Category Archives: i was there

ANGEL and a bunch of other awesome, Fenway night two, 2016

Fenway night one was fucking awesome. And yet. And yet! Fenway night two? I don’t even have the words for Fenway night two. We were down on the turf, in B5, so, closer to the stage as compared to night one, but I couldn’t see much as I am the shortest Pearl Jam fan in the world. I could see the screens and if I tiptiptiptippie-toed and everyone aligned their heads just so, I could see the band. But I got to lean up against the Green Monster, and I got to look across the diamond and up at the Fenway Park sign from second base, so sweet mother, I was so grateful for the tickets.

I was surprised they started out slow again, but it was fantastic. Those early songs really sounded great, Ed’s voice just sailing. I tweeted at some point that Ed’s voice is a fucking MARVEL, and I feel like more than any show I remember being at, this one really highlighted how powerful it is. Maybe because the sound was just great, maybe because his voice is rested. But Eddie Vedder’s voice is a goddamn national treasure. I mean: Pendulum, Off He Goes, Nothing As It Seems, and Nothingman? Are you kidding me? Wishlist is kind of a “meh” for me, but then we got Interstellar Overdrive->Corduroy, and we started flying. 

Animal was raw, as it should be. Actually, there were several songs that were way more raw and angry than I’ve seen in a long time. Not For You was snarling, Ed was PISSED during a super heavy Deep, and did some old school crazy eyes. Go (yay!) was full of venom and angry longing. We got Immortality, an epic RVM, my required DTE. I mean that second encore? I would change nothing. Contender for best second encore ever? I say so. Smile->Go->Love Reign O’er Me(!!!!!!)->DTE->Breath(!!!)->Alive->RITFW (with fucking J Mascis)->Yellow Ledbetter. I mean COME ON. HOW DO YOU IMPROVE ON THAT?

It wasn’t all perfect. Hail, Hail, which I love, was a mess, and some of the transitions were kind of awkward (looking at you, Mind Your Manners into Betterman), but oh my god this is what makes these concerts so special. 

We had a wall of bros in front of us, and at first they kind of annoyed me, because they seemed so still – not jumping, not freaking out. But it also reminded me: HEY, I don’t get to dictate how people enjoy a show. They were fucking loving it, and if they don’t jump and dance and just want to soak it in, more power to them. It’s not up to me, so I did my thing, and they did theirs, and we all shared a big high five and several enormous grins. And high five to the guy behind me whose birthday was yesterday. Pearl Jam fans are the best.

Now, listen. I am not a show crier. I’m generally kind of a crier, but not really at shows. I think I cried once at a Tori show when she covered Landslide, but come on. So did every other person in the room. So when they started playing Angel (I can’t believe I just got to type that sentence: SO WHEN THEY STARTED PLAYING ANGEL), I was ecstatic. But when it started that climb, that beauty of a climb, I was totally overcome and started openly weeping. This song – it’s not just that they never play it. That makes it special, of course, but this is the song I can listen to on repeat, for hours on end, in any of the few forms that are out there. I love it, and I can’t explain why exactly, but it’s one of my top three pieces of music in the world. Maybe even top two (looking at you, It’s Ok tag from Virginia Beach in 2000), and while I knew they played it in Denver, and had a few listens, it didn’t knock my socks off. I mean, so cool they played it, but not life-changing. I didn’t dare hope we’d get it. And then we did, and it was perfect. I mean, it was so good. This song is obviously about Ed’s voice, and Ed’s voice is my favorite voice, and it’s so raw and open in this song, and it was just. Oooof. No words, honestly. This is what this band can do, right? It took me ages to get my shit back together through Footsteps (because that’s not really a good weeping recovery song!) and my t-shirt sleeves were all sopping and eyeliner-stained. 

Holy shit. Here’s Angel. That I got to see. At Fenway Park. Captured so ridiculously well by MFSYNC172, True American Hero.

