"the waiting drove me mad..."
PJ opens the 1998 North American Tour
Missoula, MT | 20 June 1998
Clear blue skies, lovely sunshine and bright fluffy clouds surrounded this venue, nestled into the mountains of Missoula. Gates opened late, around 6 if I remember correctly, and we entered the venue to the accompaniment of the Tuatara album. I have no intention of going down front, thankyouverymuch, and I don't want to sit in the stands, so we position ourselves dead center at the front of the soundboard.
Goodness took the stage to a packed house at 7:50 pm, Carrie Akre exclaiming, "There are so... many of you!" The crowd surfers start as Goodness plays a great, energetic set. I don't think I've ever seen them play a BAD one! My friends Jeff and Karen show up 15 minutes into the set; we were back at the soundboard, while they went down front. It was too much and they bailed. Three quarters of the way into it, I'm about to lean over and comment to my companions, "Gee, wonder if Mike's gonna come out" when I see a roadie carrying a Flying V and Jason dives for his taping equipment (more on that later) and Carrie says, "We'd like to bring out a friend...Sean Lennon -- no, Mike McCready!" He looks great and we're really psyched now.
During the next song, Jeff and Karen return, chat briefly, and then head off into the crowd. Now, there were three journalists standing in front of us, notepads in hand (and we learned later one was from none other than Rolling Stone! more later). Jeff is wearing the No Code "witchcraft" circle shirt with that setlist on the back; the journalists think it's a REAL setlist from tonight and tear off after him. We crack up big time.
Goodness goes off the stage, and the crew hits the stage, clearing things off and setting up in record time. I think PJ went on around 9pm, I was too busy holding the cell phone up for Jean to hear the first song ("Corduroy") to look at my watch, not to mention the fact that I was freaking out BIG TIME. Okay, I've seen them this year, but it will never matter how many times I will ever see them (and a few weeks ago I finally counted, because someone asked, and for the record this was show #18) -- I'm smiling, I'm ecstatic, I'm on the top of the world, I feel the excitement down to my toes. This is my band and I love them to death. I'm actually crying a little. Eddie's wearing a white jacket-type thing, these snowboarder glasses, and while it's a struggle to see over the woo girls on their boyfriends shoulders and the flying crowd surfers, I can see clearly that they are ALL smiling really big and look great.
"Animal" next, I'm counting down with my hand in the air (one of only a very few people), Eddie's bouncing, the energy's great. "Hail Hail" next, Stone is doing the biggest, most exuberant bounces I think I've ever seen him do, and I think I will love this song until the day I die (and beyond - lol). I'm writing the setlist, I'm bouncing, I'm still smiling. We careen into "Brain of J", a little rough, but they're still on, Mike & Jeff are meeting up and playing together (lots of this from the whole band throughout the entire show - they just seemed so incredibly PSYCHED!). Ed made this new sort of gesture during the "the whole world will be relieved" line, like the outline of a globe. (Okay, hard to explain, but think about it).
They strum a few chords of the next song and my hair stands on end - "IN HIDING"! AUGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGH! And I'm just totally focused, screaming the words, but the journalists in front of me have to ONCE AGAIN ask me what song this is and what album it is from (they did this ALL FUCKING NIGHT until I finally moved up - my notes say, "SHUT UP - THEY ARE PLAYING IN HIDING") -- but it wasn't just them who weren't paying attention, the crowd, which looked really excited and happy and we thought would be paying attention, for the most part seemed like they were there just to be there; they talked loudly through the whole show, they just stood there.
Anyway, Mike played a nice solo, and after this song my friend Andy leans over and says, "I'm a Matt convert now" and I was like - doh! I'd temporarily FORGOTTEN, believe it or not, that it was MATT up there. I mean, I couldn't see too well, but I guess I'd gotten so used to not paying attention to the drumming.
