Madison Square Garden
It’s never too late to right wrongs. Never have regrets in life, and if you do, fix them, if they are fixable.
Pearl Jam’s Ten owned the ears of high schoolers everywhere from 1991 onwards. When grunge was grunge, these guys were like the fringe of grunge – rocking rock that had an edge (but not droning like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains’ music did), and this rock was rock built for the ages. I LIVED for Ten. We all did. It’s not only the perfect debut album, but a perfect album – up their in my mind with the likes of Paul Simon’s Graceland, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Beasties Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, most albums by The Beatles, and so on and so forth and so onforth
At the height of their and my hysteria, I somehow neglected to see them in concert, which is odd, considering how I saw a LOT of shows as a teen, including the original Smashing Pumpkins line-up, Nine Inch Nails, Fugazi, Alice In Chains, the Beasties Boys 128238823 times, Ice-T, Public Enemy, Urge Overkill, The Soup Dragons, etc. (My lucky brother saw Pearl Jam open for the Red Hot Chili Peppers AND Smashing Pumpkins in New Orleans, in 1991. Red Hots are another band I meant to see, and still never have)
Time passed, and then Pearl Jam released their 2nd album – Vs – and while a lovely effort, it was no perfect Ten. More like a 6? Probably a 7. But time has been good to it. It’s probably an 8 now. But back then? A 6. I was so pissed it wasn’t Ten-2 that by the time their 3rd album dropped – Vitalogy (still a terrible name) – I was done – and for me – Pearl Jam was over. And while I was done with Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam wasn’t done at all – they were just getting going – releasing 7 albums in my absence, and keeping on keeping on rocking in the free world
Eons passed, beards grew, and then I saw that they were coming to MSG this year, and was like, you know what – I’ve never heard ‘Even Flow’, ‘Jeremy’ or ‘Alive’ (my holy Pearl Jam trinity) played live – not a once, and how could I let this wrong continue to be wrong? Boom – done – wrong to be righted. And spank the lord I did, for in 3 hours time, my face melted (like the Nazi in Raiders) with endless and effortless and awesomebest rock n roll, and I couldn’t have asked for a better first Pearl Jam show (OK, I was a little/lot pissed when they played Ten in its entirety two shows before the one I would attend)
Look at that setlist below!!! They played THREE songs with ‘man’ in the title, IN A ROW!! They played BOTH songs from the Singles soundtrack, BACK 2 BACK!!! They did a cover of Cheap Trick’s ‘Surrender’, WITH 2 DUDES FROM CHEAP TRICK!! They did a Police cover WITH STING – AND IT DIDN’T PUT ME TO SLEEP (cause Sting is boring). And after studying setlist after setlist from their 2016 tour, I nailed it when I said they’d do a cover of the Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ (which I’ve always wanted to hear them play ever since they played it on MTV in 1992). The two dudes who came with me to the show (one being Shreddy FCUKING Mercury!!!) each had one request each, and Pearl Jam played both (‘State of Love and Trust’ AND ‘Yellow Ledbetter’). And they played my holy trinity of ‘Even Flow’, ‘Jeremy’ and ‘Alive’. Think I enjoyed that????? See video above!!!!!!!!!
Moral of the story – Pearl Jam never stopped rocking / I was an idiot for years / you CAN go back again / the mid 90s will never die / I will see Pearl Jam ANYTIME they come back to NY / Sting is still boring, but less so when Pearl Jam is his backing band
Setlist – Corduroy / Mind Your Manners / Once / Animal / Given to Fly / Surrender (Cheap Trick coverwith Rick Nielsen & Tom Petersson) [watch] / Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town / Nothingman / Leatherman / Better Man / Garden / Even Flow / Sirens / Deep / Jeremy / Leash / Do the Evolution
Encore – You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away (Beatles cover) / All or None / Pendulum / Present Tense / Breath / State of Love and Trust / Porch
Encore 2 – Last Kiss (Wayne Cochran cover) / Driven to Tears (Police cover with Sting) [watch] / Lightning Bolt / Sonic Reducer (Dead Boys cover) / Alive / Baba O’Riley (Who cover) / Yellow Ledbetter / The Star-Spangled Banner (John Stafford Smith cover)