warning: this review contains unabashed gushing, emotionalism, and other extreme fan-type behavior. do not read any further if this bothers you.
This show really started at 5:30 am in Phoenix, when four very tired women, having been to Albuquerque and then Phoenix, managed to get themselves to the airport with military precision, bound for Las Vegas. We weren't willing to get the 6am flight (although some poor souls who planned later than we did got stuck on it), but 8am vs. 10am for fan club tickets, this we would do, no matter how tired we would be.
I'm standing in a very very long line at the Starbucks in the airport. VERY long. I reach the register and look down; there are these little Halloween finger puppets on the counter - little impulse items. There's a bat, a witch, and a pumpkin. I decide that this would be something good to amuse me for the next few hours and buy the bat, along with my double Americano.
I come over to my friends, sprawled comatose amongst the chairs, and start being obnoxious with the bat. They are too tired to complain much but it is making them smile. Next, we're on the moving walkway to the gate, and we're talking about how we have six hours in the fucking fan club ticket line (isn't it funny how this year, the one show you shouldn't have to worry about ends up being the one you worry about the most?) and that all fans will be required to take 5 minutes to put on a little show, me starting with the finger puppet.
Yeah, I say, the bat can sing Pearl Jam songs. I clear my throat, and demonstrate:
"You don't give blood... and take it back again"
I sing in what I think is a bat voice, and people start falling down laughing on the moving walkway. (Later on, once we got to Vegas, I had a little medley going on: Blood, Animal, DTE and 'Bats' [Rats changed, doh]. I would now like to apologize publicly to everyone I subjected to this performance. I was *very* tired.)
We reach Vegas, bat puppet in tow, and half our group bolts straight off the plane bound for a cab and the MGM; two of us stay behind to gather the luggage and take it to the hotel. Was it overkill? Yeah, maybe, but we didn't know, and this was the 10th anniversary show, and every few people in line could have meant that many rows further back. For this show, we weren't taking any chances (and neither would anyone else for that matter).
The Ten Club line at the MGM (along with the ticket drop line) became fan meeting central at this show, more than any other show. Probably because so many people were using this show as their fan club ticket, and so many people flew out at the last minute for it. People waited all day in the line who didn't even have tickets, just for the social aspect. Every 15 minutes it seemed you were getting up to hug people who were as tired as you were; either they drove or flew from Phoenix, or they'd gotten in the night before and partied all Saturday night. Cameras flashing, group photos every five minutes, introductions happening constantly. If you got up and walked away you ran into someone else you knew. "Yeah, well, I wasn't coming until last night," or "My wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend are going to kill me but I had to be here," or "No they weren't coming but I talked to them Thursday and..." seemed to be on everyone's lips. It was homecoming and family reunion all tied into one.
There was this cyclical line checking on releases. Nathan, the MGM security guard minding the line (who was awesome, respectful of the line and what we needed to do, unlike the dickheads who finally handed out the Ten Club tickets) kept coming over and telling us when other seats had been released. L12 gets released and people come trotting over, some buying, some holding back; some people are already holding two or three tickets to this show, and keep upgrading; it's that game, you know - buy or hold? I decide to pass on this one, I have a fan club trade and if I need an emergency seat, something else will come along. I calm down enough to go find some food; we were worried the MGM was not going to allow us to line up and I didn't want to leave the line in case we had to vacate quickly. By this time it's so late I can't have breakfast and I settle for hot dogs. It doesn't matter, everything tastes like cardboard anyway. I'm nervous. I'm anxious. I'm excited. I'm happy beyond belief. I am meeting people I haven't met before, seeing friends I haven't seen in months if not years.
