Well, well, well. I’m going to write this as I go, as best I can. I just got home for a brief rest after Portland and Spokane, and right now, I’m hoping very much I won’t have to modify the subject to “my four-show PNW tour”. They’ve just issued a blizzard warning for Calgary, where I’m supposed to fly out to tomorrow morn. Fingers crossed, but I can do nothing!
Stop one: Portlandia. C and I trained it down to P-town (heh heh heh) Friday morn. We got great seats (thank you, Ten Club!): Stone’s side, section 112, two rows up from the floor. A blessing, with a 100% unobstructed view: a rarity in the life of this five-foot-tall fan. Everyone’s been saying it, this whole tour, and this show made it perfectly clear what they’ve meant: Pearl Jam is ON. They have, in the words of @recently40, “this shit turned up to 11.” This show was so tight. No mistakes, no bullshit. It was serious rock. Stone was especially entertaining; I swear he spent half the night on his knees, when he wasn’t bobbling his head, dancing around, or generally being a jolly sort of guy. He would not be contained in a folding chair for the acoustic encore, no way. Jeff was spinning around, Mike was running laps, Matt was his usually rock, and Ed was genial, didn’t mess up a single word: they were all focused. And the set list? Awesome. No filler. I like most every Pearl Jam song, and obviously what I consider filler is somebody else’s favorite, but for me, every song on this setlist belonged where it was. Highlights: Pendulum (really, all the new songs – holy hell they play MYM so fast live), Given to Fly (which I’ve seen a ton but never fails to lift me up), You Are (which I haven’t seen since 2003), Rats, Last Exit, All Those Yesterdays (on my white whale list and every bit as lovely as I imagined it would be), Wasted Reprise, and, of course, RITFW with all the crazy guests. I spotted Carrie and Corin before the show started but they turned around before I could become a screaming fangirl and say hi. AND we got to sing Happy Birthday to Matt. So, Portlandia? Win. Here: All Those Yesterdays.
Stop two: Spokane. I’ve been speculating that this show was going to be special for a little while now, and holy mother. I still can’t even believe I got to be there for it. Of my as-of-now-show-count of 16, I think this has to be at the top. Whereas Portlandia was sort of serious (and seriously rocking, don’t get me wrong), this felt like a big giant party. The Portland crowd was into it, but this felt like a homecoming. Everyone was freaking out for the whole show: old songs, new songs. Everything. Great seats again (thank you again Ten Club!), section 116 on Mike’s side, the very first row off the floor. Unobstructed again, what a treat. So many highlights it’s hardly worth listing them, but I’ll try. No matter how many times I hear it, Release is always spine-tingling, goose-bumping, gorgeous perfect awesome. I really liked Lightning Bolt tonight, in a new way. Then it really picked up: Faithfull, Tremor Christ (C’s top hope for the tour, and definitely way up there on my list!), Getaway, Present Tense, Let the Records Play (love it live as much as I hoped I would), Push Me Pull Me (!), the whole first encore (are you kidding me? I Won’t Back Down, NAIS, Footsteps, DON’T GIMME NO LIP, Brain of J, Go….it just went on). And while the songs aren’t anything new, the Jeremy/Do the Evolution combination was absolutely killer: the pit was flying, the seats were elevating. It was something to behold. It’s why we go to show after show after show. Also: the dread-shaving episode? Oh god, it was so awesome. I love that guy. I love this band. Here: Tremor Christ (starts wobbly, then is pretty amazing).
Stop three: Calgary. Well! Despite the blizzard and arctic temperatures, we made it in one piece to Calgary. The drive to our hotel was scarier than the flight, honestly, and the walk to and from the arena wasn’t as life-threateningly cold as I was expecting. We got there in time for Mudhoney, once again, and it confirmed something for me: I dig Mudhoney, but I seem to like the stuff they play when Mark Arm isn’t wielding a guitar more than what they play when he is. And he seems to either play the guitar the whole set, or not. Portland: no guitar, lots of punky awesome. Spokane and Calgary? Guitar, and a little too grungey for me. How’s that, coming from someone at her third Pearl Jam show of the week? Anyway: Pearl Jam. This show was WAY better attended than I thought it would be: by the time PJ came on, it was as full as any other arena. Very impressive. Checking into our hotel, the receptionist joked that the only people who hadn’t cancelled their reservations were those coming for the show. We had great seats, again; maybe the best ones yet, section 108, row 4. Totally unobstructed. The first three songs of this set – Of the Girl, Hard to Imagine, and Nothingman – really got us geared up for an epic set. Which it didn’t really end up being. Don’t get me wrong – the show was great, and they played some songs from way up on my list: Red Mosquito, I Got Shit, Crazy Mary, and they played some more that I was surprised to hear (Sleight of Hand, in particular). But just because the setlist didn’t blow me away, doesn’t mean the show wasn’t great. I will never believe how fantastically great DTE is live, nor GTF. And Better Man/Save it For Later, both C and I agreed, was absolutely kickass tonight. Super strong night, if not as amazing as the previous two. I think Ed might have had a little cold, and I do too (MAYBE IT’S THE SAME ONE), so that probably put a damper on things a bit.
Stop four: Vancouver. It’s pretty crazy how much the people sitting around you can effect your experience. We had good seats, again, though a little higher up: section 118, row 15, about halfway back of the (packed) GA floor. But the people around us just weren’t that into it – they were Ticketmaster peeps rather than 10C. Which isn’t always and necessarily a bad thing, but in this case. Argh. Also: please don’t fucking smoke cigarettes at these shows, people. It’s disgusting, and worse, when security has to come get you to put your stupid toxins out, it’s distracting. No one wants their favorite song interrupted by you arguing with security about your cigarette, I promise. Ew. Anyway! Apart from that, the set was fantastic. The unexpected highlights weren’t totally weird and random things (like Push Me, Pull Me), but lots of things I haven’t heard in a long time: Breakerfall, God’s Dice, In Hiding, Thumbing My Way, Insignificance. Tags of awesome: Modern Girl on Not for You, a gorgeous It’s Ok on Daughter, and the best Save it For Later I can remember on Better Man (which was again incredibly kickass). Also, Oceans as the opener? Oooooooof. I’ll ALWAYS take that. This setlist was solid and it felt the most different of the four. And, oh man, Ed was LOVING it. He was just so into it, all night. It was clear. So Seattle, you better bring it!
Stop five: Seattle. Oh, Seattle, you brought it! You brought it! Our seats were fine (section 114, maybe halfway up) – not as awesome as the last four shows, but I could still see no problems. We were on Stone’s side, which was nice as we were on Mike’s the last three. The crowd was great – super into it, throughout the whole show. Into everything, too: new and old, classics and deep cuts. The main set wasn’t as epic as I anticipated – but I’m not complaining, we got Pilate, people, and my absolutely favorite song In My Tree – but we also just got some kickass rock. I have to say, I still don’t love Lightning Bolt (the song), but live? Oh man, it’s so great. And for the last show, I guess I was glad to hear the usual suspects: DTE, of course, and GTF, Elderly Woman, Corduroy. Garden was another treat – that is SO FUN to sing along with the whole crowd. And then there were the encores: Let Me Sleep (are you kidding me? I LOVE this!), Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns + Breath + SOLAT. The second encore, with the two Backspacer songs to kick it off was unexpected but awesome. And the long winding end was perfect. Sad and wild and joyful and messy. Here’s a gorgeous capture of that Let Me Sleep.
Oh, this band. This tour. This fanbase. This whole glorious community. I tell you what, to quote the ever lovely S-K, “My whole life, like a picture on a sunny day.”