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"big hand slapped an Austrian"
Residenzplatz, Salzburg, Austria
18 June 2000

Thousands of happy people. Hundreds of people, who never understood what Eddie said. 5 gifted musicians on stage. 4 lovely and friendly girls I met. 3 beer. 2 sandwiches I (only) ate. 1 perfect day to live.

It took me 4 hours to drive to Salzburg. I did my best to arrive early to maybe hear the soundcheck. I guess they didn't do any, or I missed it. (Well, now i know they didn't do any soundcheck.) I also came early to find the Residenzplatz. The Residenzplatz is a city square, which is surrounded by a cafe, a cathedral of some sort, shops and apartment buildings.

There were people all around wearing t-shirts in which Pearl Jam is written, one way or another. There was even this pathetic young girl, writing *pro-choice* on her arm.

It was a very warm day. It was cloudless. Enter beer #1. I've got nothing to do but wait. The crew started letting people in the square by 6:00 P.M.

Around 7:30 P.M. the crowd started cheering and clapping. With beer #3 in hand, I turned toward the stage and I thought to myself *yes*. Mr. Edward Vedder takes the stage.

"... I'll just do this one, and then the band Dismemberment Plan from Washington D.C. will entertain you, until we are ready..."

Then the riffs of Throw Your Arms Around Me started to give me goosepimples. All around me were some hardcore PJ fans and they started to singalong. It was difficult for me at this time not to singalong, too.

Unfortunately, I didn't really have the time to listen to Dismemberment Plan, because I was busy jockeying for position in front of the very few portable potties.

Finally by 8:30 the whole band was on stage. The first thing that caught my eye -- what is Mike wearing? Pyjamas? Well, the pants Mike was wearing were somewhat striped with very bright *happy* colors. Stone was somehow quiet on the right side of the stage, wearing a plain red t-shirt. Mr. Jeff Ament-without-a-hat was standing close to Matt. And Mr. Vedder? Vintage Vedder. He was standing there looking cool and in control.

Then they played Sometimes. It awoke memories of my last Pearl Jam concert. They played Sometimes that time too, as the starting song. I was just standing there during this song. Enjoying it. Not even swaying or singing softly. I looked up to the sky and just saw one big blue sky. I knew then, it would be a perfect day. I promised to myself, I would really enjoy this one.

When I returned to myself, I could hear "... she's her own disease... cryin' to her doll...". Oh, Breakerfall. And within the next 5-6 songs the boys barely paused. They just paused to change instruments. They didn't confer to each other. They were like a well oiled machine. I was quite surprised that Eddie barely said something. I think he didn't even say thank you or anything.

After Breakerfall. Grievance. Corduroy. Animal. God's Dice and State of Love and Trust followed.

Like I said, the band just rocked during this segment of the concert. Before the concert, I had 3 secret wishes. 3 Songs I wished they would play and not play. I wished they would play SoLaT. Thank God they did. I also wished they would not play Last Kiss. Thank God they didn't. The third wish was left unfulfilled. I wished Stone would sing Mankind. I would love to see Stoney sing MANKIND. I am not aware, if he ever sang the song live.

After SoLaT, Ed pauses and waves to the people watching from the rooftops and windows of houses. "...There are 350 people here, who would love to use your bathroom...". (Sorry Ed, i think it was about 3000 *smile*) "...I guess those people up there are watching you guys (meaning the crowd) instead of watching us play..." That made the crowd laugh. Well some asked me the whole time what Ed was talking about. Well, I explained it to them.

Nothing As It Seems followed. I read some reviews how lovely NAIS is to listen to, live. Like Sometimes, i just stood there and tried to feel the song. Is it true, that the song is really a lot cooler, once heard live? Mike made NAIS special. He was very intent during the song.

As always, the crowd-please-song, Alive made everyone singalong. During the solo, Mike was squeezing his body and guitar between 2 speakers and playing the solo. Well if Mike didn't have that Bierbauch, he would be fine *smile* (Just joking Mike).