Much, much discussion about what we'll see tonight, to the point where I remember that this is Vegas and they will make odds on ANYTHING, you can bet on anything. I get this evil, half-dazed grin on my face and someone stops me before I can do anything about it. Will they play Ten from start to finish? What was the setlist for that first show? People fly to web-enabled cell phones, Palm devices and other such things to check the Concert Chronology, except someone is smarter than all of that and has it burned onto CD. If I had to bet on anything, I'd bet on Ten from start to finish; I can't see them being so obscure as to play a setlist of songs that most of the people in the venue won't recognize. "Well, at least we won't get 'Last Kiss'," someone says, and I counter by saying that I think we very definitely will get it, that if they are going to play rarities they're going to have to throw something at the people who are just here because it's Pearl Jam.
Noonish, I think, they opened up a block of seats in a section that wasn't even on the seating chart, U19, right at the side of the stage (Mike's side; they'd open up its counterpart on the opposite side later). Everyone goes charging in and buys one. I stand there, hesitating; I traded fan club tickets with a friend, it's her membership, it's a decent number but we could still end up way back on the floor if demand was high. I finally give in and buy a ticket in the second row of U19. If nothing else, the company in that section will be outstanding. (I ended up giving it away to a fan who was way far back on the floor. Karma.)
Someone murmurs the magic mantra "posters" and leads a Pied Piper-like group of us over to the entrance to the venue, where a merchandise stand is being set up. There's the poster, five kids at a carnival holding ice cream cones, with the words 10TH ANNIVERSARY in big red letters. There's already a line; they're going to open at 2pm. We run back to the fan club line to take a count as to who needs a poster and then run back and stand there, anxiously waiting; no one is calm again until we have those magic posters in our hand. The business center at the hotel does a brisk business in Federal Express poster tubes, much to their bemusement; they completely run out within 30 minutes.
It's 3pm and they have now cordoned off the line, chasing people who aren't in line away from the hallway. I have reached breaking point and go up to the hotel room. I'm about to climb into the shower when the phone rings; it's Cathy down at the line, clearly agitated: "Caryn, you have to get down here NOW, they are saying the second person has to be here to get wristbanded." I throw on whatever is nearby and run back down, only to find out they were wrong, it wasn't necessary, but our nice calm orderly fan club line has turned into a mess at the hands of the MGM staff. grrrrrr. I finally have the presence of mind to glance at the ticket: row C, seat 1. Okay, so we're VERY hard Stone's side of stage, but what the hell, it's THIRD FUCKING ROW!! Yes! This makes the early morning cold taxi plane trip well worth everything. Now we can take a shower, have a drink, get dressed, and get ready; lots of people are heading over to see Foo Fighters/Queens of the Stone Age at Mandalay Bay. "Do you think..," someone asks. "NO," we answer in unison. I can't even think about guest appearances right now, I have enough on my mind with this show approaching.
The afternoon passes quickly; I eat something, drink something, but can barely remember any of it. The cell rings in the middle of all of this; it's Jessica. "I'm at the soundcheck," she says.
"Well, do you want to know what it is?"
"Sure, go ahead."
She knows me too well, because she asks, "Are you *sure* you want to know?"
"Okay, tell me."
"Are you REALLY sure?"
I finally catch on. "Are you writing this down? Is someone chronicling it? Can I get it later?"
She answers in the affirmative.
"Fine, then, no, I don't want to know what it is," but I'd be lying if I didn't say I was way fucking curious by now....
Around 6pm I decide to head for the venue, because I am so nauseous and anxious and nervous that I can't stand it any more. This is the first Pearl Jam show I've been to where I decided to - gasp! - dress up; Vegas and all. (This I would later discover would be a tactical error, since I ended up being able to jump around even more than I usually do.) But it was extremely amusing to walk around the venue and walk up to friends and acquaintences who just plain didn't recognize me, because I wasn't wearing some kind of tshirt, hair up or stuffed into a baseball cap. It was pretty damn funny.
