Pearl Jam

The last decade has probably had the most impact on my life (ages 22-32), especially in terms of movies and music. And for the last ten years, my two favorite bands have consistently been The Dave Matthews Band and Pearl Jam (although I have liked the latter since high school). Now, that has changed a bit the last year or two, but the fact remains that those two are still very near the top. I have seen DMB 5 times in concert, and followed every disc they have ever put out (including most live ones). I can make similar statements about Pearl Jam…the only exception being that I have only been able to see them in concert one time – in 2000 with Deacon James. That was a fantastic concert: it was a benefit show, it was the last stop on their world tour, it was in Seattle (their hometown), and it featured a surprise opening band – The Red Hot Chili Peppers. In fact, of all the concerts I’ve seen (quite a few), it would rank 2nd on my list, only behind U2. But since then, I haven’t had much of a chance to see them again…until this year. When I found out they would be coming here (a mere 15 minute drive from my house), I jumped at the chance. So Lacey and I, along with Joel and his girlfriend Traci, have been making plans for about the last month to see the concert.

All week, they had been calling for major storms to come through Friday night, followed by a massive cold front. We were pretty worried, and it started to affect our plans. It was a beautiful week, and Friday dawned the same – warm, sunny, and nice. Then, the storms started to blow in (of course). Lacey and I made plans to get there early, to save seats in the lawn (general admission, behind the pavilion reserved seats), and were first in line. It didn’t really rain on us at all, and we got in when the gates opened, and had great “seats”. Then the weather worsened yet again. We were informed that due to lightning in the area, the entire lawn would have to clear, and that no seats would be reserved…it would be a total madhouse when they let us back in. Again, we didn’t get much rain (little bursts but nothing too bad), and they finally let us back in. We were able to run back in, and get pretty similar seats to what we had, though Joel and Traci had trouble getting in, and we had to fight some people off 🙂 Anyway, the opening act was Band of Horses, who Lacey and I have started to get into the last month or so (they’ve had some songs on Chuck, and have a good sound). AS SOON as they took the stage, it started to POUR down rain…and of course Joel and Traci had our ponchos and weren’t there yet. Fortunately, for all the prediction of constant storms with lightning and rain, it stopped after about a minute, and we got NO MORE rain the entire night! We were very fortunate.

The concert had been delayed, but the rain had ended, and it was still nice and warm. Joel and Traci got there, and we had pretty decent seats. We were totally primed for PJ. When they finally came out, it was on. And I can honestly say that this incredible concert has usurped the previous PJ show that I caught all those years ago. They were AMAZING. From the first note to the last note, they rocked HARD. I don’t know if they were trying to make up for being delayed, or if they were happy that this was their biggest crowd and first outdoor venue of this year’s tour (other than the NO jazz fest, but that was a bunch of bands and they didn’t quite do a full set), or if they are playing killer setlists every night, but it was a fantastic group of songs. They did a bunch of stuff for purists like myself, they pulled out the hits for the casual crowd, and even did some rarities. Even Lacey, who is pretty blase about them, said afterward that it was an incredible show…even better than Coldplay, who she LOVES, and who put on a GREAT show. Anyway, we had an absolute blast, and I was completely exhausted afterward from singing at the top of my lungs with the rest of the crowd, jumping, shouting, and cheering my butt off. Eddie was funny at the right times, Mike was incredible as usual, and the rest of the band just plain rocked. What a show. I’ll finish with the setlist, and the album each song is from, along with a few of my comments. Enjoy.

