"OK, fuckers. Our turn."
Deer Creek, Indianapolis, IN | 17 August 1998
Deer Creek is really out in the middle of nowhere literally situated between cornfields. A hot, muggy day, typical for the Midwest this time of year, and fortunately a cloud cover shields us from the sun. There is no show specific t-shirt (in the style of the poster) for this show, but the soccer shirt is a different color, styled the same but using navy, gray and orange colors rather than the red, black and white from the first leg.
Security "welcomed" us and then proceeded to list off (in a very detailed fashion) the items not permitted, including soap bubbles, binoculars and chains of any type. ("We will cut them off you.") Finally the gates open, tickets are torn and we are hit with the realization that another PJ show is just "around the bend."
Iggy is up first and enthralls us with a riveting performance. We spot Jeff and Stone (he's grinning and mouthing lyrics along with Iggy) and Mike and Eddie at either sides of the stage, absorbed in Iggy's performance. Iggy expends enormous amounts of energy, dancing and writhing about, and calls us "fuckers" frequently. Great stuff and I'd have to say Iggy is the best opening act I've ever experienced at a Pearl Jam show.
Iggy's set ends, the lights come up and the set begins to transform. The crows, candles and mirrorball were already in place and a somewhat pieced together Mr. Pickles is placed atop Mike's amp, but he falls over and the mod-style wig he now wears flops off. He's seen better days. Ousley brings forth each of Mike's guitars and checks them. It seems like the stage prep takes forever and finally we hear the familiar Red Dot song and know the show is imminent.
The shadowed figures pop up from the right side of the stage, they seize their equipment, Ed greets us with "OK fuckers. Our turn" (a nod to Iggy's constant verbiage) and the familiar notes of Long Road sound sweet. Ed's hair is slicked back and he's sporting a black leather jacket (which is removed shortly into the set) and black cargo pants. In fact, everyone seems to be sporting black shirts with the exception of Stone, who is wearing a lavenderish t-shirt. Next they roll through Hail Hail and Brain of J, with Ed spinning around in a dizzying fashion. Last Exit, GTF and Corduroy follow, each song running at a fast pace into the next. Ed starts talking about how sometimes you just have to get out of town but that the best way might not be a tractor but a "mini fast car," adding, "but if a tractor's all you have, go for it" and we get the fast-paced MFC. Then Ed runs to Jeff and then to Stone with an apparent setlist change. We hear a very slow, sinister-sounding verse of Jeremy, like the "new" version but much darker. The lyrics "president spoke in court today" are delivered to us, punctuated by Ed's suggestive hip movements. This very abbreviated version is quite pleasing and that's all we hear of Jeremy tonight.
Immortality follows, with a climactic build up and incredible drumming toward the end. Ed motions to Matt and says simply, "Matt Cameron."
The always pleasing Even Flow is up next, followed by an instrument change and we see Jeff's stand up bass. I'm thinking Daughter, but we get Nothingman, which is dedicated to the people in the back. Lighters are held high certainly an impressive sight. Another total guitar changeout and I hear the first few, slow notes and realize it is Rearviewmirror!!! I had so hoped for this song and we receive it with such intensity that I can barely contain myself. Ed's eyes are rolling back in that "you can only see the whites" sort of way and he includes "swallowed that fucker down." During the quiet interlude/jam, Ed has placed his pick between his lips and he fingerpicks the guitar. Jeff and Ed gather by Matt for the explosive ending and I'm snapping photo after photo with wild abandon. The song ends and security steps up to me and demands the film from my camera and I comply (dammit!). However, I couldn't be too upset since this was my second roll, the first one already safely in my pocket :) .