I walk to my seat; okay, yeah, it's waaay on the side but only an idiot would have a problem with it. :-) If we are in a tourist zone, where people will be expecting us to sit down, this could become an issue, because there is no fucking way that is going to happen tonight. I wave up at the crew in U19, and decide to go up there and survey the view. Pretty damn impressive, I have to say, and up here I wouldn't have the worry about being in a group of boring people. I walk back down for Supergrass and I know there is no way I am moving. Even if I have the tallest people in the world in front of me, and the most boring people in the world behind me, I am still in the third fucking row. Supergrass, I have to say, were fantastic tonight - maybe they've grown on me, but I really enjoyed their set. Then again, I probably would have enjoyed a trained seal act as the opening band tonight.
Intermission, and everyone starts showing up. U19 is full, it's counterpart on our side of the stage fills up with familiar faces as well. We are doing the dorky "wave at all our friends all over the arena" routine at full geek power. WE DON'T CARE. Everyone was doing it, and it would later act as this touchstone for the diehards, you knew where to look to see someone as maniacally digging the show as you were. Luckily, we have fanatics in our row, and in the row right in front of us, and Ryan has somehow convinced this drunk guy to give up a front row fan club ticket - said drunk guy was going to try to scalp it for $2,000, and Ryan got it out of him for some active persuasion and a promise of live videos. Damn.
8:40 and I have returned to my seat, after making one last circuit through the arena hugging everyone I can, waving frantically at everyone else. The crew is walking people out from backstage, we see Nicolas Cage, Tim Burton, Lisa Marie, Johnny Ramone, Dave Grohl. Okay, yeah, big fucking deal, where are the REAL stars tonight?? And then "Baba" comes on and I am on the verge of tears, but not quite; I'm hugging Mari, I look up and Kathy and Shannon and Lindsay are all holding hands, this is one damn moving moment. There they are, Ed with the notebook and the bottle of wine, Stone with those plaid pants and that cowboy hat from the other night (and now I can see that it's a straw hat and not quite the fashionable haberdashery it seemed from a distance in Phoenix). I am just filled with love, and pride, and joy, and sheer excitement. I can't believe this show is here, and now, and that it's been 10 years.
They charge into "Interstellar Overdrive," followed by "Corduroy" and the applause is just deafening, it's like a rocket taking off. "Absolutely nothing's changed," sings Ed, and *now* I start crying in earnest, because it's so true and at the same time so not true, the poignancy of that line just zaps me in the heart.
"Breakerfall," that raucous, power-screaming pogofest, cascades into "Grievance," and Ed is just on fire here, this song more than any other has surfaced to the top of the Binaural pile - I mean I still think "Insignificance" is *the* song but "Grievance" is way more consistent, has become the song you can count on: always great, always on fire, and more importantly, gets the band's blood moving. They are a big bundle of nerves onstage, and Ed is blowing his nose, repeatedly. I feel bad, tonight of all nights is not the time to get a cold. These damn outdoor venues in the fall will do it, though.
After a rockin' "Last Exit," Ed swigs down some tea. His voice admittedly did start off a little rough, but it lasted about a song and a half and now it's warm and strong. "Animal" is solid and tight, and Ed is super-intense, just throwing himself into the song. Some dork wings a frisbee onstage and it hits Jeff's bass. Ed lets us sing the last "I'd rather be..." chorus as Mike soars into the solo.
"How is everybody....hi. Do we have a bunch of winners, or a bunch of losers," Ed says somewhat despondently, blowing his nose. "Or a bunch of gutter punks? Put me in with the perpetual losers... but it goes to show you, even losers can get ahead. We're happy to be here, although we're a little tense....No matter how poorly we play tonight, we played more poorly 10 years ago." Well, that's not quite the festive anniversary acknowledgement that we'd expected, but... hey. It's Ed. If he'd bounded on stage yelling, "HEY! It's our 10th Anniversary!!!" we would have all wanted to know what the fuck was wrong. =)
"Dissident" next, and I have to laugh, as my NYC Dissident-hating compatriot is also here tonight, up in U19, and it must be our collective energies bringing it on. But having said that, this was the best fucking version of this song I have ever heard. It was solid, it was tight, it was powerful. It slowed things down and I think gave the guys a chance to catch their breath, but it wasn't the kind of sloggy pace that "Dissident" usually stumbles into - so it didn't ruin the momentum (which is my main complaint with this song).