Finally, a few words from our sponsor: "Well, we picked a nice night for music," Eddie says, and he's right: it's cool but not freezing, totally clear, stars and everything, not a raindrop in sight. Jeremy next, every stupid girl in the vicinity climbed on her boyfriend's shoulders, and I didn't even try to go get them down - I mean, it was *Jeremy*. But despite the crowd's apparent enthusiasm for this Big Radio Hit [tm], no one did the "arms raised in a V" gesture and at the end of the song, Eddie turned the microphone toward the crowd for the "whoaaaaaaa" part and NO ONE SANG! C'mon! However, it was a very solid version and Mike and Stone were over on Stone's side, playing off each other.
Eddie: "You know, I was never fortunate or unfortunate enough to go to college... so this is what it's like. All those majoring in Political Science, raise your hands." (I'm scrawling "DTE" as he says this.) "All those majoring in computers... ah, you're all just here to learn how to fuck and you know it!" HUGE cheer, and then, as predicted, an awesome DTE, complete with -- dare I say it? -- a *very* sexy little dance from Eddie. (I know. I know. Eddie Vedder. Trust me on this one; I asked my friend Belinda, the only other grrl present at the after-show dinner, and she agreed enthusiastically.)
Matt plays a little drum riff that I (and the journos in front of me) recognized as "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" by PAUL SIMON, and I'm wracking my brains trying to figure out wtf this could be, when Eddie tells us, "This is a song born in Montana" (me: "Daughter" andy: "I Got Shit") and then as all of us stood there open-mouthed, dumbfounded and SPEECHLESS, they go into "Pilate"!!!!! By this point, Mr. Jason M.W. Brown (inside joke, sorry), whose first PJ show this was, had made his way back and we all have a major freakout, singing the "obeys listens kisses loves" lines to each other, me informing the journalists (yes, they asked AGAIN) that this was only the second time this song had been played live. WOW!
Good ol' "Evenflow" up next, the crowd loves it, even the people in the bleachers are standing and bopping around, and it is here that I kick back and just focus on Mr. Matthew Cameron. I was representing the SG faction tonight, proudly wearing my Badmotorfinger tshirt, and objectively -- he ROCKS. He can play, he holds them together, he just rules. Mr. McCready, by the way, played an awesome solo, very Steve Ray Vaughn influenced, and as they kicked in for the last verse, Eddie JUMPED way up, total Pete Townshend split (minus the guitar) and I am, once again, open-mouthed.
A few guitar strums, and yep, it's "Daughter", girls on shoulders AGAIN, so I just lean back and listen and sing along, waiting for the tag. We get there, the people around me and I look at each other with these quizzical looks, shaking our heads. Eddie's singing "The sun goes down..." (and it was sunset at that point, the stadium just beginning to darken). Now, a little background: The stadium, as previously mentioned, is at the foot of the mountains. There's a hill that overlooks the stadium, that has a big "M" built by the U of M engineering students years ago; it's kind of a tradition for people to climb the hill and watch the football games or concerts from there. There were probably about 300-400 people on the hill for PJ, and Ed could clearly see that from the stage. So we're in the "Daughter" tag zone, waiting, and Eddie asks, "People on the hill, can you hear me?" The stadium cheers. "Stand up and move if you hear this," and they did, and the whole stadium went crazy - I got goosebumps!
The band go into this weird, almost polyrhytmal jam, I'm saying "Habit" to Jason, the other Jason is saying "Wishlist" ("It's time!"), we're all shaking our heads trying to figure it out, and then they slam into "MFC" and it is just INCREDIBLE. It's been fine so far, probably a 7.5 out of 10, but this song was a 10+ if I ever heard one, mostly because of Matt Cameron. My notes say, "MATT KICKS *ASS*"! And I love this song, after "In Hiding" it's my favorite track on Yield, the more I listen to it the more the music and the lyrics just get to me, strike so close to home.
