In May of 2006, Pearl Jam released their self titled disc, which I consider to be their finest album ever. Every song is a masterpiece on that record and considering that I wondered if the band was going to retire before they announced the recording of that album, it was quite a nice surprise.
When tickets to a world tour went on sale shortly before the album’s release, I immediately snatched up a pair. A copy of the new album was available for an extra $10, and since I was going to purchase it anyway, I added it to the order. The album was shipped directly to my house (from a separate vendor) and I believe it arrived the day of the official release.
My friend Kerry, whom I had attended some Bruce shows with in the past, was going with me to see Pearl Jam at the Continental Airlines Arena. We were excited, both being big fans of Pearl Jam. They were one of my five favorites, and with the number of bands I listen to, being in the top 5 is quite a feat. My love for Pearl Jam is very dedicated.
Kerry and I got to the parking lot early. The sun was shining on a beautiful June day and we had a few drinks, shared a few laughs, and reminisced about sitting in the same parking lot 13 years earlier before a Bruce Springsteen concert. Where had the time gone? Kerry jokingly warned me not to sprain my ankle (again) and I laughed at that memory. We were so much younger then.
Having decided to sit in the lot for drinks, I missed two very important segments of the concert that night. The first being Eddie Vedder’s pre-concert performance. He came out to a half empty arena and played three songs acoustic. It was a surprise opening act to the opening act. The second thing I missed was seeing My Morning Jacket open for Pearl Jam. At the time, I had no idea who they were, so I didn’t mind missing them to memory lane with Kerry. Now in hindsight, knowing the band well, I wish I had gone in earlier to see the opening act.
We settled into our seats right after My Morning Jacket had left the stage. Sitting down in the 100s, our view to the stage was decent and the seats were real good. We patiently waited for the show to begin and were rewarded shortly after with the opening song of Severed Hand. This was one of several new songs that Pearl Jam would perform that evening and it sounded incredible.
Hearing the songs from Pearl Jam performed live gave me a deeper appreciation for them and the new disc. Having loved the disc before the concert, by the end of the night it was moving into top 100 albums of all time territory. Pearl Jam had really produced a fine piece of music.
The concert was a typical Pearl Jam show. They were at the end of the first leg of their tour and they were happy to be wrapping up and taking some time off. They rewarded us with a lengthy show that evening. In addition to the new songs, several hits were performed. Given To Fly, Immortality, Not For You (which I hadn’t heard in years), Jeremy, and Reaviewmirror were all played.
Along with the hits, Pearl Jam pulled out some deep rarities, some of which I had never seen performed live. Man of the Hour, Alone, Footsteps, and Leatherman all got special billing for the New Jersey fans. The rarities were an incredible treat, and hearing these songs live made the concert for me.
Lead vocalist supreme, Eddie Vedder, was his usual complimentary self. He thanked the crowd for giving them the best job in the world, told us how wonderful we were and how delighted the band was to perform for us, and explained that without us, they wouldn’t be living the great life of performing music. That’s one of the things that make Pearl Jam so magnificent. They appreciate their fans and they don’t forget how they got to the top. They know the fans put them there and they do everything they can to remember their fan base.
While the classic performances were incredible, the new songs sounded fantastic. I was excited to hear Marker In The Sand, Army Reserve, World Wide Suicide, and Life Wasted as they performed them. I was becoming well versed in the new songs. Kerry however, was not. During the new songs, she decided that it was OK to talk, a lot. Now, I’m all for the occasional praising of the concert in the ear, but when I pay to see a live event, I want to hear the songs being played. I don’t want to hear someone talk to me through almost the entire song. Since we were good friends, I was able to forgive her, and we laughed about it later on, but at the time, I was irritated.
Pearl Jam continued to rock our night away. With the tireless energy and passion, they played well past the curfew without caring at all. They were into the night and giving the fans a stellar performance. The first encore included an incredible version of Come Back and then they brought the house down with Alive. Encore 2 was even better, containing a little rarity that I had wanted to hear live for years.
Back in 2003, I saw Pearl Jam play Madison Square Garden for their Riot Act tour. During the encore of that concert, Eddie read some signs that were in the crowd. One of those signs read “play Leash, you pussies!” which got a loud reaction from the crowd. Leash is one of the greatest Pearl Jam songs out there and one that I had never heard live. They did not play Leash that night.
During the encore of this concert, Eddie made mention to that little sign. He said, “The last time we played here, someone had a sign that said play leash, you pussies!” The band then ripped into Leash without hesitation and played a killer version of it. I was in awe. At the end of the number, Eddie stepped up to the microphone and bellowed, “Pussies no more!”
And the band still wasn’t done. Baba O’Reily came next and at the end of their superb cover of The Who’s classic, the house lights went on. Pearl Jam still wasn’t finished. With the lights shining bright, they closed the night with a phenomenal Indifference. Seeing the band play this ballad with the house lights on and being able to see the entire sold out crowd was quite an awesome experience.
Once again, Pearl Jam was a magnificent, entertaining act, giving their all for their fans, and never selling them short. It was another incredible performance to add to their illustrious history. It was also the last time that I saw them live. I hope that changes in the near future, but even if it was the last Pearl Jam concert I ever saw, it would be the perfect swan song.
World Wide Suicide
Do The Evolution
Marker In The Sand
Given To Fly
Not For You
Man Of The Hour