"This one is dedicated to the fake pyramids, the fake shark reefs, the fake... fakes," Ed tells us, yet again telling us where the band is staying in Vegas (like the Sigfried & Roy reference in 98). "Nothing As It Seems," which fits nicely. Now it's Mike's turn for the front, he's at the amps - but he's having problems, lots of eye contact with Ed, switches the guitar out.
"Given To Fly," and we are jumping up and down, we have become the Pearl Jam Funk Aerobics Squad, U19 is on their feet, the section above us too, but I turn around and hope to see a crowd of frantic motherfuckers and it's - dead. As a doornail. That just inspires us even MORE for the rest of the set. I have never ever been able to spend an entire show jumping up and down - I'm always worried about notes, I'm always worried about pictures, I also usually don't have room - but we were on the end of the row, and very conveniently, the two end seats of the row in front of us (second row!) have stayed vacant this far, so we spread out.
"First he was stripped, and then he was stabbed/by faceless men, the fuckers...*I* still stand," Ed growls, and it's then I know he's gonna be alright. "Wishlist" is next; I'd warned everyone earlier to not expect miracles of rarities tonight, in fact quite the opposite, so it doesn't surprise me that this is here. Ed seems bothered, though, the room is decidedly lukewarm but that's not his fault, not the band's fault; I wish they could just let go and not worry. 90% of the people there were just happy to be there and wouldn't know the difference, and the other 10% of us are sending out SO MUCH LOVE that we'll also happily embrace anything the band wants to give us. Relax. We're with you. We'll still love you in the morning. I'd rather see them fuck up and joke around than be so damn nervous.
"Untitled" follows into "MFC," and then it looks like Ed calls an audible, he's talking to Stone... no, there's equipment problems. "The next song is 10 years old... we've only played it twice," Ed says. "Well, it's not 'Evenflow'," says my companion. Ed then launches into this whole history lesson, while Stone's roadie gets to work. "10 years ago, we played at this club called the Off Ramp..." HUGE cheers from the fanclub section. "There were...200 people there, it was about the size of this stage" (which is fairly accurate, actually) "Stone had the same guitar problem, we had the same awkward situation," he says with a grin, as Stone cracks up.
We then hear the whole Legend of Pearl Jam, how Jack Irons (big applause) gave him a tape, and that he was working the midnight shift, so he had plenty of time to write some lyrics. He points out that the music on that tape was, of course, none other than Jeff, and Stone, and Matt - "who was in Soundgarden at the time," and Matt stands up and crosses his wrists in this lame pseudo-metal gesture, to great applause. That it took him about two hours to write the songs on that tape, and that "it changed the next decade, and all the rest of my life... I'd like to thank Stone and Jeff for recognizing a great talent when they heard it..."
Stone, laughing: "Did he just really say that?" Jeff is cracking up.
Ed, continuing: "...and rescuing me from an anonymity that I now actually crave...anyway, here's that song, it's called 'Evenflow'," and Mari and I look at each other, shrug, and start the pogoing thing again, with great joy, love and enthusiasm. Hey, it's EVENFLOW. They can never do a bad version of this song, no matter how much Ed fucks up the lyrics. Stone is REALLY into this, he is doing the little bopping-in-circles thing, jumping, Mike is spinning around and around in circles, throwing his guitar into the air, catching it. The solo is nothing short of Hendrixian.
12 string bass. "Jeremy". It's fine, I can use this to catch my breath. I turned around to scope out the crowd again, figuring surely this song would get them excited. Nope. Mike's having some kind of guitar problems again, I'm too far away to really see what's going on. Ed lets the crowd sing the last "ohhhhhh" chorus, which they do reasonably well, and then he falls back, knocking the mic down. He seems to be frustrated, still.
