My flight from Missoula was slightly late arriving in Salt Lake City, about 3:40pm. No way I'll make it to soundcheck tonight! We are soon on our way up the mountain, with a quick stop for some water. The drive up to Park City is scenic and traffic is light. We breeze into the parking lot that is closest to the venue and begin to stroll around. We chat a bit with various friends from the previous evening and Barb makes her purchases at the souvenir stand outside the gates. Most of the same tour stuff as in Missoula, though I believe prices were higher on one or two items, but I could be mistaken. New tee shirt for $20, white tee with a Neanderthal (sp?) man on the front and the stages of evolution on the back. Cool shirt, but I already bought too much stuff the night before so I manage to pass, with twinges of trepidation. No thermals left btw. (Sorry Doris!) I passed on the poster too, it seems too drab, with only the band name and the venue info taking up most of the already small poster and just a little devil caricature with a pitchfork in the lower right corner. Hmmm? Significance? uh, in Utah PJ is seen as the devil? Barb tells me that the local press has been bad mouthing the band at every chance so maybe this is their tongue in cheek response. btw, reports that this was a 4000 seat venue that PJ couldn't sell out were extremely wrong. The reserved section is 4000 seats, the lawn holds another 8000 and from the looks of it they sold the place out completely!
The setting is an amphitheater nestled between the hills of a ski resort. The roads and parking lot are not paved, neither are the grounds of the venue. We clomp around through dirt, mud and unstable rocky hillside paths that we are forced to climb to get to the gates. Thank goodness I was wearing my "moshpit" boots, but I actually saw several young girls trying to maneuver these treacherous paths wearing those ultra fashionable and ultra stupid IMO (child of the 70's that I am) platform sandals! Ah, the follies of youth. Twist an ankle or two chickie and you'll give up the dangerous shoes for something comfy and functional. The venue will not allow blankets and discarded blankets line the paths. We are put into a single file line that wraps around like the line for Indiana Jones at Disneyland. This would be okay if there were some purpose to it, but when we reach the end we are in an open area that is just a free for all, where we have to crowd around and vie for position for the privilege of being patted down by the six security people. They only check me and Barb from the knees down (??) so the camera is in. (YES!) Then we have to climb up to another set of about a dozen gates, separated for reserved and lawn. This again makes no sense, because as soon as you go through these gates both sections merge again. Silly process overall. Barb and I can't wait to see our seats (5th row! bless you Ten Club!) and we are pleased to see many friends in the same area. The seats are awesome. Best I've ever had!
We have another beautiful sunny day, even though the forecast had been for showers. Beautiful blue skies, puffy white clouds and lush green hills. It was pretty warm while the sun was up but cooled down quickly once it set, which once again was right about the time that PJ took the stage. When we arrived PJ's road crew was still setting up the stage, things looked quite hectic up there and they all looked somewhat tired. They had worked all night taking the set down in Missoula, then drove all the way to SLC and set up the stage there. I hope these guys get paid well!
Goodness came on around 7:30pm, and delivered another bouncy happy set. The sound was a bit uneven at first, we could hear the instruments just fine but couldn't make out a word the singer was singing, she was obviously straining to be heard. This got better as the set progressed but was still a problem on the really loud numbers. As with the night before, they were all happy to be there. Barb told me that they had played a dive bar in SLC not so long ago and the singer (sorry, can't remember her name) made reference to the fact that the last time they played SLC only about ten people were in the audience. The crowd was enthusiastic and greeted Goodness with hoots and whistles. Even with the sun directly in her eyes the singer was able to pick out a couple of the louder fans in the crowd and dubbed them as her "two friends". Everyone around me really enjoyed their set and I was glad they were made welcome. People can be such shits to opening bands sometimes.
Mike McCready had been on the sidelines through the entire set, taking pictures of the band, chatting with Matt Cameron and the roadies and just basically digging on the music. He came out and joined Goodness for their next to the last song. He donned the infamous Flying V and had a good ole time trading riffs with the two guitarists from Goodness. After that he retreated to the sidelines and Goodness went into their finale, a rocking number that the night before in Missoula had caused many friends to have to abandon the pit. But no moshing in the reserved seats this night, just people smiling and dancing and having a good time. We were there for the music, not to hurt or be hurt. Great start to a great night. Goodness finished about 8:30pm.
PJ came on just before nine. I have waited six years to hear one particular song live and I had a feeling this was the night, being Father's Day and all. I totally freaked when I heard the opening chords...
