Oh what an amazing day! I was finally going to go see Pearl Jam. I have always wanted to but always came up short getting tickets. This time was different. I finally got tickets and was on my way to Columbus on Tuesday morning with my sister, Lisa, and my brother-in-law Adam.
We decided to drive down and spend the day because we were coming from Cleveland. At some point we had to meet my brother Stephen as he was going with us. He like me, had never seen Pearl Jam but always wanted to. Well today was our day.
Lisa, Adam, and I walked around Columbus and then met up with Stephen at the hotel around 3. We hung around the hotel listening to Pearl Jam until we were ready to head down to Polaris.
When we got there around 6 or 7 the parking lot was already getting full. Everyone was partying and just having a good time. We could hear Sonic Youth playing from where we were. They really didn't play that bad of a set. I am not the biggest Sonic Youth fan but they weren't that bad. After they were almost finished playing, we headed in.
Once we were in we noticed that the lawn was really filling up so we tried to find a spot out there. We found a half way decent area. It was kind of higher up and on Mikey's side which just OK with me! Its seemed to take a while but once I heard "Baba O'Riley" start to play, I knew it was time.
The lights went out and they came out blaring "Breakerfall." This song rocked. Ed's voice was really on and so was the rest of the band. It was a solid opener. We had no complaints. After it was over, we started to walk down. It was a good move. We got all the way up to the front of the lawn with no problem. The sound was much better up there too.
I was shocked to hear "Whipping." They played with a little stop-start at the end of it. I was not expecting that one. Next up was "Spin the Black Circle" and I wasn't ready for that one just yet. But it worked and sounded good. "Hail Hail" followed as the band had not stopped to take a breather yet.
Now it was time for "Corduroy." My sister and I both wanted to hear it, and I knew it would come at some point. The band was had full momentum now and were just rocking. Ed changed the lyrics during the second verse. I couldn't really tell what it was. It was good and Mike's solo at the end was a good one. Now this was a huge surprise. The next thing I hear after "Corduroy" is "In My Tree." The crowd gives a really surprised reaction and cheers. I thought this was a song that only Jack could make but Matt did it just as well. He truly is a part of this band. They did a great version of it.
The first notes to "Dissident" start playing and it's another surprise. Now I know a lot of people aren't big fans of this song, but I am, and the crowd gave it a good response. It was very good. Ed is really on tonight and so is Mike. At this point they still have not stopped playing. After that came "Given To Fly." Finally Ed says "Hello Columbus" and they take a little breather. He talks a little and tells us that "that is in fact Mike McCready" and that the next song is called "Nothing As It Seems." Mike's haunting solos really make this song. Everyone in the crowd has the lighters out for this one. This song has such a different feeling live. A very cool moment.
Now they kick into "Grievance" and they're just rocking. Everyone is in the background saying how good this show is. Now Matt is playing the opening to "Light Years" and the crowd is loving this one. Everyone is singing along. A great song.
"Daughter" has a very nice tag on the end of it with "Hold On." The crowd likes this sing-along. It was definitely a crowd pleaser. The guy next to me called someone on his cell phone and got this moment for them. He then said that the other person on the phone said that it was an awesome show. After "Daughter" Ed says "here is another sing-along" and they burst into "Lukin." Ed tells the crowd that it feels good to be playing in front of a bunch of intellectuals (I especially liked that.)
Now comes "Wishlist" and "Off He Goes." They dropped the whole last verse to "Wishlist" and when Ed sings the 'quarter to ten' line its just about a quarter to ten. Now comes one of the more memorable moments of the night for me. Ed starts playing this little riff on the guitar. I didn't know what it was but it sounded familiar. Then he plays the opening to "Better Man." The crowd goes wild. This might have been the biggest sing-along of the night (besides the "Daughter" tag). It almost looks as if Eddie is going to do this one by himself and then the rest of the band kicks in and finishes it. This was one of the better ones of the night.
A surprising "State of Love and Trust" comes next. Now perhaps one of the best songs on the new album "Insignificance" is played. They were just having a blast playing this song. One of the best moments is when Eddie sings "Turn the jukebox up he said..dancing in irreverence...play C3, let the song protest"...STOP...lights out, and then they burst into playing it again. Now they go into "Rearviewmirror" and the crowd is loving it. They played the long jam together as everyone crowded around Matt. It turns out that was the last of the set. During one of these songs I noticed that someone threw a shirt on stage. I knew that couldn't be it.
About a couple minutes later Ed walks out and says "Jesus Christ, they are enough people here to make a revolution." Then he held up the shirt that I saw someone throw up there. Low and behold it said "MCCREADY FOR PRESIDENT." Now I knew he was going to have some fun with this. He went on to say that "I don't really feel comfortable with having a president who knows all the songs to Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. We'll have to put touring on hold for the country's needs, but what the fuck?" Then someone had a Ralph Nader shirt and he said that "That's more realistic...it would be great if everyone voted; if you don't vote, you don't have the right to bitch. Politics and beer, a great combination. Speaking of the president election, Mike and I are going to play this one together, for those on the edge of a losing streak, here's some presidential advice for you." Now I look over at my brother and I say its going to be "Present Tense." Sure enough Mike and Eddie go into "Present Tense." This is the song my brother and I wanted to hear. Mike is really getting into this one during the chorus. My brother and I are telling each other our favorite parts of the song. They play this one together for a while and then Stone joins in with an acoustic guitar. I could feel the chills going down my back. Then the whole band joins in for the jam. This was an incredible moment.
"Last Exit" was next and I loved the fact that they were playing a lot of Vitalogy songs. Again I was shocked to hear "Once" which was a great song. Now Ed picks up his guitar and starts talking again. He starts telling the crowd "We're going to be in New York next and this is a song we are not going to be playing there." So then they go into "Elderly Woman."
"Leatherman" was up next and no one knew what this song was. I did hear good reviews from it though. "Nothingman" was another crowd pleaser and a great song. Before we knew it they were playing "Porch." This was only the second song off of Ten that they played. None-the-less Mike had a great solo and while he was playing Eddie put him on his shoulders and carried him around. He was really animated during this song. Once it was over they left the stage. Now I knew it couldn't end yet. I had a feeling.
So then they walk out back on the stage. Ed addresses the crowd that they are going to play a "couple more." After that they go into "Last Kiss." Surprisingly the crowd loved it and so did I. Everyone was singing along and it was a lot of fun. And it was time. All the lights come on and Mike starts playing the opening to "Yellow Ledbetter" and I couldn't be more happier. I wanted to hear them close with it so bad. Everyone was having a great time to this song. They crowd was trying to sing along and just having a blast. I noticed Jeff was sitting down next to the drum set. Mike put a great solo on this one. Eddie finished the singing at the break and they all stopped except for Mike. This gave me chills again. I couldn't have been having a better time. Mike is playing the ending and the spot light is on him. He put some Van Halen into it and some Black Sabbath. Once he finished it the crowd went crazy. He threw his pick into the crowd and it was over. It was kind of bittersweet. I wanted to hear it so bad but I didn't want it to end. But it was over.
I didn't want it to but the night came to an end. After the show we went and got something to eat and went back to the hotel. They played such an awesome show that night. It couldn't have been better. I can't wait until the next time they come back. Thanks guys. Later.
© 2000 Chris Kovach
photo © Jon Kovalcik