Next up is none other than "Wishlist" and the mirror ball descends to rousing applause from us, girls on the shoulders again, and it's wonderful, a little fast, better than the Letterman version, but no special last verse and no "radio song" last verse either. At this point, I've had it, I can't SEE, I can't take being penned in or interrogated by the journalists any more, and I move up five feet into the crowd. And a good thing too, because I was not prepared for what came next:
The first notes hit and I utterly, completely lost it. My heart stops, I look onstage and it's just Mike and Ed, I literally cannot breathe. My eyes were wide, I'm just totally freaking and looking at Jason and Andy and Jason and pounding people on the back and then Eddie starts singing. The crowd was totally dead, which was a good thing, I could see, I could hear, and I'm just singing along at the top of my lungs, every single ounce of my being completely, totally focused on what was going on on that stage. The first (and only other) time I heard this song (9/29/96), I was standing next to a taping friend and couldn't do a fucking thing - I made up for that in SPADES this time. And I'm crying, I mean, the tears are streaming down my face, fogging up my glasses, emotions just coming out of everywhere, Eddie's voice is so incredibly beautiful (he was in fine voice all night), Mike's guitar work crystalline. I just want to freeze this moment forever, and then the rest of the guys come back, Matt starts that drum beat, I'm just nodding my head, waiting, waiting, waiting and then they KICK IN to the jam and I'm going nuts, my head is shaking, I'm jumping up and down, I just totally and completely lost myself in the music and the moment to an extent that has happened only a few times with PJ so far. They finish, I'm still crying, I'm trying to catch my breath, I am just so fucking joyous. (Later on, at dinner, I asked Jason [who was taping], "How badly did I freak out during 'Present Tense'?" "As badly as I wanted to," he replied.)
Just as I've recovered a little, they charge into "Habit," lights on the crowd, oh man, I know I said this about the ARO.space show but this is a SONG now, it's not a throwaway, it's solid, it rocks, it kicks. The strobes are on, Mikey is wailing like a madman, Matt's just driving the fucking thing. "Speaking as the friend of a Missoulian," was the catch phrase this time. The song finishes, and Eddie says, "You're all famous...I mean, we're all famous, but you are the most famous crank smoking, demoralized degenerates...Well, I always said, if you're gonna be something, be the best." [I had no idea what he was going on about; the reception of Missoula to the show and the influx of PJ fans was mixed at best (I was required to sign a disclaimer when I checked into my hotel saying that I couldn't have any guests in my room! Jesus!), but Andy mentioned later that there is apparently some big Time magazine cover story about the crank epidemic in the Midwest. Could be. This is probably one of those ed-raps that will make a lot of sense later...]
"Given To Fly" next, not as anthemic as I've heard it, but a totally respectable version, with one nice touch, Eddie making this bird-like movement with his hands (like you do to make shadow animals on a wall). "Immortality" follows, absolutely perfect, Mike and Matt once again outshining (heh!) themselves, Stone incredibly intense as well.
And then we're into "Alive," Eddie's voice once again particularly wonderful, the drumming reminding me of the legendary Pink Pop version (yes. it was THAT GOOD). Before the show, someone commented that there was plenty of scaffolding for Eddie to be climbing on tonight, which was quite true, your typical stadium concert setup. So during the solos, Ed's walking around, swinging the microphone, looking like he doesn't know what to do with himself. He heads over towards Mike's side of the stage, looking at the audience in the bleachers. He kinda looks at the lighting rig, looks at the audience - we're screaming and cheering (not all of us for the same reason, however), and grabs onto one of the bars. He hesitates, looks over at the rest of the band, kind of like he was asking, "Well, should I?" But no, no, they just finish off a very intense version of this song, at the end he's balancing the microphone stand upside down. They finish and walk off, end of show, time for first encore.
