of so many things we may have previously taken for granted… one of them being the ability to do something especially integral to the life of the Grateful Dead community: gather together in public to celebrate our shared love of live music.
When several thousand lucky Dead Heads converged on the Yucatan Peninsula last January for the third iteration of Dead & Company’s popular winter ritual known as Playing In The Sand, none of us could have had any inkling that the band’s first shows of 2020 would also be their last. But just weeks later, the COVID-19 pandemic swept the United States with a terrible force, and it soon became apparent that the live music industry would take a massive hit, with club dates, concerts, festivals and all touring shut down indefinitely.
As of this writing, we’re still uncertain as to when live music will return, or what changes will occur in the way it’s presented. That makes the memory of Playing in The Sand 2020 all the more precious, and we’re happy to present this sonic memento of those three beautiful days in Cancun.
JANUARY 18, 2020
Having left Friday night in the able hands of guest artists Lettuce, Foundation Of Funk and Molly Tuttle, Dead & Company returned to the beach and the stage on Saturday and picked up right where they left off.
The first set begins with a trio of tunes guaranteed to get the dancers kicking up the sand – “Bertha,” “Good Lovin’” and “Shakedown Street” – then change the tone with the heartbreaking “High Time,” beautifully sung by Oteil Burbridge. Other standouts in the set include “Black Throated Wind,” “Sugaree” and, to finish the opening half, a Dead & Co. first: “Quinn The Eskimo (Mighty Quinn) – Bob Dylan’s classic from The Basement Tapes, that was also a hit for Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in 1968 and turned up with some frequency in the Grateful Dead’s repertoire from the mid-1980s until the end of the band’s career.
The second set makes a statement right off the bat with “Help On The Way” and “Slipknot!” before throwing the audience a nice changeup, choosing to jettison the customary “Franklin’s Tower” in favor of a deft segue into the unmistakable and rapturously received guitar intro to “St. Stephen,” followed by its Live/Dead successors, the “William Tell Bridge” and “The Eleven.” Something else unexpected happens next: a brief, unaccompanied bass solo by Oteil, which dovetails nicely into an appropriately tropical-sounding Drums sequence. A fetchingly abstract Space segment gives away to another surprise: a rare DeadCo excursion into the Miles Davis-inspired set of changes that came to be dubbed the “Spanish Jam.” The unpredictability continues with “New Speedway Boogie” in an atypical second-set placement, followed by “Stella Blue” and then, tying up that loose end to conclude the set, the “Franklin’s Tower” left out of the usual opening triptych. The encore of “One More Saturday Night” satisfyingly finishes off the evening – but not the weekend, with one more Sunday night to go.
- Track Listing
Bertha 10:20 Good Lovin' 8:05 Shakedown Street 14:20 High Time 9:17 Cold Rain And Snow 8:05 Black Throated Wind 8:09 Sugaree 12:18 Quinn The Eskimo (Mighty Quinn) 5:20 Help On The Way 5:28 Slipknot! 8:19 St. Stephen 14:06 William Tell Bridge 4:48 The Eleven 11:13 Drums 10:00 Space 6:08 Spanish Jam 2:19 New Speedway Boogie 9:30 Stella Blue 8:51 Slipknot! Outro 0:22 Franklin's Tower 10:24 One More Saturday Night 6:09