After catching barely a wink of sleep after FINALLY finding my friend's house in Chicago (at which we'd stay the entire weekend---Thanx John!) at 1:30am last night, Josh and I wake up with our ears still ringing from Alpine: Night I. We spend the day talking about last night's show, making our requests for songs to be played tonight, and especially resting. Eddie said at the end of 'Alive' last night that "there's no way we can top this tomorrow night," but I'm well aware of PJ's second night at the same venue history :o) !!
We leave Chicago around 4:15 and encounter many fellow concert-goers on the interstate. We're in the parking lot and taking our last minute calls of nature at 5:30, then off to Night II we go. Tonight we find ourselves two rows in front of the soundboard, dead center of the stage, so we're pretty well elevated, parallel with the famous tower Eddie climbed in '92, so for all of you who have seen that video or were there, you know these seats are pretty darn good (Thanx to Cori for getting the tix!).
Frank Black comes on about the same time as last night, and we get a slightly varied setlist, but I can't seem to get into it as much. I am, however, impressed with the lead guitarist, who reminds me of Krist Novoselic the way he throws his body around aimlessly. Matt can be seen easily from our vantage point, at one time playing the air drums!! Mike and Jeff appear very briefly also, and I just catch a glimpse of a ping-pong game being played behind the curtain.
Before I know it, the Color Red soothes its way throughout the Alpine air, and suddenly they appear. My master plan called for 'Long Road' to be the opener tonight, with 'Release' being saved for Chicago on Monday, and when Eddie strapped on his guitar, I thought I'd get my wish, but instead he begins this bluesy, thick little riff, with Matt and Jeff joining in. "WHAT THE FUCK?!", soon I realize that it's probably 'Intersellar Overdrive' from the AROspace show (I hadn't heard it yet at that point). 'Corduroy' follows, and during the intro, Eddie walks out in front of his mic, just gazing over the crowd (much the same fashion as in Kansas City when 'Corduroy' was the opener). Slightly less powerful than last night, but still just divine. This song is just so Pearl Jam ... it has power, aggression, melody, great lyrics, and an all-out jam of an ending.
Next up is 'Hail Hail', and Stone is feeling it again tonight, bouncing and bobbing his way through the chords. The end of the second verse of 'Hail Hail' features one of my favorite PJ moments; right after "I refer to those in love, yeah", right before they go into the solo, Ed just yells, "SAYYYYITT, SHHEEEEEYAAAAATT!!", and the band just jams into the solo, while Ed dances about. My eyes focus on Mike for the first time tonight as he closes 'Hail Hail', and I'm grateful, because he immediately tears into 'Brain of J'. This version is very tight, with Mike especially into it, smashing his guitar at the end!!...and it's only the third song!!
At this point, Eddie hasn't cut loose yet. He's more sedate than last night, and it's showing. That is, until Matt just ROARS into 'Last Exit.' Totally botched last night, the band ATTACKS it this time, with Eddie finally breaking through and letting his voice go. In the middle, he does the back and forth dance next to Jeff, who hardly notices because his eyes are intently locked on his bass. The end just climaxes, with the "this is, this is" lines bringing the house to a frenzy. At this time we hear from Ed for the first time, with a brief "alright, welcome back." I'm hoping for just one for fast one, but instead Stone starts chopping out 'Tremor Christ', which surprises me because I hadn't given this song much thought lately. Matt's drumming really shines, and Stone's guitar effects are perfect, making for a sweet, if slightly misplaced version.
We're back on track with 'Given to Fly' next, which Alpine just reaches out and grabs tonight. When Ed is done singing the first verse and the band is building up to the chorus, the crowd roar becomes tremendous, and Ed delivers with a perfect vocal performance. Before the second verse, Ed does little hip-swaying dance, which gets the ladies around me quite excited. Rockin' version, with band and audience connecting for the first time. Next, the spotlight finds Jeff, and we're into 'Jeremy'. Personally, I have absolutely no problem with this song, and I love to hear it live, especially when the crowd sings the "whooaaaoooohh's" towards the end. Granted, some versions lack the appropriate intensity, with tonight's no exception (Chicago's, on the other hand, was terribly intense), but 'Jeremy' is still a treat to hear anytime for me.
