Pearl Jam home shows – a review

As far as Pearl Jam shows go… this was a meh.  We shall get to that at great length.

20181102_023543

First, the trip.  It was a special trip by the time I hit the Denver airport going to Seattle  I saw a lot of ‘Jammers’. I don’t think us Pearl Jam fans have a cool name like ‘Deadheads’, so we will go with ‘Jammers’.  Even getting on the parking lot bus shuttle in Denver I started seeing Pearl Jam shirts. It looked like our pilot did, too. Our flight was a direct flight from Denver to Seattle, the day in-between the 2 sold out ‘Home Shows’.  As I sit down next to my future ex wife (that is a joke about how pretty the stranger in the seat next to me… NOT a joke about leaving my current wife.)  I wrote here about that, too.  the pilot says we have a lot of Pearl Jam fans on board, huh? We all yell in approval  Note, we are still just in Denver. The pilot asks us to do something fun. He said ‘everyone on the plan tonight to go see Pearl Jam turn on you call buttons. The plane lit up, and we looked around proud. It was like an airline version of holding up lighters for a concert ballad.  I had never experienced something like that, so it was super cool. SouthWest just rocks.

Now we land in Seattle and the place is dead.  It was midnight on a Thursday. As I came down the stairs into the main terminal, these awesome huge banners greeted us.

This was SO cool.  I haven’t been embraced like this as a rock fan since I was seeing Jerry and the boys 30 years ago in Vegas. Back then, as drove into Vegas from Px we saw billboards that read ‘Welcome Deadheads’.   As a BIG fan of rock shows live, I am not used to being embraced. I remember seeing the Butthole Surfers back in high school. They were playing some dive bar in a stabby part of town. Something happened with the band and the club and the show was canceled while loading in.  What Gibby did right then made me a fan for life of the Butthole Surfers. Gibby (their singer) came out to the crowd in line and said ‘hey all. We are here and have our gear and the cleaners next door are offering us their outlets. So, we are going to do a whole concert outside in the alley.   And they did it. Point being, I am still not used to society embracing rock fans.

See that pic?  I think I know not only what song he is singing… but what syllable he is singing.  I follow them that close.   22 years in the Ten Club, baby… and seat selection goes by tenure.  So, we always get really good seats to see the band.

If you have never seen Pearl Jam before these shows, you can be forgiven for thinking it was amazing.   They are amazing live. It’s their bread and butter, and always been. In fact, they have pioneered a great deal of live recording and distribution technology.  Also, no two shows are ever the same. The setlists are done only an hour before the show. Like the Grateful Dead, it gives incentive to see every show on the tour if you could.  If I could, I would.

This wasn’t their best, though.  This was far from it. Its not age, that is for sure.  Best show I have seen them from was just a few years ago.  This show was for people to meet the band, that remember them from the 90s.  The sets were big on the hits, I guess.  Funny thing is, not sure if they really have any ‘hits’ in the radio marketing sense.  technically, their only ‘hit’ was a cover.  This one. The setlists left like they were written by a fan who saw them once 25 years ago.  The show was just… different. It was safe. There was no rambling from Ed. and Ed rambles… a LOT. Last time I saw them, they played almost 4 hours, and it felt like a third of that was a drunk Ed pontificating on everything.  In fact, not even sure I saw a bottle of wine. Normally, Ed walks out to EVERY show with a notebook and a bottle of wine.

Another odd observation.  they had set up merch tents outside the show all week.  Cool.   Inside the concert were merch lines.  I wanted to get a shirt, but the lines were LONG.  I asked a dude in line how his wait was and he said 75 minutes so far, not much movement.  That isn’t even the interesting thing.  As I made my way often back the concourse… these folks were STILL there.  Same folks.  I am confident that about a thousand folks (stadium had 53K, I think) people that night never saw show.  Instead, they were inside the concourse not moving.  People flew all the way to Seattle not to see Pearl Jam… but to buy a shirt to show you were at the show.  I have to admit, I never did get a shirt, and I am a bit sad about that.  I saw a cool thing they did with the shirts, too.  One of them had Wednesday’s setlist silk screened on the back, that was super cool!  It is now Friday, two days later.  There were two shows, Weds & Friday.  We were only at the 2nd show.

It was a great shirt, It wasn’t worth missing the show, though.  I fear some of those folks are still in line.