1.Release (Ten) – This is the last song off their first album, and is a GREAT song to start with. It’s a little slower, but it builds tension like crazy, and most true PJ fans know it well. I was HYPED.
2.Last Exit (Vitalogy) – It’s their pattern to start with a slower tune, then rock your socks off. Mission accomplished. I was jumping around like a teenager.
3.Got Some (Backspacer) – The first new one of the night, and a good choice. It followed the breakneck pace of Last Exit well.
4.Why Go (Ten) – Another fast one, from their first album, this wasn’t a radio hit, but is a GREAT song, and most long-time PJ fans know it.
5.In My Tree (No Code) – This is from their “experimental album”, and is rarely played live. It’s got some crazy time signatures, and a great drum part. Lacey really appreciated it, despite not knowing it. A real treat to hear it live.
6.Elderly Woman Behind The Counter in a Small Town (Vs.) – The first true “sing-a-long” tune for the crowd. Definitely a highlight from the concert’s first half.
7.Unthought Known (Backspacer) – Another new one, and a favorite of mine from the new album.
8.Even Flow (Ten) – This is one of their most-played songs, and biggest hits. In all the times I’ve seen them live on TV, in person, heard their live discs, etc., I have NEVER HEARD Mike McCready (a very underrated, but UNBELIEVABLE guitarist) have a solo this long. I wish I had timed it, I swear it was 5-6 minutes long, and he was absolutely SHREDDING. Probably the best guitar solo I have EVER heard. Incredible….I just can’t say enough about it for you to understand how amazing it was.
9.Supersonic (Backspacer) – Another new one, I was still basking in the glow of Even Flow (didn’t mean that to rhyme).
10.Down (B-Side) – Another rarity, the die-hard fans know it, but not many more. Loved it.
11.Daughter (Vs.) – Maybe Lacey’s favorite PJ song. It was fun for her, and me. They also did a snippet from another song off Vs., which was nice.
12.Goin’ Back to Indiana (Jackson 5 Cover) – Very cool, had Eddie soloing on acoustic. A nice treat for the Indiana crowd, whom he referenced over and over…he had a Colts cap on at the end 🙂
13.Rats (Vs.) – Another VERY rare find to hear them do this live. I love it when they do that sort of thing, and I don’t care if the casual fan doesn’t. Hahaha.
14.Wishlist (Yield) – I have a lot of great memories with this song, and it did not disappoint.
15.Insignificance (Binaural) – They seem to like playing this one live. I’m not a huge fan of the album version, but live it does come across great.
16.Force of Nature (Backspacer) – Another new one…it’s pretty decent.
17.Jeremy (Ten) – This brought the crowd back in a big way. Absolutely Killed.
18.The Fixer (Backspacer) – This was the first hit off their new album, so most people knew it. A fun one.

Encore #1:
19.Just Breathe (Backspacer) – Their most recent hit from the new album. It was very low key on acoustic, and was Excellent…this is my favorite tune from the new one.
20.Off He Goes (No Code) – This is one of my top 5 PJ songs, and I was THRILLED to hear it live. A DEFINITE highlight for me.
21.Given to Fly (Yield) – Another one that is better live, this brought the tempo/volume back up, and got me going a little more crazy again.
22.Lukin (No Code) – Their shortest song, it’s speed rock, and absolutely blew the place up.
23.Better Man (Vitalogy) – Eddie had let us sing in bits and pieces throughout the show (Daughter, etc.), but here, he let the CROWD sing the ENTIRE FIRST VERSE AND CHORUS. It was awesome seeing 25,000 people who knew EVERY word. Sends chills down my spine just typing this. My 2nd favorite PJ song…this was special.
24.Do The Evolution (Yield) – Of their hardcore rockers, this is one of my favorites. Eddie was in rare form, screaming and singing alternatively. Rocked out with a vengeance.

Encore #2:
25.Garden (Ten) – I don’t know if I’ve ever seen them do BOTH Garden and Release from their first album. I LOVE this song, and was jacked up to get to hear it, along with Release.
26.Whipping (Vitalogy) – This has a GREAT riff/hook, and I’ve always loved it. A bit of a lesser known song by most, it was great.
27.Alive (Ten) – BROUGHT.THE.HOUSE.DOWN. This is my favorite PJ song, and the crowd was in an absolute frenzy. I can’t even explain how pumped I was during this song; the solo, and the chorus were on fire, and it was definitely THE highlight of the show for me.
28.Baba O’Riley (The Who cover) – Traci commented that they could have played ANYTHING after Alive, and the crowd would have eaten it up. She was right, but the fact that it was THIS song by The Who (which they do cover often), LIT US UP. I swear, it was like McCready’s guitar was going to burst into flames and torch the place. Eddie probably jumped off amps 6 or 7 times during the song, and the crowd was loving it. What a moment.
29.Yellow Ledbetter (B-side) – They typically close with this, and it did not disappoint anyone in the house. Mike’s final solo included the entire Star Spangled Banner, done Hendrix-style. Wow. What a concert. Whether you had only followed the hits, or were there with your significant other to support them, or have been a fan for 20 years (like me), this show was for you. They are the consummate performers, and have fine-tuned it like crazy over the years. Just amazing.

And on that note, I sign off (finally).

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