What can I say? It was everything I had hoped for and more. I was totally "verklempt". Ed looked a bit moved himself. The look on his face, at times I thought he was near tears. This made me even more emotional, but somehow the tears stayed within. Guess they've been there too long to be "Released", or maybe I was just too happy to be there listening to the song that summed up so many emotions for me. Listening to the tape now, here in the safety of my own livingroom, I'm a freakin' fountain!
Wait, lemme rewind and get a more balanced perspective... Guitars soft and yet powerful. Matt hits the cymbals like my tears falling and the beat of the drum is like a knife into my heart. Ed's voice is powerful, cutting deep into your soul. "I'll ride the wave where it takes meeeeee... I'll hold the pain, release meeeeeeeee" [choke, sob, sniff] Barb and I had been worried because many singers have trouble with the altitude and Ed's voice had been cracking the night before in Missoula. I had seen him hold his throat several times. But not tonight. He's strong and clear! The people around me are beyond psyched. It's all fan club members so we're all true fans, not just those who want to be seen or go to a PJ concert just to say they've gone. Throughout the entire night everyone around me sang along to every song and knew all the words. True PJ bonding at it's best. Ed practically trembles at the end of the song. The pain on his face, either he's a good actor or it seems to really touch him, especially on this day. But he has a show to do.... Gotta shake it off...
With a vengeance!! They slam into this song as if their very lives depended on it. Matt is beating the **** out of that drum kit. They're all bouncing around the stage. During the solos Ed dances like a boxer psyching out his opponent. Float like a butterfly sting like a bee! He's on his toes, he's bobbing, he's weaving. Stone is jumping up and down and Jeff is all over the stage! Mike is all over his little corner. Matt is killing me! Ed does a couple of Pete Townshend scissor kicks in the air and dances his butt off in between verses.
Brain of J:
I'm so enthralled with the show that the guy behind me has to remind me to write down the song title for the setlist! I hand him the pen and paper and I keep dancing! The energy is just to much to bear. I'm smiling from ear to ear.
Everyone around me is singing at the top of their lungs and dancing their asses off. The guys next to me start banging on the aluminum seats in time to Matt's drumming. "Three days, not a fucking minute longer, shed my skin at last!" Stoney comes to the front and solos and the crowd goes insane. Everyone around me has been writing down setlists and knows every word of the song but they can't remember it's name! LOL "Three days???" No, that's not it. Everyone is too emotional and even Barb and I draw a blank. Then I start shouting "Last Exit, Last Exit"... everyone writes hurriedly and then continues dancing. Too funny. Mass amnesia brought on by joyful hysteria!
Ed thanks the crowd.
OMYGOSH, one great underplayed song after another. Ed belts out the words and everyone around me is right there with him. He speaks the "Big big waves" line then wails into "I'll decide, take the dive, take my time, not my life" The energy is washing over me and everyone around, big big waves of joy. Ed dances by himself during the solos. Nice moves for a white boy! ;o)
EV: "So uh, we're very aware that when you came in to this.. nice.. spot here tonight you were herded like cattle" (the crowd hoots) "ideally that's.. not.. what you'd like to see but anyways I hope you're comfortable, I'm glad everyone made it and I'm glad that the sun's.. uh.. worked in our favor today.. for any of you who were out here the last time we tried to do this in this very same spot... well, we admire your persistence in coming back and trying us again" people in the crowd are screaming "Thank YOU, thank YOU".
Everyone is singing and jumping up and down, on stage and off. They belt out the "Everything has chains" part. It's a mass ocean of happy people but no moshing, just dancing and singing and having the time of our lives! Very cool in the seats. I understand the lawn area was treacherous though. Glad Barb has kept up her membership! (a million thanks Barb!) Mikey wails on the guitar, Matt is torturing the drum kit. The wall of sound is almost too much to bear as this is one of my favorite songs. They end it and I think they can't possibly keep this up. Energy energy energy. but then....... "one... two... one two three four..."
From the opening riff the crowd is elated. Then that first drumbeat kicks in and the crowd is in a frenzy again. Heads bobbing, hips shaking, arms flailing... LOVE this song!
The stand up bass comes out and we think it will be Daughter. Instead...
Off He Goes:
Sweet. Touching. Heartfelt. The sun is nearly set and the lighters are out. Audience swaying along. Everyone seems to be in a trance, including Mike during his solo, closed eyes, head tilted upward towards the sky. Ed slow dances by himself during the instrumentals. Beth must be one lucky gal... it's a sexy move and most of the gals in my area turn and look at each other, filled with heavy sighs.
EV: "Hey tough luck on that basketball game by the way" the crowd takes the teasing well and laughs along.