"Good singing," he tells us, right before the spotlights go on and here's our old friend "Insignificance". In my continuing quest to hear the ultimate version of the song, I have to say that tonight's was not it; the feedback at the beginning (I think Mike, maybe Ed) didn't help. Do I expect too much? I don't know. This song just has such tremendous potential, I can't help it. But it doesn't matter, I really get to jump and dance around for this song like I've never been able to, and that made it great all the same. "Betterman" follows, and for the third fucking night, nothing even coming close to resembling a "Save It For Later" tag. Dammit! We are rewarded, however, with a lovely Townshend midair jump at the end. Finally, one other reason this song is still wonderful to me is watching Matt Cameron's fabulous drum rolls. (Tonight's seats are GREAT for that reason, finally, an unobstructed view of Cameron.)
"Lukin" is a lovely crunchy trainwreck which careens into yet another great "Rearviewmirror" - great but not the best, they seem to lose focus on the jam. It started off solid but got a little aimless, and then they extended it in what seemed to be an attempt to bring it back together - which then happened nicely, Ed taking the lead. He looks to Jeff, who takes over the beat, and then Matt, and then"saw thingsAnd then we all join in at the top of our lungs, singing like we've never sung before:
saw THINGS""clearerAnd then the closing chorus, and that thundering ending tumultuous jam, and Mike grabs the cherry red Strat and smashes the life out of it, bang, bang, bang, bang ("I can't believe it took him this long," was Mari's comment), and hands the neck to someone in the front.
were in my...
Encore break. Now, there were lots of plots and schemes discussed for this show, let's sing the band happy birthday, let's all bring party hats and pass them out, but none of them actually took fruition. I take responsibility for some of this because we were unwilling to actually suggest anything on the page, one because we didn't need any more stupid flames, and two because, well, it would have kind of spoiled the surprise if we'd posted it for everyone to read about. But the one effort that did survive was under the auspices of the truly wonderful Laurie Hester, amp-j denizen, who bundled up balloons into little plastic bags and handed them out to everyone she could. The aim was to hand them out at the encore break and spend the time inflating as many as possible. It worked. The band came back onstage to a sea of balloons down front, the smile of wonderment on Ed's face was worth it all, and I wished we'd done it earlier.
We actually did get a "happy birthday" chant going, but that Stone Gossard fellow had to ruin it for us all by launching into "Do The Evolution". I am out in the aisle dancing away, security be damned, I don't know when I'm going to get to do this again, and if you can't do it on Pearl Jam's 10th birthday, well, when can you? No rest for the weary when you hear those deliciously ringing chords for "Once" - and it's great, it's just great, except that Ed is grabbing at his throat towards the end and you just think - aw fuck. Don't hurt yourself. This must be killing him.
"Thanks again, Las Vegas," Ed says. "We wouldn't mind attempting something... that's older than 10 years...tonight we have a large assembly of friends that we'd like to thank... we wouldn't do it while accepting a Grammy, or anything like that," he says with derision, "But it's just us, and you, it's our show, we can thank these people...they know who they are. Kelly Curtis...we slept in his basement, he took a lot of chances for us...early on, at the record company, the only one we talk to now, (Sony VP) Michelle Anthony...Michael Goldstone..." (who signed Mother Love Bone to Polygram and then PJ to Epic) "...We feel the need to say these names because we love you. It's been such a life experience for me, for all of us, seeing things we never thought we'd see, and a few we never wanted to..." A little pang at that one for me. Not knowing, of course, but the first thing I think of is Roskilde.
"Matt Cameron... Soundgarden made records for 10 years and never sucked! He's been extremely important to the band."
"Mike McCready...he's been through stuff no one would believe to be with us."
"This leads up to the main point...10 years...it means more these days...bands like the Ramones were together for 23 years, and are still relevant...this might be it for us" (loud booing) "...no, we'll still write music, I mean, be relevant."
