Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals; Bob Weir - guitar, vocals; Keith Godchaux - keyboards; Donna Godchaux - vocals; Phil Lesh - bass, vocals; Bill Kreutzmann - drums
1972 has always been considered to be one of the greatest years in Grateful Dead history. The band was in an extremely prolific songwriting phase, with Garcia and Weir both releasing their first solo albums and, in the process, bringing a wealth of new material to the band. Their first European tour inspired many of the finest performances of the band's entire career. Relatively new member Keith Godchaux was now totally integrated into the band's sound, and often directly triggering Garcia into new realms of exploratory playing. Unfortunately, however, Pigpen's health was fading fast, and he became unable to tour toward the end of the year.
The Dead's set kicks off after the midnight countdown, with a rockin' Chuck Berry cover, "Around and Around." During the course of the first set, several new songs were performed, including future Dead classics such as "Jack Straw," "Tennessee Jed" and "Mexicali Blues." Their recent albums were represented with takes on "Candyman" (on which the feed was lost during the beginning), "Casey Jones" and a surprising performance of "Box Of Rain," with bassist Phil Lesh on lead vocals.
The audience was also treated to a rare full band performance of "Don't Ease Me In." The undeniable highlight of this first set is a monumental 18-minute take on Bob Weir's "Playing In The Band." Here the group's playing reaches stratospheric levels, with incendiary jamming from Garcia and transcendent performances from everyone; this is a truly distinctive version. The "Casey Jones" that closes the first set is fun, but weak in comparison to what has just preceded it. The band then takes a break and gears up for the second set.