And here’s some more. That biting (ha!) Animal:

Draw the Line with Tom Hamilton (seriously, Ed can really channel Steve Tyler):

A beauty of an Immortality:

Footsteps, the world’s worst song to make you stop crying:

Smile, which is always amazing:

My first ever Love Reign O’er Me which is the song that made me start this blog:

And Breath.

Also this is this first time I’ve ever bought a poster, and I could be happier it’s this one.

So much good stuff, Fenway night one, 2016

I tell you what. No matter how many times I see these guys – and it’s not a lot by some standards, but by normal people standards it’s a ton, last night was my 20th show – every single time I walk away renewed and inspired. I want to be that guy who is literally shouting from the rooftops, “I love this band! I love the way they bring us together!” It really is my church, and last night I shouted/screamed/hollered in the choir. Sorry ladies in front of me. We were in 10 Club seats down near the pesky pole and it was fantastic, though we had the world’s busiest row as people were coming and going pretty much every song, and I was right next to the aisle where a constant stream of people were climbing up to get beer or to eliminate the beer they had just gotten. But it didn’t matter. People around us were way into it, we had the obligatory stoner 10 Club Bostonian near us, and it was really really a fun crowd to be in.

Fenway night one was fucking great. The set was littered with good stuff: kicking it off with the Release/Long Road combo was a beauty. It was low key for a while (All Those Yesterdays!) and then kicked into gear with Given to Fly, which, I don’t care how many times I’ve seen it, it’s so fantastic live, all those arms and bodies flying up, it’s a beautiful thing. They played my three requirements for an awesome show: GTF, a rousing, kickass DTE, and Corduroy. I feel like those three songs, along with Release, make for a pretty complete Pearl Jam experience. But obviously it didn’t end there. Faithfull. Grievance. Down. That fun, rocking, fast Patriot. Strangest Tribe (what the hell? So cool. I’m no fanatic about that song but it was very cool to hear it). A beauty of a Wasted Reprise. Comfortably Numb (more on that in a second). Draw the Line? Ed channeling Steven Tyler very convincingly there. Then I’ve Got a Feeling and Baba to close it out. Ho-ly shit. 

And I need to say something about Masters of War, sandwiched in there between DTE and Patriot, because it was a stirring, intense version that literally made me shiver. I don’t think Ed has ever sounded better on that song, maybe even including the first one at the Bob Dylan tribute. Actually, Ed sounded pretty great all night. They all did, but I feel like Ed’s voice – to be clear, my favorite voice- sounded rich and sharp and clear in a way that was different. Maybe it was the ball cap.

The non-musical highlight of the night for me was when Ed called for his uke, and then none other but Yoooooooooouk brought it out for him. It was just so sweet and *punny* and perfect. I loved it, and I was laughing at the “uuuuukkkkkkeeees” before he came out because it was such a familiar call in Fenway. Reminder: I live in Seattle but was born and raised and collegiated in New England (and look how well that turned out, I can even make up new words like collegiated).

I have two very helpful pieces of constructive criticism for the band: (1) in Comfortably Numb, let Stone sing (!) – or talk – the talking part. That would contrast so ridiculously well with Ed soaring in the chorus, like it did when he sang it with a Roger. That would be some other-level shit. (2) Sweet mother do away with the embarrassing video effects when Mike is soloing. The video effects are so 80s hair band I can’t. I can only assume they are being ironic.

No doubt the band will listen closely to my brilliant contributions. Last night was so kickass, so ridiculously fun and inspired and full of life. I cannot wait to see what happens on Sunday.

And lucky us, King Video MFSYNC172 has some gems for us to enjoy!

That beauty of a Masters of War:

Rocking Fast Patriot:

The uber rarity Strangest Tribe:

Draw the Line:

and super fun I’ve Got a Feeling

[edited to add] Oh look he put up some more!