"Jeff and Stone have been together for 17 years, and we'd like to celebrate that," and it's here that I totally lost the fucking thread of what he was saying - I'll get the tape later and fix it - and I don't even remember if Ed said what it was they were going to do or if it was just the first notes that I heard and I knew, but I threw down the pen, the notepad, the camera, I lunged for the cell phone to call Jean, and OH MY GOD!
"Crown of Thorns".
In a million years, I never, ever, ever, EVER, imagined I'd see this performed live, never thought I'd hear Ed sing it. I remember talking with some fans about this show months ago, and what could happen, and someone pointed out that Cameron Crowe Rolling Stone article where Ed said he'd always like to play a Mother Love Bone song, but never said which one; somehow we reached the conclusion (based on other comments read elsewhere) that the song was "Man of Golden Words," but we never ever knew for sure.
But - "Crown of Thorns"!!!
"you ever heard the story, of mister faded gloryAnd I'm just lost. I'm just frozen. I thought I'd cry but I can't, I'm just transfixed in this moment, trying to burn it into my brain cells so I can never forget it.
they say he who rides the pony must someday fall"
"it's a broken kinda feeling"This song... when I first really got the Pearl Jam fever thing going, I was living overseas, I had no access to anything, I was begging the local record store to get me boot cd's from Italy, buying them based on what songs were on it - yeah desperate. This was 1991, 1992.
"i wanna tell you that i love youA friend sent me a Mother Love Bone compilation "so you'd have the other part of the story," and I wore it out. And then, Singles. That winter, I made a tape that had "Seasons," "Breath," "Wash," "Stargazer," and of course, "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns."
but does it really matter""this is my kinda loveI would go to the beach on the weekends, rain or shine, and sit there, listening to this tape, over and over and over and over. It spoke to the condition of my heart at that time, the state of my soul.
it's the kind that moves on
it's the kind that leaves me alone""like a crown of thorns, its all who you know"And here it is. It's right in front of me. I'm still in utter disbelief. It's live, I'm hearing it live, but instead of Andy Wood's voice is the voice that's been a major touchstone for the last 8 years. Ed fucking NAILED the song, I hope he fucking knows that he totally, completely and utterly nailed it, and the rest of it was as close to perfect as you could possibly ever expect or want. Someone later asked about the solo, how Mike was; my answer: Was Mike McCready on that stage? Mike who? I was not watching Mike. I was watching Ed, I was listening to Ed, and more importantly, I was watching Stone and Jeff. It was just the most incredibly apt birthday commemoration for this band, to honor the two founding members, the two members who nowadays are overlooked by the media and by the casual fans, the guys who were the original rock stars of the band.
At the end of the song - I didn't see it, but my friends who were 7th row center, said that Ed held the mic up to the ceiling and mouthed "Thanks, Andy." It's a good thing I didn't see that, because I was enough of a wreck by what I witnessed. It was the end of the song, Jeff is facing Stone, they're playing it out, Jeff is looking at Stone intently, and on the closing notes, Jeff just gave him this look that said everything. It said "I remember" and "Man, everything we have been through" and "I understand" and "17 years". God, I'm crying now just remembering it. This look, a little bow of the head in acknowledgement, gravely and simply, saying a million things with that one gesture. So incredibly intimate, on a stage in front of 13,000 screaming fans. Once I saw that, I wanted to collapse in my chair and sob quietly for a while - but true to their friendship, and the band's partnership, they kept going, they just keep going.
"Black," and now I see the organ, oh yeah, there's Brendan O'Brien, he was up there for "Crown of Thorns" too. He's not out on the stage, he's kind of behind the amps on Stone's side, out of the spotlight, but Stone walks over there and plays with him for most of the song. The solo is yet another scorcher, Mike arching his back, working the amps back and forth.