Ed commends the crowd's singing, and no intensity is lost as Mike starts strumming 'Faithfull'; Ed introduces it as a song about "being careful with your trust." Josh and I aren't quite sure whether to dance, jump up and down, or just stand there and sing along, but is rocks nonetheless. 'Faithfull' wasn't one of my favorites on 'Yield', but after hearing it live (the 3/5/98 radio broadcast was the first time), I've grown to really love it. Ed uses a lot of hand motions during the last verse, including signing M.Y.T.H., and making a box for the "box of fears" line. He seems to be particularly chatty tonight, and introduces 'Nothingman' saying: "This next one's kinda a tough cookie to sing, if ya wanna help me out. It's called ... you might know it." All I can say is W-O-W ... WOW!!!!! I had so hoped to hear this, and immediately I'm happy for Josh because he dearly loves this song. We all help Eddie with the second verse, and goose-bumps fill my body. This was one of those great concert feelings that you'll never get listening to the album or a live recording ... sometimes you just have to BE there to experience it. The lighters are plentiful enough to light the place, giving Keith a well deserved rest, and as Stone winds down the song, I just look at Josh, and he looks back, with nothing needing to be said. This is PEARL JAM!!
Eddie grabs his guitar, and before I gather myself, we're into this slow, beautiful ballad-like song; just Ed with a little Jeff and Matt mixed in. I couldn't understand many words at all, but the feel of the song moved me. I haven't heard any info about it since ... was it an improv?? a cover?? I would love to hear it again sometime! Next up we dive into 'MFC', and its apparent that Eddie loves this song. It's so appropriate for Alpine, because its in the middle of nowhere, so EVERYONE has to drive some distance to get to the show. The jam at the end is once again much, much too short, but my energy needed to be saved, because I'm not ready for whats coming next....'HABIT'!!! Oh Man did this rock!! After reading Caryn's review of the AROspace show, I couldn't believe that Matt could make 'Habit' THAT much better, but I was DEAD-FUCKING-WRONG!! I can't even begin to describe how intense this was. Eddie's just growling out the words; Mike is wailing away, throwing himself all over Stone's side of the stage; Stone is entranced with his guitar, really concentrating on the sound; Jeff is facing Matt, and the two are forming an amazing ground for the guitars to work from. The "speaking as" line is: "speaking as someone who's never worn an orange, styrofoam piece of cheese on his head." The crowd eats this up, and the end of the song brings the house down, with the strobe lights in full force for the last 30 seconds.
Afterward, Ed continues: "Just to reiterate that cheese-head comment ... I didn't mean that as an insult ... I actually have one at home and wear it around the house, and find it to be quite comfortable ... makes me look good and I get chicks!" By now Alpine's crowd is eating directly out of Ed's hands, and he knows it! 'Off He Goes' follows, and once again I'm amazed that a band I've never met can write a song that means so much to me. Josh and I are arm-in-arm again, much like 'Yellow Ledbetter' last night, bathing in the song's beauty, singing "my same old, same old friend," and meaning it, knowing that no matter how far apart we might drift, we'll still be best friends. Next we shift into high gear with 'Even Flow.' Jack: I love ya, but Matt makes 'Even Flow' TWICE as good as it used to be. I LOVE the little two-beat intro he uses to start the song, it allows Stone, Mike, and Jeff to slam into it together. During Mike's solo (which is again amazing), Eddie starts wandering around the edges of the stage, teasing the fans, and when Stone brings the song back into the last chorus, Eddie doesn't make it back in time! Not to fear, because the crowd proves more than capable of filling in, singing the first two lines, until Ed can get back to his mic :o)!! Stone waits a mere second before ripping into the intro to 'Once', which COMPLETELY surprises me! Although some miscommunication takes place during the first verse between Stone and Matt, the song fits into tonight's setlist perfectly. It's so great to get some variation, and this version of 'Once' took absolutely no prisoners.
With the largely casual-fan-populated lawn section now back into things with two straight tracks from 'Ten', the band again surprises the fuck out of me with 'All Those Yesterdays', which again has Josh on cloud nine. This is so beautiful live, it captures you thoughts, not allowing any other thoughts to enter you head. The order of the "all those yesterdays" lines being Ed, then Stone, then Jeff, with Jeff being VERY shy about his vocal solo!! I'm waiting for something fairly standard to come next, but again I'm shocked to hear a ROARING version of 'Go'!!. Example #529 that PJ has to be seen live to be appreciated. 'Go' is so incredibly intense tonight, and Matt again owns the song. The end features Ed head banging all around the stage, spinning on one foot, and I can't imagine what they can play next.
