Saturday, June 03, 2006

Pearl Jam in East Rutherford, part 1

I've been a bad little blogger of late, but I will try and make it up with some quality posts. Unfortunately, y'all have to hear about a couple of Pearl Jam concerts first. I survived two great sets as Ed Vedder and Company wrapped up the first leg of their worldwide tour this past weekend in the Meadowlands. (Note: this post is dated June 2, but was written later...).

Show one was Thursday night, June 1st. Pal Jill and I took the bus from Port Authority and enjoyed the traffic, clueless driver, and non-air-conditioned atmosphere, which deposited us, eventually, outside of Continental Airlines arena.

We picked up my fan club seats, which were on the floor, in the second section, next to the soundboard, on the aisle. Row "O". Decent seats. I grabbed a poster (above) and a tour shirt:

One of the more admirable traits of Pearl Jam is their support of their opening acts. Countless concert-goers can recall how unheralded openers often play to near-empty arenas. I, myself, skipped seeing Sleater-Kinney open for Pearl Jam at the Garden in 2003. Ed Vedder's solution is often to come out alone, ahead of the opening band, and play an acoustic song unaccompanied, as a reward to those of us willing to hear the opening set.

Knowing this, I made sure we were seated early, and we were not disappointed. Ed appeared and did a nice acoustic version of "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," the classic Beatles tune that Vedder covered for the I Am Sam soundtrack.

He then invited the opening band, My Morning Jacket, a quintet from Kentucky, up on stage, and remained with them, singing with them for their opener, a cover of the Band's classic "It Makes No Difference."

Their setlist ran as follows: 1. It Makes No Difference (w/ Ed Vedder) 2. Off the Record 3. What a Wonderful Man 4. Gideon 5. Wordless Chorus 6. O Is The One That Is Real 7. One Big Holiday 8. Anytime 9. Mahgeetah.

Writing this in hindsight, the set was okay. A little lackluster. The opener with Ed was great, and "What a Wonderful Man" was nice. The jam at the end of "Mahgeetah" featured lead singer Jim James wantonly tossing a large stuffed bear into the air as the band finished their song. It was quite surreal. I later learned that the bear, which stands on stage during their show, is the star of the cover of their previous album "It Still Moves".

Pearl Jam took the stage about 10 minutes to 9:00, and played to 11:20 or so. They ran through a setlist of 30 songs:

Main Set: Severed Hand, Corduroy, World Wide Suicide, Do The Evolution, Marker In The Sand, Given To Fly, Dissident, Even Flow, Army Reserve, Immortality, Green Disease, Not For You/(Modern Girl), Alone, Jeremy, Why Go, Life Wasted, Rearviewmirror

The main set was quite good, starting with a flurry of fast-paced, hard-rocking songs. The energy changed a bit before "Army Reserve" when Ed said that they sung better in Boston. Not a way to endear the crowd. For me, the show changed after that, when they started playing some more obscure songs from their back catalog. The song "Modern Girl" was tagged to the end of "Not for You" and is a Sleater-Kinney tune. "Alone" was a treat, a track from before Ten that doesn't get played much. They had basically retired it from '94 to '04 and revived it recently, with this being the first appearance on this leg of the tour (the 91st song in 15 shows).
Ed had some mic problems, but finished the song with a flurry. I got my first live version of "Jeremy" and the set ended with a ten minute version of "Rearviewmirror" that featured prolonged solos and Ed illuminating different sections of the arena with a spot reflecting off his guitar lofted over his head.

Encore 1: Wasted Reprise, Man Of The Hour, Come Back, Footsteps, Once, Alive

The first encore was great, starting off with the first few songs very mellow. The three songs, "Footsteps," "Once" and "Alive" are early PJ staples that, in reverse, are known as "The Mamasan Trilogy," one of the "Holy Grails" of live Pearl Jam shows. It is rarely played, forward, or in reverse sequence, so getting to see that was phenomenal. If you are at all interested, check out the link above to the trilogy for a full explanation/history, as well as downloadable forms of early live versions. Brilliant!

Encore 2: Last Exit, Comatose, Leatherman, Glorified G, Leash, Baba O'Riley, Indifference

From my limited experience, and based on what I've read on message boards, the second encore was a phenomenal blast that may go down as one of the most unique encores that Pearl Jam has played. They blew through the 11:00 PM New Jersey "curfew," and came out with "Last Exit," then "Comatose" off the new album which is becoming an encore staple. Pure brilliance. That was followed by the rarity "Leatherman." After "Glorified G," Ed had a dialogue with the crowd, referring to several incidents from their last tour through the tri-state area. They opened a "dialogue" about the song "Bu$hleaguer," a political diatribe against W. The song has PJ fans split. It's not a great song, and some don't want to hear it. Others feed off the controversy and recognize it as a rare concert occurrence.

Much to my dismay, when Ed asked the crowd if people would boo if they played it, a bunch of folks booed. The cheers to play it seemed louder. So we didn't get it. Then Ed referenced the great "Leash" controversy. Refer to my earlier post here if you need refreshing. Ed talked about the "Play Leash, You Pussies!" sign from Madison Square Garden on July 9, 2003 and then, as a testament to the band's resilience (Ed's words, not mine), they played a blistering version for us. Phenomenal. At the end of the song, Ed proclaimed, "Pussies No More!" They "dropped the Leash" on the last seven shows of the tour leg.

The house lights came up for "Baba O'Riley," the Who's classic anthem, and they just shredded through it. It's one of three songs they usually end with. So, I was quite surprised when, after it ended, they played the wonderful "Indifference," to end the show, allowing the audience to take over the chorus at the end, a truly remarkable ending. It's usually an encore song, but rarely a show closer.

And night one was only the beginning......

Added 6/9/06:

Pearl Jam - E. Rutherford, 6/1/06 - Severed Hand (Show Starts).mp3

Pearl Jam - E. Rutherford, 6/1/06 - Indifference (Show Ends).mp3

"Severed Hand" is on Pearl Jam's new self-titled album. Buy it from Amazon here.

"Indifference" is from the album Vs. which can be purchased here.

All MP3s provided on this site are hosted via official sites or with the artist/label's permission. On the extremely rare occasion when this isn't the case, the track will only be available for a very limited time. If you are the owner of a sound file and would like it removed, please email me directly. If you like what you hear, PLEASE follow the links provided to buy the records and support the music.


Anonymous said...

I am the aforementioned "Pal Jill" who was lucky enough to attend Thursday night's PJ show with Bill. Billyblog does not exaggerate the quality of the evening.

Now, admittedly, I prefer the mellower Pearl Jam songs but the band's (and especially Eddie's) energy blew me away. And I'm not saying that because I have a crush on Eddie Vedder...have since '92...pretty sure I'm not alone here. Because of that energy, I am motivated to give some of the "harder" tracks a better listen.

I was also very impressed with the dedication of the fans. I thought I was a fan...nope. It seemed that nearly everyone around me knew every word to every song and shared the band's enthusiasm in playing, singing and hearing them.

So, thank you to Bill for initiating me to the scene and thank you to Bill's friend Ian for giving up his ticket to go to LA LA Land instead. I truly, truly appreciate it!

heather said...

Thanks for the Indifference link, I LOVE THIS SONG. Jealous that they ended with it.

Also, I like that PJ shirt. Perhaps I will buy me one in Denver. The last PJ shirt I bought was Mr. Point from the 1995 tour. Ha!