They come back, and there's this guy onstage with him. We're debating what the fuck this is - I thought it was some guy from the organization to save the bison (see the News section if you don't know what I'm talking about), but Jason or Mike said, no, it looks like a fan. So Eddie says, "This guy here was right down front with a sign that kind of caught our attention, so I'm going to turn the mic over to him," and asked us to be quiet. So this guy totally works it, is really excited, says that Pearl Jam are just the best, and that he has a ring in his pocket (and we are all getting a little teary-eyed, knowing what's coming now) and basically proposed to his girlfriend (Eddie: "She's way in the back... he spent so much on the ring he couldn't afford a better ticket"), Eddie asked us to applaud them, and then they went into the song that this guy requested, "Betterman." (Okay. I don't have to tell you if you're reading this page that this is NOT exactly the appropriate song, but it was nice of them to play his request, considering that when Eddie first walked out onstage he was playing a few notes of none other than "Hard to Imagine"!!!!!!!!!!)
Next is "Black," and this version was incredible. It's not one of my all-time favorites (as you know by now), but I got goosebumps, it was just incredible and Mike was once again outstanding...Eddie's head rolling back like he was as into it as we were, whispering "we belong together" at the end.
Stone comes up to the mic and says, "We're gonna play a few more," we yell "MANKIND!" and start the "Stoney, Stoney" chant only for them to go into "State of Love and Trust" which was just fine with us. For me, it was a treat to hear this song played the way it should be, the drums driving it like it was written, and -- yeah, yeah. McCready. I know. You're tired of hearing it by now. =)
And then there are those opening chords to "Once," I am screeching at the top of my lungs and once again, another rocker played tight, intense, sharp, the band totally into it, Mike and Stone doing matching bounces on the opposite sides of the stage. (And one more time, I'll just say it: Matt Cameron. You'll see.)
End first encore. We know they have to come back, they can't end with "Once," and then there they are, back again. "It's fucking raining, isn't it," Stone says, and then Jeff takes the mic, thanks his mother and father, wishes his dad happy father's day, thanks someone named "Truckston" (sp?) for getting the show together. Ed thanks Matt Cameron rather pointedly, and then yep, you guessed it, "Yellow Ledbetter", the spotlight on Mike, who ended the solo with a very "Baba O'Riley"-like riff (apparently similar to the version he did at the first TFC).
And that's it. I phone the setlist in to Jean (the journalists blatantly eavesdropping and checking their notes as I read it out - 5h better fucking well get a CREDIT, thank you!) We struggle to the merchandise stand, limp out of the venue, back to the hotel and wait for everyone else before we go eat and relive it all over again.
Usually, when I get home from a long trip, I'm really happy to be back, I love seeing the Seattle skyline in the distance, whether on the road or in a plane. Tonight when we came across I-90 and saw that skyline, all I felt was wistful and kinda sad, jealous as hell of the people going on to Utah for the next night's show. While it wasn't the most incredible show I've ever seen, it was still wonderful with incredible moments mixed in, the band are in great spirits and sound fantastic, and it's only gonna get better as the tour goes on.
I'm way tired, so this probably isn't the best review I've ever written, but wanted to get it up before I crash completely.
#$%@ TAPING POLICY: Or rather, let's make that NO TAPING policy. Despite what we've been told, despite what the Rumor Pit told us all to do, tapers were told, BY THE PROMOTER, that PJ themselves said "no taping this tour". Nevermind that we weren't allowed to bring anything into the venue except our ticket and a jacket (they were giving people shit about PENS and I had to lie to get my cellphone in), nevermind that Jason set up at the soundboard and no one looked at him twice (after going through hell getting it in).
If you are a taper, we'd urge you to write the Ten Club and the Rumor Pit NOW and ask as politely as you can what the final status is for taping on this tour and that the band's organization PLEASE take a few minutes to communicate it to the venues and the promoter, because what they told us to do is not working effectively.
tour journal: I know lots of you like reading my usual reviews where I talk about the whole trip. I also know that lots of you don't (lol). There are so many shows this summer that in the interests of brevity, I'm going to limit reviews on 5h to just that - a review of the show. However, if you like reading that stuff, you might want to check out my my online tour journal.
Copyright © 1998 Caryn Rose
Photo © The Missoulian