Release to kick it off (weird to see that in the daylight):

Long Road to ease us in:

All Those Yesterdays because it is always awesome:

And full band Society, on which Ed sounded amazing:

Let Me Sleep (It’s Christmastime), Seattle 2013

Oh, happy happy holidays to all of you gorgeous, wonderful fellow Pearl Jam fans. I hope your holidays are merry and bright and that the new year is filled with joy and Pearl Jam (interchangeable terms, I know).

Wish I could post a video of the degree to which I FREAKED OUT when they played this in Seattle: it’s one of my favorites, and only in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d get to see it live. This is the best video I’ve seen so far. Happy Christmas, lovelies!

Wrigley.

I’ve taken a little longer than I intended to put this post together. I wanted to write a super detailed review, to help me keep all these moments in my head, so nothing slips away. But we all know it doesn’t work that way. We all knew that Wrigley was going to be something special, and it was epic for more reasons than one.

I flew into Chicago a few days before the show, with my Official Pearl Jam buddy, C, who I’ve only been without at one subpar show. We got there early, wanting to soak up the atmosphere. Wrigleyville is fun, and it was overrun with the usual suspects. It was sweltering, but everything seemed to be buzzing, everyone was smiling. We had 10C field tickets, and after a delightful dinner with an esteemed member of the PJFam, we got through the gates quickly, and wandered around like little league players before they put up barricades and netting over the ivy. I’m not a Cubs fan (except in the sympathetic kind of way), but I’m a Red Sox fan, and I get fuzzy nostalgic feelings in a gorgeous old ballpark like Wrigley. It smells familiar, and standing in the middle of that field, scoreboard overhead, peering into the dugouts, it already felt like an event.

Our seats were good, on Mike’s side on the field. Everyone always says this, but it’s true: half the fun at these shows is meeting other fans. We were surrounded by great folks. We chatted with two super friendly guys in front of us, from Nashville; one of them had bought a sweet little PJ onesie for his three-week old newborn. Amazing, and relatable, to see his excitement for passing on the PJ love to his kiddos.

Looking around before the show started, everyone had a goofy grin plastered all over their face. There was a generally giddy, electric feeling: we all knew we were part of something special. C had been checking the weather obsessively all week, so we both had one eye on the sky, but it seemed like the bad weather had passed us by. They started late, and one of the last songs they played over the intercoms before coming out was a cruel one, because it had all these stops and starts that had us craning towards the stage.

And then, “Release”. Honestly, I can name on one hand the things that make me feel better than screaming out the lyrics to that song with 40,000 Faithfull. It’s incomparable, and I felt that surging rush of joy and power and hope. And it felt like everyone around me was feeling the same thing.

I still can’t believe we got “Present Tense”, much less that we got it so early on. I thought since they’d opened with it at London they might not play it again. It’s not my favorite song, but I love it. And this took everything to another level. It’s been a long time since I recognized that passion in EV’s eyes. Not to say he doesn’t give it all every time, but something about this felt different. If you were watching the big screens when they were showing him, I don’t know. Chills, goosebumps, and everything else you can think of to signal incredibly strong emotions, I had them. I’ve never really liked how he changes the lyrics to “all en-fucking trip…” (what does that even mean?) but it worked here. It was powerful. Everything about this was powerful, not just EV. I don’t know if this is a different arrangement or what, but holy Jesus, it about knocked me over. This was super early on, but it was the absolute highlight for me. And if you’ve got better video, please send it my way!

About those big screens? They were awesome, especially for vertically-challenged folks like me who otherwise wouldn’t have seen anything. But they also detract, I think; I spend a lot of time watching Pearl Jam videos (I know, you never would have guessed) and it puts some distance between the band and the fans. Plus, there weren’t any shots of the whole band, and that made me a little sad. And the weird effects made me say: go home video guys, you’re drunk.

I was surprised by how slow they started out (though when they played “Hold On” FOURTH it confirmed that something epic was underway). I was delighted we got “Low Light”, and “Come Back” was a first for me, and Ed’s dedication before that one was beautiful (you should go read the post on the PJ forum if you haven’t yet). I was ready for them to rock out, but in retrospect, I think the slow start helped us get through the delay.