With Wishlist, we are treated to something new the backdrop becomes a screen for video footage of the familiar white clouds drifting on a blue sky scene from the Yield artwork, creating a subtle, pleasing effect. Ed seems to drop the e-bow on the stage toward the end of the song, and he deliberately places his pick in a fan's hand. I hear the first few notes of In Hiding and my little inside self is cheering and smiling because this was also on my "list of songs desired" for tonight (as was RVM). Ed makes little gestures with his hand, like pulling the plugs and fingering the cracks on the walls at the appropriate parts of the song. It is a wonderful version, leading to the consistently exhilarating Alive. Ed is really having a good time, smiling a lot and seeming to feed off of the crowd, which is totally into the show, and he delivers the "I want to fuck you" line. Toward the end, he steps onto Pete's shoulders and is moved to the front of the stage, bending down and shaking hands with many people, and then moving to each far side of the stage and taking people's hands. It nearly created a panic when he went to Mike's side from people rushing down front in excitement. I really thought this would be the end of the set, but they change guitars again (Mike playing the Les Paul covered with what look like tiny white stickers) and launch into Go, which absolutely smokes!! They take a break at this point, returning to the stage very quickly.
People are holding up numerous signs and Ed is commenting on various ones ... "Oh, we've forgotten that one (Wash) ... we'd need Chris Cornell to do that (Hunger Strike) ... don't know that one (Freebird)." Then he reads one aloud: "Eddie Lewinsky" and says, "I don't know what the fuck that means" ad he flips off the signage. A fan makes it onto the stage and Eric cautiously escorts him off, which Ed jokes, "That's my intern. They don't get paid. They just do it for the experience," eliciting laughter from the crowd. Then he says they are going to try something and they project an image of Clinton speaking onto the backdrop and Ed says that Clinton spoke to the nation on TV earlier in the evening and asks if we want to hear the transcript. He reads parts of Clinton's apology and comments, "I just have one word consensual." This leads to Better Man, probably the largest group singalong of the night (go figure) and the mirrorball drops down. There is a suggestion of the Save it for Later tag (the "don't let me down" part). Ed says, "Well, that one's for Hillary. This one's for you," leading to Daughter. The tag was rather undefined, with the flavour of the MFC tune as an extended outtro, seeming like Ed was trying to decide on a direction to take and then kind of just dwindling down. At the end he says, "There are no stars tonight [the sky is hazy]; they're all in the audience. Give yourself a hand" and the rest of the band applauds the crowd as well.
DTE follows, always intense, and smoke rises from the back of the stage during the "hallelujah" part as a new twist. Ed says something about doing a song by The Who and my heart skips as I'm thinking "Baba" but then he mentions the High Numbers and I realize it's Leaving Here. I had forgotten how well they do this song, Ed's voice sounding particularly silky, and Stone, Ed and then Mike each hitting their brief solos. Ed's guitar frapped out on him at the start of the song and was replaced (not as quickly as he would have liked I think) after he finally set it down on the stage. He advises the crowd to "behave like rock stars, not like the president" and they walk off, waving. The crowd, not having this be the end, become quite loud and the band returns only a minute later to finish up with Yellow Ledbetter, another big group singalong. Mike is playing his incredibly well-worn SRV guitar, with Jeff watching from behind his amp while Stone polishes off his Heineken. At the finish, Matt stands up and throws his drum sticks out and I realize they are headed toward me. They are spinning end over end together and it feels like slow motion ... I'm not believing how far they are traveling and that they are staying together. They hit my show pal, David, and everyone dives on him in a frenzy. His glasses are knocked off and he's cut and bleeding on his face and holding his ribs. He asks me what happened, apparently never seeing the sticks coming toward him. We secure his backpack and get security to fetch medical help he seems more shaken than anything and says he's OK.
Ranking shows is something I cannot do. Each is special to me for different reasons. This was certainly one of the finest I've experienced a great, balanced setlist, a happy, tight band (the particularly smiley Eddie), very few technical blips and a super, fantastic crowd that clearly affected Pearl Jam's performance. I feel sad that this is my final show this year, but I'm so very pleased with the three North American shows I was treated to and I wish everyone could be "as fortunate as me."
[And I'd like to give a shout out to all of the great people at the show ... some old friends and some new ones that we enjoyed chatting with in the parking lot after the show. Special thanks to David and John. Without their help, we wouldn't have had such great seats and we are most grateful for your thoughtfulness. My thoughts are with those continuing on the tour ... be safe and have a great time!]
review and photos copyright © 1998 Jean Bruns