Ed makes some comment about the next song being suitable to the geography, and I'm screaming "VIVA LAS VEGAS!!" (hell, Springsteen opened AND closed his set at the same venue with that song) - I mean this tour, I'll believe anything now, after Buddy Holly surfaced in Lubbock - instead, of course, it's "Can't Help Falling In Love With You," okay, I'll take it, thank you very much. I grab Mari and we slow dance for a few seconds before we fall over laughing, and then go back to the song, and then these two guys in the row behind us come out of the row, and very solemnly come over and ask us each to dance, which was very sweet, except that two couples slow dancing in a half-assed fashion was too much of a threat to security, so they came over and broke it up.
"Elderly Woman" seemed only fitting next, and then Ed says something to Stone - I think it's another audible, but then Stone comes up to the mic: "You knew I had to sing one some time," with a smirk, and it's "Mankind," which is a great dance number if you've never tried it. The rest of the audience looks kind of lost on this one.
"Last Kiss," and I can see my friends waving and laughing at me - well I did call it. I'm not happy about it but honestly it was inevitable. I love to watch Stone and Jeff and Mike trade goofy looks on this song. I mean, they get more and more goofy as the tour goes along. I wonder how much longer than can keep doing this before someone falls over laughing during it.
Just when I'm trying to figure out how long this has been doing on and how many songs we've got left: "1, 2, 3, 4." AUGH! PORCH! Jump jump jump, pogo pogo pogo, it's Pearl Jam insanity time! Section U19 is one writhing, jumping mass. It's intense, it's fitting, it's a triumphant end. Or beginning of the end. Wow, this is still FIRST ENCORE. What could we POSSIBLY get next!
Ed comes out, Stone is talking to Ed, saying something, I don't even know if it's relevant - but Ed's got a tambourine and it's one thing or the other and YES! There are few things better than Baba Fucking O'Riley from the second row in Ten Club seats, and if I thought I had energy and was jumping around before, that was nothing compared to this. Second wind? I don't know, it probably has something to do with that law in 15 states requiring you to stand up during any live performance of "Baba O'Riley". It's a great one, Stone and Jeff bounding around the stage, Cameron hitting those drums for all he's worth, Mike leaping into the air every three seconds. Ed smashes a hole at one tambourine and throws it to Nicolas Cage - probably in reference to the fact that he's supposed to play Pete Townshend in the forthcoming Keith Moon biopic. Second tambourine went to the aforementioned front row guy who was going to sell his fan club ticket for $2000 - but at least he spent the show jumping up and down the whole time.
House lights, and it's "Ledbetter" time - there were actually THREE SIGNS asking for it (I'm sorry, but Ledbetter? C'mon, if you know enough to make a sign, you must know that they play it ALMOST EVERY NIGHT). I mean, the guys were walking offstage, or so it seemed, although it was on the setlist. It's fine. We're happy. We're glowing. It was a great time. YL has become the time to pack your stuff up, get your coat, get ready to leave. And it's fun to watch Mike solo, and to watch Ed; he kind of crouches down near the mic tonight, slowly and deliberately surveying the crowd, making eye contact, these small waves at people.
The band comes to the front of the stage, Jeff throwing picks, Matt out from behind the drum riser, they wave to us all, and it's over. 10 years. Happy birthday, guys. Ed said he couldn't wait for the party, and neither can we - not their party, OURS.
After phoning in the setlist, and making ourselves look a little less like drowned rats, we make our way down the street to this little dive of a bar, which was invaded by PJ fans from all persuasions. We got very very drunk and laughed and told jokes and revelled in our very Pearl Jam fan geekiness all night. People who have known each other for years, people who had never met; people who'd seen their first show this tour, people who'd seen the band since the beginning, people with fan club numbers of 83. People who drove cross country, others who flew, people from the UK, people from Australia. It was this great, happy, drunken, silly bash. What does this have to do with the 10th anniversary show? This has to do with the fact that this show was about us, was about the fans, was about the friendships, was about the community as much as it was about the band. It was our celebration too.
Can't wait until October 22, 2010. See you then!
copyright © 2000 Caryn Rose