Then the band played Daughter. Another crowd pleaser. The tag, Another Brick in the Wall, made me smile. It gave me a very happy thought. Eddie would have been the best Principal in school. During the tag, Ed was mumbling "...teacher, leave those kids alone...". The next tag was WMA. Ed sang "... he won the lottery by being born... big hand slapped an AUSTRIAN..."

I am not sure about this, but I thought I heard Ed flub the words to Once, which was the next song.

The next songs, Lukin and Not For You, passed with no problems. It occurred to me that aside from the Ed forgetting the words, the guys barely made a mistake. It also occurred to me, how quiet Stoney was. Ed remarked that Light Years and Leatherman were based on a true story. I had hoped, Ed would tell a story, but he didn't.

After a song sung with Ed and Mike on guitars the next songs Present Tense (always a nice *reflexion* song), Rearviewmirror and Go passed after 10 minutes without any problems.

During a pause, Ed asks the crowd if the moon is somewhere behind the stage. Everyone screamed "Yeah!!!!". "That's comforting to know...", Ed said.

After Go, Monsignor Edward Louis III *smile* blessed the guys on the front row with red wine.

Ed steps up for the encore with a monkey mask on, singing to Do The Evolution. He changed the lyrics to "... I am the first man to shit my pants...".

I knew Ed still had something to say before the concert is over. And this was the time.

I think it is known, that the Austrian Government partnered with a right-wing party. This right-wing party didn't show any appreciation for other cultures. Because of this, a lot of entertainment artists declined to play or cancelled their scheduled concerts etc. as a protest. They protested against this regime.

"It was suggested not to play in Austria for some known reasons..." Ed started. The band didn't see it fit, to punish the other Austrians who didn't vote for the right-wing party (note: which was led by Joerg Haider), and the band finds it unfair to them. Pearl Jam came to use their right to protest. How could one protest anyway, if you are not there? It was clear that Pearl Jam doesn't support the actual government by, as Ed would say and show, "... these are for you, the double F#@K YOU!!!!!!" (Ed raising both arms with the outstretched middle fingers).

That made the crowd go wild. And I knew the next song would be Insignificance. He changed the lyrics again on this one, "... please forgive this town.... in their insignificance..."

Insignificance was followed by Even Flow. Mike came alive again on this one. If Mike had three arms, the third arm would surely always be waving to the crowd. After Even Flow, the band went on a huddle and Jeff was heard asking, "...should we play Betterman?" Not Betterman was played but Wishlist. I think, it was the third time (or so) that I just stood there, enjoying the moment. Close to the end of Wishlist, the band stopped playing, and Ed finished the song (solo) "... I wish, I was the radio song, the one you turned up... I wish I wish I wish I wish... I guess it never STOPS." As I sang quietly to myself, I noticed this lovely girl basically staring at me and come to think of it, smiling at me.

Well, her name was Lisa. I think a very lovely girl. She and her friends were quite cool the whole evening. They were my personal opening band for Pearl Jam.

Then the band eventually played Betterman. The last three songs were slow ones. Elderly Woman, Thin Air and Black. I think Ed changed the lyrics again! on Black, it was something like "... I guess you'd be a beautiful wife... I know you'll be a star in someone else's sky..."

Unfortunately, as I heard Rockin' in the Free World, I knew it was the end. The song rocked. Really. Ed was smashing the tambourine on his head. As a closing note, Ed smashes the mic stand onto the stage. But somehow, the song made me scared. I knew, after the song, the guys on stage would move on to another city. I would have to drive back home (4 hours away). I would not really get to know Lisa and her friends. Everything at the end would just be pictures... memories.... just like the photos Ed took at the end.

Oh. And one last note. I thought, the night would end not so good. The night was really a memorable one. Lisa and her friends just vanished like that. After the concert, I was sitting on a sidewalk and old friends of mine came out of nowhere. I haven't seen them for years. Well, we exchanged phone numbers and promised to call. Then one last surprise, Lisa came walking pass me. I stood up and asked for her phone number *smile*. Maybe I fell in love (again) that night. It was wonderful. See you in Zürich, Pearl Jam.
© Bryan-Jon Orque