Ed's voice is in top form. The crowd is there for every word. Matt is all over the kit, the snares, the bass, the cymbals. "I'm ready to **** you" Ed says with a twisted look on his face. He's flailing around the stage, barely makes it back to the mike a couple of times. During the song the guy behind me throws his Utah Jazz shirt onstage. During the solos Ed picks it up and looks at it, laughs. Then he pretends to blow his nose in it and throws it back into the crowd. LMFAO, the guy behind me is happy as all heck but now wants his snotty shirt back, heehee He never got it! They end like there's no tomorrow and Ed says "Thank you good night" with a twinkle in his eye. I think it was Stone who yells "Bullshit"
Ed: "I like this one..."
Given to Fly:
Ed emotes a lot with his hands for this one.... Wave came crashing... Arms wide open... Flying... he dances his little Mohammed Ali dance along to Matt's drums during the interlude... the sounds that come out of that scrawny body just amaze me over and over again. Fantastic. Uplifting. Flying.
Ed picks up the guitar and starts strumming a familiar riff. Could it be, or is he just teasing as he speaks to the crowd? "All right this next song...is dedicated to the uh people up in the.. up in the top... (he gestures to the lawn area)... first of all we should give them a hand because they... they paid 20 bucks and they have to be up there.... (the crowd up top screams at the recognition)... by the way I like your version of sky boxes I think those are kinda cool too" (he gestures to the ski lifts that hang overhead)... "probably expensive... I can't see that far... (he addresses the lawn again)... but apparently you guys are hurting each other up top... we can't see it from down here but... we're thinking about ya, be careful... what more can I say... except this...
All Those Yesterdays:
For the opening verse he comically and dramatically sees how deep he can take his voice. What a goofball!! He ain't no Barry White but he makes a good go of it. "What are ya running from..." he looks up to the lawn area for this entire stanza... "all those paper plates" is replaced by "that old mosh pit phase..." He sings "use your mind to escape" and Mike wails on the guitar, facing the sky again, eyes closed. Stone is dancing in place. Fantabulous live song. When it ends Stone says: "I think that's the first time we've played that one live".
The stand up bass is out again...
The entire crowd sings along. Jeff rules this song... and something about having very large "manly" men all around me singing "don't call me daughter" strikes me as funny yet touching. The smile is permanently glued to my face. Luckily Jake, who's taken over the setlist tracking duties, pays more attention than I do and during the jam hears Ed sing "go away.. go away little girl.... go away... go away... go away... go away..."
Time to RAWK
Volcanic. Everyone is jumping, dancing, singing. The guitars wail. Stone comes to the front a couple of times again, his eyes are closed. Same with Mike on the solo, amazing, the guitar cries out.... Jeff and Matt play off each other spectacularly... what a great match! This song cannot possibly be overplayed and they seem to still enjoy performing it.
EV: "This is an old one, this next number... this is.. this is... this is so old it's like from before we were a band.. I think Matt Cameron who's playing drums tonight played drums on the original one, Matt... and it's called Footsteps"
I'm continuously surprised to find that everyone around me knows the words...they all gesture during the "scratches all over my arms part"... like one big chicken pox infestation LOL! Surreal. The guitar solo is tender, the drums are crashing... "Footsteps in the hall, it was you... you..."
I Got Shit (id): Opening chords and everyone around me asks if it's "I Got id"? They are gleeful to find it is. We sway to the music. Matt is all over the drum kit. "I got questions I don't know who the **** I can ask" "If just once I could feel love, oh stare back at me" he sings: "I take a vow, only (something I can't make out, "felt it"?) only now"
They pause between songs and Ed strums the guitar a bit. I scream out "REARVIEWMIRROR" and lo and behold...
We're all jumping around and the energy is intoxicating!! The cymbals are crashing like waves to the shore... Ed uses a slide and does an eerie solo, another Pete Townshend moment ala Baba O'Riley... the three guitars all in different directions and yet molding perfectly... and the bass... oh, that bass.... it heightens the anticipation of what's coming.. it's the sound of the broken white lines on the highway as you tear down the road in a quest for freedom... then the crash... the crash of music and noise and liberation... "saw things, saw things, saw things... CLEARER... I gather speed... so you fucking with me?" (spoken ala DeNiro in Taxi Driver: "You talkin' ta me?") During the crescendo Ed wants to see the crowd, "Turn up the yellow light!" During the song a roadie in a Rodman jersey comes out wearing a creepy bird mask with sunglasses. He walks over to Ed, looks at the crowd and then walks off again. Weird. At the end of the song Stone is standing right in front of me, and where I always thought they sang "once you.. once you" he is definitely singing "Want to... want to" I could listen to this song over and over, all day long. Riveting.
