Pearl Jam: Wow

Pearl Jam As I mentioned in yesterday’s three beautiful things post, my brother surprised me Sunday morning by getting really great tickets to Pearl Jam for me and his wife. We had talked briefly about going to the concert a while back, but he had thought he’d be out of town, so I really didn’t think anymore about it. He kept looking, though, because he gets great satisfaction from wending his way through Ticketmaster’s arcane system — and he’s incredibly good at it, which is how he scored us lower-level seats on the day of the show. I think he really wanted to go himself, but graciously opted to stay home with the kids and let Jen & I have a girls’ night out.

Pearl Jam

Anyway… a big part of the reason I had forgotten about the concert is that, while I liked Pearl Jam back in the early ’90s, I had stopped buying their albums a long time ago. It wasn’t because I no longer liked their music, but because I had gotten tired of reading articles wherein Eddie Vedder complained bitterly about how much it sucked to be famous and how it bothered him to hear people singing his songs and blah blah blah. I decided that if he didn’t want to be famous, I’d do my part and not buy any more of his records. (Now with a few more years of life under my belt, I can see that, while being a musician might be a great career, fame itself does seem to blow.)

Pearl Jam

All of this is a ridiculously long preamble to saying that — much to my surprise — this concert absolutely knocked my socks off. I probably only knew a third of the songs in the nearly three-hour show, but was still on my feet almost the entire time. By today’s standards, it was a fairly stripped-down performance, with no fancy flourishes other than lighting, so it was really the charisma of the band and their powerhouse musicianship that carried the night. I am also a sucker for a band that really looks like they’re having fun playing together, and these guys certainly gave that impression.

Pearl Jam

I think it helped, too, that our seats were so close. We were in the first section on the side, about three rows back, where we were able to really see the band interact with each other. We saw them laugh off a song-ending guitar glitch during Evacuation, and we got to see Eddie hang out in the back smoking and drinking wine during the lengthy guitar solos that seemed almost custom-designed for that purpose. That’s the kind of stuff I really like about live shows — when things go wrong or when you see little less-scripted moments.

Of the songs I did know, they played a several of my favorites, including Black, which, it turns out, seems to be everyone’s favorite. The crowd nearly drowned out the band and continued the ending sing-along through a prolonged cigarette break… I mean, guitar solo. I was also glad to hear them do Daughter and Rearviewmirror, another couple of songs I really love. They took the bold step of not playing their biggest hit, Jeremy, at all — which would be sort of akin to Springsteen not playing Born to Run. I was fine with that, though. I don’t feel like concerts should be required to be a rehash of hits; I like having the opportunity to hear the less-famous songs.

I can say without hesitation that I came away from the show an absolute convert. And I don’t think I’m the only one — the entire crowd seemed tremendously engaged in the show. I’ve complained in the past about how incredibly lame DC audiences can be, so seeing the entire Phone Booth on its collective feet is a sign of what a great show it was. My Pearl Jam record-buying moratorium is officially over. I’ve been fighting the urge to download the albums I don’t have from iTunes (though I’ll probably cave on that pretty soon) and I think I am going to order the official bootleg of the show. Seriously, it was that good. They’re definitely a band I’d see again.

Oh, and I have to say… I now remember why I used to have a secret fangirl crush on Eddie Vedder. Damn, he’s hot.

Updated to add: Jen gets photo credit for the second two photos — only the first two are mine.

8 thoughts on “Pearl Jam: Wow

  1. Mom June 24, 2008 / 2:49 pm

    Sure does sound like you two had a FANTASTIC time — can’t say I know anything about Pearl Jam, other than to say I’ve heard of them — that’s all! This has got to be a record length post for you…….

  2. Chris June 24, 2008 / 10:23 pm

    Glad you enjoyed the show. Pearl Jam is a great band but it does seem like their new stuff stopped getting radio play after Virtuosity. I can’t say I know much of their material after the second album.

    Re: iTunes – I’m done buying from them. First, I want a physical copy so that as compressed formats advance I can upgrade my AAC/MP3 bit rates. Two, unless you’re getting a DRM-free track you don’t really own the material. The iTMS should shit down and you’re done with your copy (sure you could burn it to CD, but that’s a lot of work for something that’s supposed to be convenient). Three, CD’s sound better, even better than the 256k files, and the sound can’t get any better (see above). Not a big deal if you’re listening to your music on the subway or an airplane w/ the pack-in earbuds; hooked up to anything better and you begin to notice the sound’s not right. Finally, the price isn’t that great compared to Amazon. I may never buy another CD in a retail store, but Amazon prices plus shipping are often within two or three bucks of the iTMS price. A couple dollars and waiting three days it worth having the physical CD. Just my take.

  3. sionna June 25, 2008 / 10:29 am

    Wow, I cannot believe how close you were. I should let your brother buy all my concert tickets for me. He’s good!

    And kudos to him for staying home with the kids. He just got HUGE hubby points for that. Either that, or he is making up for the numerous Springsteen concerts, haha.

    Sounds like you gals had a blast. Good for you.

  4. peeler June 25, 2008 / 2:54 pm

    what time did the show start yesterday?

  5. Sarah June 25, 2008 / 3:15 pm

    I don’t know exactly, but based on the timestamps on my photos, I’d say Pearl Jam took the stage around 8:45, and finished about 11:25. (We were late for the opening act, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, who were wrapping up when we got there around 8:15, so I’d guess they must have gone on right about on schedule w/ the 7:30 ticket time.)

  6. peeler June 25, 2008 / 3:22 pm

    thanks!

  7. Mom June 26, 2008 / 10:59 am

    I think Sionna’s got Bri pegged — 1 Pearl Jam concert -versus- how many Springsteen concerts?? I know she’s gone to a couple, but the scale sure is tipped on that one 🙂

  8. Joe June 26, 2008 / 11:34 am

    Sarah,

    First of all, it’s good to be in touch with you and I’m glad to see that you are doing well. I knew that I was going to have to explore your page more when I saw that you had your busy Sunday planned, because a baseball game and a Pearl Jam show sounds about as good as it gets to me.

    I saw PJ back in 2002 or 2003 when they played at the Pepsi (as it was known then) here in Albany. That was crazy–Eddie Vedder was booed by a significant portion of the crowd for his anti-war comments, and the common rebuttal was fans holding up handmade peace signs, very elegant 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of white paper with the peace symbol in black ink. It seemed so natural to both groups that I was sure this had become a ritual venting of private neuroses that the band seemed to appreciate. Nowhere near the ego-maniacal hero-worship that attends most events of, well, any type. I also vividly remember that they not only pulled a “guest musician” out of the audience as they often do, but they also took turns taking pictures of her with each other. It was like they stopped the show for a personal photo shoot. It was rather touching, actually, as was their informal “communion,” in which each band member comes to Eddie and shares a drink from his bottle of wine. I remember feeling like the show was strangely intimate and honest.

    Anyway, I took a brief respite from the band at the end of the ’90s and had expected that show to be a disappointing reminder that I was not a kid any more and neither were they. But it actually rekindled my interest in the band. You should check out their recent concert DVDs (I was gonna suggest you rent them, but that would be sooo last millenium).

    I was going to make a joke about the Nats, but I’m still so grouchy about what they did to the Mets last September that I will keep that to myself. After all, the only thing that separates winners from losers in baseball is a healthy elbow ligament.

    Again, it’s good to hear from you and I like your Facebook page–I grabbed goodreads from it. Take care.

    Joe

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