Eddie Vedder kept bringing up the fact that Pearl Jam had played in Massachusetts 27 times. On their 28th gig in the Commonwealth they delivered the usual dynamic powerhouse performance mixing in the hits with some rare nuggets along the way.
The evening started with the slow burning "Release". The crowd and Vedder with their hands in the air as if beginning the evening prayers to the altar of PJ. A chorus of believers singing "Release Me" at the top of their lungs lifting the Garden into position for the sonic tour the band would give for the next 2 and 1/2 hours.
They had a nice selection of deep tracks which leaned heavily on the "No Code" album with "Hail Hail" and "Smile". Mike McCReady's buzz saw slide on "Red Mosquito" and the surprise appearance of "In My Tree". They also pulled a couple of gems from "Yield" with "Push Me Pull Me" and "Pilate".
During "Evenflow", Mike McCready proved again that he is one of the greatest and most underrated guitar players of all time. He ripped in to the solo with by firing of notes like his guitar was a Gatling gun. As the band brought it down he mixed his Hendrix with Dick Dale, taking the train off the tracks while coaxing bubbling wails that echoed of the rest of the band with shimmering effect.
Vedder did a Bruce Springsteen style intro to "Elderly Woman Behind A Counter In A Small Town" by saying they've played Massachusetts 27 times over the years, but they've never played, Billerica, Holden, Medford, Quincy, Franklin, Norwood and Shrewsbury(Pronouncing them all correctly and endearing himself to the Garden audience even more)
After the first Encore break Vedder and bassist Jeff Ament came out with acoustic guitars and after a few slugs of vino kicked into "Bee Girl", their homage to the girl in Blind Melon's video for "No Rain". The only other time I've seen them do this was the last time they were at the Comcast Center and I wet my pants then too. I remember hearing them do it for the first time on the radio show "Rockline" back in 1992. Vedder was talking about grappling with his new found fame and gave a few words of warning to the Bee girl who was also experiencing new found notoriety thanks to MTV. After they played the song Vedder gave out his home phone number for anyone that wanted to "talk". I remember I was in the car and was freaked that he would do such a thing. By the time I got home the number was gone from my brain.
Ament then left the stage and it was just Eddie and Us while he did the new wedding favorite "Just Breathe" from "Backspacer". They did a few from the new slab including "The Fixer", "Unthought Known", and "Force Of Nature". The best of the new stuff was "Got Some". A jackhammer of a tune which they delivered with a ravaging intensity.
After the second encore and acknowledging the "Cow Guy" in the crowd they turned around to the people in the shitty seats behind the stage and played "Soldier Of Love" with Matt Cameron moving to a smaller drum kit to the side. They even put all the lighting on the back section of the Garden leaving the majority in darkness as the gave those sections their money's worth for 3 minutes. A great gesture by the band.
Other highlights of the evening included a massive stadium rock version of the Who's "Love Reign O'er me" with full on light show and exquisite piano intro by Boom Gaspar and Mike McCready and Jeff Ament paying tribute to Ronnie James Dio by slipping in a few measures of the Sabbath classic "Heaven And Hell" at the end of "Alive". One of my favorite moments came when Eddie again mentioned playing Mass 27 times but was "pretty sure they've never played this one here" and then kicking into the Mother Love Bone anthem "Crown Of Thorns". Stone Gossard and Ament shared a moment together facing each other on stage in front of the drums while playing the song from their old band. It was from the ashes of MLB that Temple Of The Dog came into being, which was the beginnings of Pearl Jam. If late MLB singer and Chris Cornell roommate Andrew Wood had not died of a heroin overdose these musical forces would not have converged and the space/time continuum of Grunge would be vastly different.
I'm looking forward to #29.
You said it all so well. Made me wish I was there with my son.
It's all about the music.
Mike, I had a great time! It was fun!
Long live the cow man!
Mike, awesome review! I have seen Pearl Jam jsut about everytime they have played the Boston area, going to back to a UMass Lowell show in April of 1992, in which we paid $5 a ticket. I have loved each show that I have seen from the band as Pearl Jam is and always will be, one of my favorite bands of all time.
Im so mad I missed this gig! I've have also heard that Pearl Jam are playing better than ever, including the guitar god that is Mike McCready!
Sounds like it was a great show! I'll see them next time for sure!
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