End of the set. Ed thanks everyone and they walk off. The crowd starts banging on the aluminum seats again and screaming their lungs out. Shortly they come back out, Matt and Ed first. Ed jumps over the amps on Jeff and Mike's side and sneaks up on a roadie who is crouched in front of his mike. Ed grabs the guys shoulders like he's gonna jump on him and the guy is startled, which amuses everyone. Matt goes into the "50 ways to leave your lover" riff again. The crowd is screaming song requests. Ed says, "Hey thanks a lot, from all of us.. uh..... we're uh... ya know we haven't spent that much time here, the last time we came we were kinda in and out.. uh, in out in out in out.. and uh.. so I still haven't figured out... we were still wondering... we were on the plane today in we were still trying to figure out who this guy Norman is.." the crowd all looks at each other like "what's he talking about".. he realizes we're clueless and goes on... "or that all you.. like what's your name?" he asks a couple of people in the crowd their names.. everyone starts yelling names at him... "I was just told there was a bunch of Normans here and I never knew what they were talking about" [groan, heehee] "and Dennis Rodman wanted us to tell you all to **** off too" the crowd takes it well, laughing at the dumb jokes... it's comedy night at the PJ show... "ya know, a baby is born every eight seconds... that means that during Rearviewmirror there's 30... 60... 4 new kids on earth and I think 60 of em are here in Utah!"
Do the Evolution:
The opening wail would do Little Richard proud. They slam into it. Ed dances on his toes in a shortstop's position during the instrumentals... they are all hyped and bouncing around with glee... someone throws a shirt onstage and it snags on the tip of Jeff's bass. He starts spinning around with it and it sails but won't come off.. I love the Hallelujah part.... Ed's baritone seems so foreboding along with Stone and Jeff's falsetto's. The guitar solos crank!! The crowd screams the tag line "It's evolution BABEEEEE" Slam right into...
I'm near exhaustion but the adrenaline is sky high and everyone is energized. During the awe inspiring guitar solo Ed turns slightly away from the audience and dramatically pretends to unzip his fly and pee! LOL "Don't go on ME!" Mikes eyes closed again as the song comes to a crashing crest of a finish.
The mirrorball is dropped from the rafters and the lights reflecting on it look like bubbles shining on the stage and the surrounding mountains.
All hands around me are upraised and open towards the sky at the appropriate moment. Ed screws up the second verse, gestures like "oops" and says, surprised "I forgot the words!" During the "full moon on your camero's hood" part the spotlight on the mirrorball causes a full moon during an eclipse effect on the stage backdrop. Looks cool. The song comes to the teasing pause and then "I wish I was a betterman, then (something I couldn't make out "than I am"?) When it's over Ed says, "All right, once again, thanks a lot, have a nice life"
Betterman/Save It For Later:
Lighters are out, everyone sings along... loudly. When the song hits it's height the crowd is dancing like mad... "help me now, don't run away run away or let me down, run away run away run away run away run away..." As it reaches the end "hey we owe a lot to you for making it a great show, thanks a lot" and they leave the stage once again. More crowd screaming, chanting, banging on the aluminum seats and stomping their feet. It can't be over, we won't allow it!
"OK we've got a quick one.. it's called Leaving Here and that's what we're about to do"
Man, he belts out the opening line! The crowd is singing along, especially to the "oh yeah" parts... the guitar riffs do the High Numbers proud, the bass drum is pounding... "baby baby baby, please don't leave here" but after a crashing, pounding, heartstopping wall of sound leave here is exactly what they do. Ed thanks the crowd once more and says good night. And they are gone.
No one wants to leave and it's a good 15 minutes before people start to file out. Turns out there was no point in rushing. The venue management stupidly caused some wicked traffic jams and it took us nearly two hours to get down the hill and on the street towards the highway. But we were on a high, we had an outrageous spectacular evening and passed the hours waiting by reliving the night. I believe this was my fourteenth show and it was one of the best in so many ways. This is going to be one seriously stupendous summer tour!
For those who like to know these things:
My thanks to Jake Shragge from SLC who took notes while I was immersed.
- Stone: Gray cords, Brown crewneck sweater over a white tee shirt. Glasses. Yes, the hair is getting longer! WOOHOO!
- Jeff: Brown knee length shorts and a black tee shirt. No hat.
- Matt: Black tee shirt and faded blue jeans.
- Mike: Tan slacks, brown & tan argyle sweater, dark colored sports jacket early on but it soon came off.
- Ed: Black drawstring pants, black tee shirt, black boat shoe sneakers, no socks, white shirt when they first came out but it came off early.
Copyright © 1998 Caryn Rose