Another thing I didn’t love… they kept Mike McCready in check.  Mike is one of the most explosive rock guitarists out there. Years ago, in introducing the band, Eddie called him a mad and dangerous science experiment.  In the early years, you heard him… too much. His style and talent simply dominate. As of the last decade or so, he is more restrained on record. I call it ‘waking up McCready’.  He stays out of the way for most songs… until about half way through. By the end of most songs, he just goes full fucking McCready and shreds our faces off. I didn’t see any of that at the Friday show.  There were two shows; a Wednesday, and a Friday.

Here is another thing I didn’t love… the jumbotrons.  I know its a football endzone thing, but it is what i call the big screens every concert has.  Last time I saw them, the filming was stunning. It was so well done, and so beautiful, I assumed the show was being taped to release.  These screens are important, as most of us are too far away to see things like facial expressions. At the home shows, there was virtually no close ups.  Most of the shots were just wide shots of the whole stage. I don’t need that… that is what I am seeing already.

Ed is obviously VERY political, and will not hesitate to ramble on about any issue.  He was careful to be on his best behavior for this show. I don’t want a restrained Ed, and that is what we got.  I really don’t want an restrained Mike McCready, but that is what we got. I am looking at the setlists, and i am jelly of the Wednesday show.  They got a much better setlist. Here is the Friday night setlist, and here is the Wednesday one.  I see there are plenty of obscure songs, but few of quality.

I should note, the two opening songs rocked my face off.  They opened with a perfect sounding Oceans, and then a super duper rare ‘Footsteps’.  I also got to hear ‘In Hiding’, which is wonderful and rare.  You can’t tell from the video, but that Oceans just sounded studio good, if not better.  It gave me chills.   How the hell do these guys keep getting better?   There are pretty much NO bands better than they were 30 years ago… except maybe Iron Maiden.

And the band can’t be blamed for this one… but Chris Cornell would should have been there.   I just kept thinking about that all weekend, and I sure everyone else did, too.  Kim Thayil came out and played a lot, he is Soundgarden’s guitarist. Also, remember that Pearl Jam and Soundgarden share the same drummer… and have for about 15 years.  Matt Cameron was in two full time working and touring rock bands at the same time. His absence was felt heavily, but understandably never mentioned. To me, the first shot of love to Chris was playing ‘Footsteps’.  See, Footsteps is an odd bird. Temple of the Dog (which is Pearl Jam, but with Chris Cornell singing) did the exact same song… but with different lyrics. The Temple of the Dog version is called ‘Times of Trouble’. Makes some sense, and Mike McCready wrote it… and he is in both bands.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the show.  It is always always always a great show.  However, I don’t think this show would crack my top ten Pearl Jam shows.  You see bumper stickers like ‘a bad day fishing is better than a good day at the office’.  That is how I feel about just an ok Pearl Jam show… it is still the best thing on Earth.

In closing, I must tell you about the Aussie next to us, and the most wonderful husband ever.  The gal next to us was from Australia, and flew all the way to the states just to see this concert.  I am a super fan, I knew every single song, and I almost always do. Not telling you that to impress you.  I am telling you that Australia girl was a super fan, and knew every word to every song. What makes that special, and what makes her husband the greatest husband ever?  Dude did not know a single song. I watched him… he didn’t even know the words to ‘Betterman’. He is the greatest husband because he literally crossed the Earth so his wifey could see her favorite band.  This poor guy had ZERO interest in the band.

I love my wife, and she means the world to me.  But, would I fly 20 hours at a cost of thousands to see a band I hate?  No sir. I would want her to go, but I’ll stay home and watch rugby and Paul Hogan movies.

*** one last thing – remember hearing about that guy who stole a commuter plane and crashed it outside of Seattle?  That was all happening during the show.  Pretty sure I not only saw that plane, I took a photo of it!  Now, I had NO idea about the whole story until the next day.  During the show, though, I pointed a plane out to the wifey that was flying really low over the stadium.  I thought it was cool, it was so cool I took a photo of it.  I think that was the plane.  The initial concern from the authorities was he might be heading for the Pearl Jam show.  it would be a perfect act of terrorism… 53K all outside smooshed together, and not even a roof to stop you.

Lemme tell you something else about that flight.  the Govt says we never shot it down, and he just crashed.  I got a buddy who I will not name who lives in one of those islands by where that happened.  He saw this, and said it was shot down.  Feel free not to believe me.  Why the hell am I putting this in writing?  Because I trust you, and I speak truth to power.