With guitar in hand, Eddie approaches the microphone, and I'm thinking its time for 'Wishlist', and low and behold, he says "be careful what you wish for ... this song's for people who might think they're doing the right thing by wishing they would live forever." Huh??? For the fourth damn song in a row I'm surprised as we get fooled into thinking it's 'Wishlist,' instead getting 'Immortality.' I'm in a trance as the band unwraps the song, peeling away each section one at a time until they're in an all-out JAM led by Matt, each member facing the drum-kit. Immediately, its over, and they're gone ...
After about four or five minutes, Ed leads the band back out, and I'm guessing 'Evolution'. The applause are deafening, prompting Eddie to showcase his Spanish speaking skills: "Gracious, Seniora", leading into ... yep, I FINALLY guess one right ... "it's evolution, baby!!" Great version as always, but nothing, NOTHING, can compare to last night's version, when they opened with it. This might be Stone's favorite song, as evidenced by his active nature, even venturing over towards Jeff a little during the middle. Ed does the most elaborate "monkey" dance I've seen yet, adding another hip-swaying number during the "admire me" lines. As the band jams out the last few seconds, Eddie's grabbing his guitar again, and introduces the next song as, "a little known B-side, (me: 'Leatherman!!!!') but it's still a good dance number." YES!! What a fun song!! I seem to be the only one in the ENTIRE audience who knows what the hell this song is, which disappoints me. I liken tonight's 'Leatherman' to last night's 'Mankind', because they are both fun, poppy songs that simply bring a smile to my face :o)
Before we know it, they're slipping into 'Betterman', completing the trilogy for the night. I could stand to hear something else, like 'Not For You', or 'Leaving Here', but this version of 'Betterman' is saved by a pair of great tags; one which I've never heard before or since, with the words, "I can't take this no more...I gotta go to something more," and the second tag being none other than the last two lines of 'Rearviewmirror'!! How sweet to hear something never done before!! Sadly, only about half the crowd picked up on the 'RVM' tag, but quickly everyone's back into things with 'Wishlist'. Much better version than last night; slower, more precise, and featuring my beloved "radio song" last verse. Ed changes the "fortunate" line to "as fortunate as you." 'Wishlist' is without a doubt one of my favorite songs, and the "radio song" last verse completes it. For tonight's version, I think of my girlfriend during the "pedal brake" line (thanx for being there Jenna), making this one of my favorite songs of Night II.
Before I know it, Stone's crashing into those familiar 'Alive' chords, to which Eddie toasts us for our support. Another great version which can't be recaptured by a recording. Eddie again walks around the front and sides of the stage, flinging wine and grabbing hands of the lucky people down front. The jam is wonderful as always, compliments of Mike, and I am sure we're either done for the night, or at least that they'll leave the stage for a bit. However, the band meets up by Matt and decides to stay out there for one more. Eddie steps to the mic to address us all one last time: "Jesus Christ, what can I say? ... who knew?!!" He continues to tell a story about how Dennis from the Frogs wrote him a letter once, which he turned into a song called 'Smile' (I can't believe I'm gonna get to hear this!!). "He loves fuckin' attention, so he's got a big hard-on right now," continues Ed, but quickly takes it back after seeing Dennis's embarrassment. "The sentiment holds true ... we'll miss you when we leave ... thanks for comin' to both of these shows," and with that we're bounding into 'Smile' ... Jeff on guitar, Stone on bass, everyone having a great time. Stone can't stop smiling, while Jeff has never concentrated so hard on his instrument, he really doesn't want to screw this up!!
The house lights come on for the "I miss you already" lines (again thinking of Jenna), and everyone who has any heart at all is singing along. Another great PJ moment. The song ends, the band leaves, but I can't believe it's over. 'Smile' is a great song, but it's NOT a CLOSER. After what seemed like eternity, the house lights finally come back on, and we know its over. In my opinion, 'Rockin in the Free World' would have been a great end to this evening, as it was in Kansas City. I wasn't even fucking CONSIDERING 'Baba' at this point, but even that wouldn't have fit here, and 'Ledbetter' was a definite "no". This night needed SOMETHING to bring it all together, but the something never came.
All in all, this was another amazing, majestic, beautiful concert. I can't ignore the similarities between Alpine II and Kansas City, but a SLIGHT edge goes to this show. I personally like the first night better, but hell, I was in the third row, so that could have something to do with it. The two Alpine shows were more fun than Chicago, played with a looser vibe, with Chicago gaining the advantage for musicianship and intensity. Alpine is a GREAT place to see a concert...kudos to the folks than manage it.
Standouts: 'Last Exit,' 'GTF,' 'Nothingman,' 'Habit,' 'Wishlist,' and 'Leatherman.' And of course I can't forget 'Smile' ..... I MISS YOU ALREADY!!!!!!!