C and I saw our first PJ show in 1998, at the Tibetan Freedom Concert in DC. A girl there got struck by lightning, in the stands. When Ed came out and told us we might have to take a break, it was almost a relief. At Wrigley, we’d seen the lightning in the sky and it was hard to be fully immersed when we were worrying about it. Standing around in the concourse was a bummer, of course, but it was pretty amazing to see how well-behaved and mellow people generally were. My phone died before we even got out there, so we didn’t know much, but there was never much worry that things wouldn’t go on.

And holy moly, go on they did. Ernie Banks coming out was as touching as anything I’ve seen at a live concert. They played DTE, which is a requirement for shows I attend (they’ve only failed me once). I still can’t believe we got to hear TWO never before heard songs (both of which I haven’t listened to again but intend to, even if “Future Days” made me gag a little, in a good-natured way of course. Curse these happily married rock stars! I need angst!). MYM was as rocking and ridiculously awesome live as I had hoped, and then it just became almost comical: Leatherman. Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns. Mother. BUGS. [and this Bugs was GOOD. None of the weird vocal stuff he’s done live before. Just straightforward awesome.]


Was it the most epic set list of all time? No, but it was pretty fucking awesome. Faithfull, All Night, Porch, Wasted Reprise. So much goodness,

And they were tight. Ed didn’t fuck up the lyrics, he was focused and willing us all into having as much fun as he was. Jeff in particular sounded great, I thought, and Matt was his usual awesome self. Mike was a rockstar, and Stone looked like a grumpy monster, but he was playing the shit out of everything. There wasn’t much banter, probably because of the looming curfew, and, like the rest of us, I wanted them to say “fuck the curfew” and keep playing, but we were also all totally exhausted and understood. We all understood that the saddest person of all was Ed. I think he would have made them play til dawn if he thought it wouldn’t keep him out in the future.

The trek home was epic, I climbed into bed at 4:30, more than 12 hours after I picked up my tickets. But it was so, so worth it. I’ll see you in the Fall, gentlemen, and I can’t wait. Thank you!

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Kick Out the Jams, Missoula 2012 (plus Toronto 2011, Werchter 2010 + NYC 2010). Because you can never have too much KOTJ.

I’ve been running quite a bit lately, and I have a  great playlist that keeps my legs chugging along. There’s a lot of PJ on there (shock!). “Brain of J” is the perfect BPM, as is Ed’s cover (with Betchadupa) of “I See Red” and PJ’s cover of “Sonic Reducer”. “Rise” is exactly what I want to hear on some cool mornings, as is that “Pump Organ” song from EV’s Fort Lauderdale show last year (not that I have that, obviously).

But this one (I’ve got this exact version on there) is hilariously inspiring for sprinting up a hill or making one more big push. I never thought too much of this cover, but now I love it. It’s the charging guitar that gets me, and Mark Arm is SO. COMPLETELY. GREAT.

The audio on this one isn’t perfect (anyone up for some syncing with soundboard?) – but I think having the audience in the background makes it. They are having a shit ton of fun, people. How does MM keep playing after being tackled by Mark Arm? Skillz.

Better audio, no audience:

Edited to add: And, ’cause MFSCYNC172‘s awesome, here’s some more Mark Arm (oh my god, his moves at 0:50) + PJ KOTJ action with perfect audio (and most excellent video) from Toronto in 2011. Also, Ed: get your shit together!

AND here they are with Dave Grohl bashing the shit out of a tambourine, and Alain Johannes rocking out, in Werchter 2010 (though I think Mark Arm does a better intro, no?):

And, finally, in NYC in 2010:

If you’re not dancing now, FAIL by you!

Fortunate Son, Missoula 2012

This was another highlight of the Missoula show – sweet soundboard on this one (cheers to MFSYNC2012, as per usual), and great video, too, that actually shows the whole band (gasp!). I love videos like this, where you can see how the whole band is interacting. It’s magic. I was sitting at the same angle, on the opposite side.