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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Blast From The Past


June 1, 2010
By Linda Venezie
Topic Tags - Pearl Jam, Music News, Concert Reviews

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Sometimes I measure a concert’s quality by how many and how big the bruises are that I have on my body afterwards… and I have a nice big red and purple baby on my lower thigh.  My concert memento!

This is only my second PJ show – the first being Cleveland on March 22, 1994.  At that show, Eddie played an encore of Sheraton Gibson, which is a rather obscure Who song… and my being a huge Pete Townshend fanatic, well, it seemed like I was the only person there who knew the song.  And even though I was half an arena away from the stage, it felt like it was being played just for me.  And after hearing Ed play that song, I became a PJ fan for life.

It was a LONG 2 years before I was lucky enough to get tickets for the Toledo show of September 22, 1996.  And by the way, “22” was my favorite number years before I was a PJ fan… so it was very fitting that the first 2 shows I saw took place on the 22nd of the month   Fate?  I don’t doubt it.


For about a week before the show, every time I remembered that I was going to get to see our PJ boys again I got this sweet, warm thrill that started in my belly and spread all through my body.  If we could find a way to bottle that feeling, no one would ever need to take drugs!  And finally, the long wait was over… and the night had come.

You how time flies when you’re having fun?  Well I have a job I love… hours FLY by… but this 2 hours was over in the blink of an eye.  Never has time gone so fast.  And there was something wrong – they should have played 30 minutes longer than they did.  Because they left without playing Black!  Porch!  SMILE!!  But I shouldn’t complain because hey – I was THERE, right?  And it was an awesome venue – every seat was a good one, and there were only 9000 people there.  The sound was incredible, volume was perfect… my ears didn’t ring at all afterwards.  And our seats, well there WERE better seats in the house, but I could see perfectly, especially with my binoculars.  And watching Eddie dancing and singing while wearing those gray dress pants, well - the ladies out there who remember those pants, will know why I enjoyed it. (And by the way, I swear they are the same pair he wore on Letterman a few weeks back… or does he buy multiple copies of all of his clothes?  Remember those brown t-shirts?) 

OK – so when we first got there, the first (nice) surprise was that there was no line for the chick’s bathroom.  We took care of business, came back out – and there was a line for the men’s room that snaked almost all the way back to the front doors.  HA!  Now the guys know how WE feel! Don’t ask me why – but that still puts a smile on my face… and it was that way the whole night.  That men’s room line was always backed up, while us girls never had to wait.  The reason for this?  There were about 5 guys to every 1 girl.  And they were YOUNG.  I know my friend Fay and I were the oldest people there.

So, about 9:15 pm our PJ guys just slowly walked out, and the beginning notes of Sometimes began… it’s nice and quiet.  Eddie sings softly, changes the words a bit, then POW – right into Hail, Hail… and we were all rocking, jumping, smiling, singing – pure ecstasy!  Then, no rest for the weary - next comes Animal!   1, 2, 3, 4, 5… hand’s up, finger’s counting – we all know the words – the pit is jumping in unison.  A killer version!  “1, 2, 3, 4, 5 against one, I said…” WHOMP.  Whew… need a rest.  Tribal drums… things quiet down… In My Tree starts, and the pit stops.  Not a lot of people seem to know the song… but I love the little yodels in it, and there was some very impressive drumming from Mr. Irons.  But the crowd quieted too much for Eddie’s taste because he then says “we have to wake you guys up – make you act like it’s a Saturday night instead of a Sunday… this should help.  And by the way – this song is about a RECORD…” and Mike starts playing the riff for STBC – everyone goes nuts again and the pit is once again jumping up and down in union. 

This song is truly Pavlovian – there is no WAY you could possible listen to it and stand (or sit) still.  I do believe this is the song I got my nice little bruise memento ?.   Then Eddie grabs his guitar and we hear the familiar beginning of Corduroy –  everyone is singing along again… and that blended into a fave – Last Exit… “this is, this is, MY…”.  Out of breath again, sweating my ass off, a constant sappy smile on my face. There’s another (small) rest – Better Man… nice and slow, lights low, Ed singing sweetly and softly (the audience sings louder than he does) till the drums liven it up to “memories, back when she was smooth and strong…” and we’re all dancing again.

Then, to my surprise comes that cool 62 second blast they call Lukin – I'm screaming the words (as does Eddie) and jumping so high my feet take awhile to come back down to the ground.  But it’s over much too quick… I yell out “one more time!” because I’ve always thought it would be so cool if they did that live – Stone would say “one more time” and they’d play it again.  Ahhh... a girl can dream, eh?

Then Ed gets his guitar and plays those chords that to my ears sound out of tune (are those sharp or flat chords?  Need someone with guitar knowledge here…).  It’s Not For You – and once again the place goes nuts… after the song Ed says “just want to let you know – that last song?  It wasn’t written for you!”  Bass notes start Jeremy – this is one that I stand still for and watch with my binoculars.  And unless it’s a good act (which I doubt) Eddie still sings this song with such passion… eyes rolling up into his head… and there’s no stopping – they go straight into Evenflow.  This is Mike’s shining moment – he is just totally amazing on this song… there’s a soaring, wailing solo at the end that leaves me panting – my mouth hanging open – friggin’ INCREDIBLE (mere words fail to express).. and this is when the tears come to my eyes amidst thunderous applause.

Stone speaks!  Can’t remember exactly what he says… something like “it’s MY turn?” or “wanna hear me sing?” – can’t remember for sure.  Shit!  Anyhow, I'm so glad because I get to hear Mankind.  Stone sounds great (maybe a bit nervous?) and Eddie stands off to Mike’s side of the stage to sing backup, giving Stone the spotlight, which I thought was very cool.

Then Jeff sits down with his stand-up bass, and Stone plays the chords to Daughter, which blends into The Ramone’s I Believe in Miracles.  Then Jeff stands up, Ed gets a guitar and it’s Habit – Ed does some Pete Townshend windmills (COOL!), but again Mike is the star of this song and plays another blistering solo to end it.

Next is I Got Id which I love… and it slowed things down a bit but we still all sang along.  Ed started talking about it being a Sunday night and how everyone should have done their homework (or something to that affect).  From here my notes get a little sketchy, but we are hit with the bomblast of Alive and then Blood, which ends the set.

Encore 1 gives us more jumping up and down with Go, and then a cool-off with Who You Are, and right back into another one-two punch with RVM and The Who’s Leaving Here.  Then the second set ends.  After a few moments, our boys are back with the second encore – the moody, quiet, introspective Indifference – which closes the show.

As always, it’s over in what seems like an eye blink.  Some songs I wished I'd have heard:  Oceans, SOLAT, Leash, Smile, Satan’s Bed, Whippin, Garden – and – Black.  But there’s always next time!


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