Advertisements

fives of days

it’s not Friday, but I wanted to share some content with you.  Been traveling over the weekend.

pearl-jam-eddie-vedder-stick-figure-die-cut-sticker-decal

What plans did you have for this summer?

To survive.  Am ready for cool weather, and no visitors for a bit. Heck, i am ready for cold weather.   Wifey and I made it here 21 years in Denver with no A/C. After this June that set all kinds of records, and being someone who is aware of climate change… we finally broke down and bought a portable AC unit.  Excellent investment.

It was a very very busy summer, musically speaking.  A LOT of concerts. See, our families finally figured out we live an hour away from Red Rocks, the greatest rock venue in America.  So, our out of state relatives check the calendar and pick a show to see and come visit us. Which… we LOVE. This meant that in one month this summer, we saw Umphreys McGhee, the Eagles, Jimmy Buffet, Avett Brothers, Dead and Company.  And when that stopped, we flew to Seattle to see the big Pearl Jam ‘Home Show’ spectacular. That one was fun. Not just because we have wonderful and dear friends in Seattle… but the Pearl Jam shows felt like a movement.  This may sound dorky, or old… but rock and roll (and certainly my heroes) were on the fringes.  This is why watching Pearl Jam get into the rock hall of fame was so moving.  So many bands there I loved and followed weren’t really my generation.  Sure, I saw the Allman Brothers over 20 times… but their true time was an era before me.  By the time I got on board in the 90s, they were already touring on nothing but 20 year old hits.  Pearl Jam, though… I watched them come up from day 1.  I felt that when we landed in Seattle and I saw those banners in the airport.  Those banners said “you were right, Lono.  They are awesome.  Sorry we doubted you.”  Of course, there is another side to that which is a little more sad…. so we will stick with the romantic perspective.    

 In flying out of Denver the day before the show, the SouthWest crew noticed how many people had Pearl Jam gear on.  The pilot called us all out on the flight… in Denver, mind you. He said everyone on the plane who was going to see Pearl Jam should turn on their call buttons. The whole plane lit up, like lighters on an encore. It was as if we were on a chartered jet to see Pearl Jam.

When we got to the airport, we were greeted with this

20180810_001302

Have you accomplished them or is it still a work in progress?

Have I accomplished all the summer stuff?  Well, we certainly jammed in a ton of visits and little trips and tons of concerts.  It was not an ambitious summer. Mostly, like everyone… we just worked. It is just work and sleep and rinse and repeat.  This summer was shitty hot, so I am just glad it’s over.  Here is a cool pic of me from this weekend.  In the evenings, when camping, I am usually the entertainment.  We sit around a fire and drink and I play guitar and tell stories for hours.  I an easily play for 4 or 5 hours at the fire.  Just keep feeding me beer and ciggies, and sing along when you can.

20180901_151413

What would make this summer much better for you?

For it to be over, and it is.  It was just HOT. ALWAYS. Every day in June was some kind of record because it was over 95.  This is why I left Phoenix. Granted, these are first world problems. I am SO fucking blessed in my life.  I have a big beautiful ranch and house and wife who loves me and an amazing family on both sides… and I am bitching about how hot my living room is?  Hey… you asked. I didn’t bring it up. I am just answering the questions.   WAIT… can I add this?  Kudos to all of you who do all this and have kids.  We have no kids, and we are very happy that way.  I can’t imagine doing all the stuff we do, and all the work we do, and also raising kids.   Well, actually, if we had kids we wouldn’t have the time or the money to do any of these things.

When did you go back to school from summer break when you were a kid?

It was very clean… the break.  Memorial day to Labor day. Same from kindergarten to high school.  We had no variables in days… because we didn’t have snow days.

Is anyone else as shocked as I am that it’s Labor Day Weekend and most of the summer is nearly over?

No.  It now being a few days past, I feel Fall very much.  Not in the days, but the evenings cool down a lot, and quickly.  We jammed so much stuff in, I am ready to just not do much but watch some football.  Here is another example of what we jammed in… I drove 1500 miles this last weekend. Again, no regrets… but I am tired, mister.  Also, I look at things this way… every day that passes is a day less we have with President Trump.  My lord what a piece of shit that guy is.  Remember how Fonz couldn’t say the word ‘wrong’?  I know I already did that rant… but what does a guy have to do to get impeached these days?  The Russia stuff is very clear and very dark.  He is a horrible narcissist and the world will be better when he is gone.  Sooner, rather than later, would be preferable.

Ok, time for bed.  I love you, and you are doing great!