In which my mind just about explodes as I witness America’s greatest living rock band playing for over three hours at the Northwest’s greatest stadium.
There was considerable speculation as to who Pearl Jam would have open this show for them. You see, this was not just another North American Tour for the grunge rock pioneers – six dates were all they were doing, three dubbed The Home Shows in Seattle and Missoula, and then three Road Shows at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. Alleged start time for the show was 7:30, and as the clock crept closer to 8:00, it became clear that there would not be an opening act.
When Pearl Jam took the stage at 8:05, I had no idea they would still be playing well after 11:00…
Thirty-one songs, representing eight of their eleven studio albums (no tracks from No Code, Riot Act, or Backspacer were included) across over 25 years kept the crowd singing along and metaphorically in the palm of Ed, Mike, Stone, Jeff, and Matt’s collective hand. There were theatrics including extended jam sessions, guitar-behind-the-back McCready solos, and stories and commentary from Mr. Vedder. My favorite Dad pun of the evening was Ed asking how many in attendance were from Seattle, to a loud ovation, and then asking how many were from out of town. Then, he asked “if you aren’t from here, why go home?” Clever, Ed, clever.
We were informed of the inspiration for “Even Flow”, as Ed told us of a homeless man coincidentally named Eddie who “lived” near the studio where they were recording Ten and the friendship the two men forged. Ed wrote the song as a tribute to him and the millions of others like him, and was devastated to learn upon returning from their first world tour that Eddie had passed away. After a long and loud version of “Porch”, Ed smashed his mic stand with all of his might and walked off the stage with his guys. Now THAT’s how you go to your first encore break! By the way, to quote the first line of that song, just what the fuck is this world burning to?
There was also a guest appearance from Seattle native singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile who sang with Ed on his band’s excellent version of her song “Again Today”, which they had covered for a tribute album a few years back. And, of course – there were the covers. Each one masterfully done with earnest and sincere respect for the originals, but with energy and PJ’s own flavor: The Beatles’ “Help!”; Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”; Jack White’s “We’re Going to be Friends” (which Ed performed solo on acoustic guitar and dedicated to the teachers of the Puget Sound area); and two of “Uncle Neil’s” songs, “Throw Your Hatred Down” and “Rockin’ in the Free World”.
The band played for three and a half hours, including two short encore breaks, and when they finished with “Yellow Ledbetter” (complete with the lights at Safeco turned on) to a standing ovation worthy of a head of state, they smiled, got together and took a bow, and said goodnight. A good night, indeed, and one that I shall never forget.
The Long Road
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
Do the Evolution
Throw Your Hatred Down (Neil Young cover)
Mind Your Manners
Given to Fly
All Those Yesterdays
Help! (Beatles cover)
I Am A Patriot (Jackson Browne cover)
We’re Going To Be Friends (White Stripes cover) (Ed solo)
Nothing As It Seems
Let Me Sleep (It’s Christmas Time)
Again Today (Brandi Carlile cover) (With Brandi Carlile)
State of Love and Trust
Better Man (Wasted Reprise intro)
Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd cover)
I’ve Got a Feeling
Rockin’ In the Free World (Neil Young cover)
Spotify Playlist Link: