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"New Mexico seems like a great place to get away"
Tingley Coliseum, Albuquerque, NM | 7 July 1998
review by Cathy LaVenia
In the March Madness of PJ ticket frenzy, I figured New Mexico would be a fun destination for the 4th of July weekend in addition to an attainable ticket compared to Chicago earlier in the week. Of course, Seattle in March, one doesn't think about July weather for New Mexico. It just sounded so good. It turned out it was! After Maui, I seem to have developed this habit of going on vacation and seeing Pearl Jam.

I chalked up 1000 miles on the rental car visiting parks, pueblos and monuments from Chimayo to the Smokey Bear museum to the White Sands Monument. Finally, it was time to chill and get in the mind set for Tuesday night. I wasn't sure what to expect. The local radio station had been giving away tickets "EVERY 107 MINUTES" since I got in on Friday the 3rd. Yeah, that's a lot of freakin' tickets. I also had in mind "fairgrounds," so I'm thinking outdoors. You know, ride the Matterhorn during "Blood" or something.

But hello, coliseums are enclosed and it was hot as an oven in there. I loved the stage set - the five white candles in 6ft Eiffel tower - like holders and the off white back drop. I was pleasantly surprised by Spacehog's set. I thought they did a good job. You know it's gotta be daunting as hell to open for Pearl Jam. Before the last song, the singer said, "Are you all here to see Pearl Jam? I just saw them in the back and it would be a shame if you didn't want to see them." Of course the crowd went crazy.

Spacehog was off at 8:05 and by 8:40 on came the band of the evening. I kinda prefer a quiet opener like Release or Long Road, but the band has been jumping right into it which they did with Brain of J and Hail, Hail. Following those two heavy hitters, the band goes into Corduroy, Eddie's on guitar now and Stone is just bouncing and dancing in a big circle in front of Matt.

The frenzy whips up another notch with Rearviewmirror. I thought Matt was just kicking it on the drums. He was great. From there we hear Given to Fly, Ed takes a drink from a bright green cup and toasted the crowd. Mike was doing a crisscross jumping jack think during their song. By the end of the song, it's time for Stone to wipe his glasses off.

They start up Dissident, which is always great to hear. Stone dances backwards in a circle movement.

For the Spin the Black Circle chorus, Ed twirls a tambourine on the mic stand.

During Faithfull, Ed takes the time to talk to security and points at someone down front. It looked like he was having them removed, not helping someone out like I've seen him do before. He made motions like "you - outta here".

Next, Stone gets a spotlight and they go into Alive. Ed dedicates it to the first 10ft of people on the floor. He says that they have his respect for staying alive down there tonight.

For MFC, Ed says that New Mexico seems like a great place to get away. After Habit (no intro/improv that I remember), he takes another swig from the green mug and jokes about drinking hot tea because it's freezing.

They go into Wishlist and a few lighters come out and the big mirror ball is spinning by the second verse. Stone's guitar problems begin Ed flubs the last verve by repeating "pedal brake" instead of "verb to trust". As Stone and the tech are working out the guitar situation, they play an unrecognizable song along with the chorus to Crazy Mary. As they go into Nothingman, I'm thinking, "Great the 'Man' trilogy". After Nothingman, though, Eddie shh's the crowd. He didn't have a guitar (no Betterman) and Stone didn't pick up a tambourine (no Leatherman). They launch into Jeremy and the place erupts. After fixing one guitar problem, Stone breaks a string on this one! The stage and coliseum are bathed in red light. It's kinda eery given the subject of the song.

With Do the Evolution, the whole place is dancing. Jeff and Ed jump in sync. Afterwards, he tells the crowd on the floor that they have been the best on the tour.

Better Man and Black finish the set up. Mike's solo is awesome. Ed goes down into the crowd - just a little bit and he walks along a runway to the sides of the stage spraying water into the crowd.

For the encore, Mike comes back onstage shirtless and they launch into Last Exit. Stone has guitar problems again and sings his guitar part. He apologizes for the problems and says something like they're going to play for real now. Even Flow kicks in with Mike in fantastic form and Jeff doing his jumps. After Daughter, we're treated to two Neil Young songs, "Fucking Up" with Mike on backing vocals, which I'd never seen before, and "Rockin' in the Free World". The lights are up and it gave the place a family type mood. We were all equal with the lights up. Not a crowd in the dark watching five guys up on a stage. Mike did a lap around the stage during Rockin' in the Free World with Stone looking on smiling.

Ed pointed to a 12ft banner for Yellow Ledbetter and says, "You're gonna get one more song." He and Jeff sit on monitors, Stone's off to the side marching in place and Mikes goes into Yellow Ledbetter.

The show was fabulous. They are so on and in such a happy place these days. After reading everyone's reports so far, it was great to finally catch up with them on the first leg of this tour.