Pearl Jam Concert Review
April 29, 2003
Arrived into Albany, via Trailways bus, at 5pm. I checked into the Ramada Inn near the bus terminal at 5:30pm. Good thing I made reservations for a room way in advance, cause they are sold out, mostly with Pearl Jam fans. The room was on the 4th floor overlooking the thruway. Oh yeah, noise factor. Sigh! Freshened up then changed into my concert attire of jeans, sneakers and POLICE t-shirt. Then strapped on my fanny pack and grabbed my jeans vest before heading out to arena at 6:30pm. Yeah baby!
Strolled to arena and arrived at 6:45pm. What a mob scene outside! Ran into some cool Green Party dudes who were handing out Xerox copies of PEACE sign to any and all fans. I already had mine protected in plastic sheet and snuggly stashed in my fanny pack. Got to talking to one of the dudes about a few topics [ie: local cops, etc] and he gave me the number to contact Green Party here in NYC.
Went into Pepsi Arena and had no troubles with security check, plus the guard was young and so cute. ;-) After showing my tix I noticed the Pearl Jam goodie table and a huge line of fans. I was like, no way, too pricey for my humble wallet. Had a slice of pizza, which tasted like some icky frozen kind nuked. I was hungry, so figured what the hell. Yah know. Hit the bathroom, cause I refuse to leave during mid Pearl Jam gig to take a pee. By this time its 7:15pm and I go in search of my seat, which is 104 C 3. I could see the stage just fine from my seat. Totally different from what I experienced at Saratoga show back in August 2000.
Two gals [ie: Alexa & Cheryl] are in seats next to mine and we strike up a fun conversation. It’s their first Pearl Jam gig and my second. Cheryl is in her mid-30s, married with kids and Alexa is in college. They live way south of Albany and were nice gals.
At 7:30pm SPARTA comes on stage to do a so-so 45-minute set. Well folks, this band did nothing for me, though I must admit the drummer was pretty good and the bass player sucked. But hey, to each his own, yah know. I wore earplugs to tone down their noise. Took the roadies about 35 minutes to clear SPARTA stuff and do final setup of Pearl Jam equipment. By this time my stomach is doing flip-flops. Hell yeah, I’m getting that excited.
At around 8:50pm the lights dim, everyone jumps to their feet, screams and lots of applause as Pearl Jam hits the stage. WooHoo! I’ve got a piece of paper with me and pen to jot down the set list, plus other notes. Watched them come on stage, observing them closely, especially Mike AND Jeff. They all looked good and ready rock the arena. I was hoping they would start off set with LONG ROAD, but they jumped right into I AM MINE. After that they blasted into WHIPPING. Awesome! Jeff started in with some pogoing, but poor Mike was having trouble with either his guitars or pedal board. This unfortunate occurrence continued thru next few songs and kind of curbed his style. Next song was LAST EXIT, followed by an intense version of BLOOD. Ed raging into his mike and I thought his voice would go, but it didn’t. Next on set list was CROPDUSTER with Matt supplying the backup vocals. Then comes one of my fav songs DAUGHTER with several cool tags, one of which is ABITW by Pink Floyd. Mike is still having troubles, but is dealing with it and his roadie is doing all he can to resolve situation. Jeff, as always, is looking and sounding wonderful. I’m taking in the whole stage, but my main focus is on Jeff, Mike and Ed. In that order too. Through it all I’m happily dancing, bopping up and down, plus screaming “yeah baby”. The two gals next to me are also dancing and smiling. We be happy!
The arena has signs all over stating NO SMOKING and despite this people are lighting up cigarettes and joints. And damn security is doing nothing! The smell of the pot is slowly giving me a sinus headache. Damn!
Next song on Pearl Jam set list is another fav of mine – EVEN FLOW. Mike, Jeff and Ed do a jump during the song and Mike is the bomb with his solo. Wow! They follow with a fav song off their RIOT ACT cd called GHOST. This is one of Jeff’s songs and he does backup vocals. Sweet! Next is ELDERLY WOMAN, though Ed chats abit with crowd before singing that song. Audience really gets into this song, and then they do another RIOT ACT song called LOVE BOAT CAPTAIN and features Boom Gaspar [?] on keyboards. Awesome! Next is WISHLIST and I admit not one of my fav Pearl Jam songs, though at the end Ed does an interesting tag. Then they do a kick-ass version of SAVE YOU and the whole band is totally grooving. Then, to my surprise, they swing into ONCE.
Along this time both Cheryl and Alexa had to leave, as their ride is waiting for them outside. I told Cheryl, who is a Ten Club member, to order the CD boot online. That way she will hear the whole gig.
Next up a great version of CORDUROY with Jeff grooving all over the place, but mostly with his back to us, which affords me a nice view of his amazing shoulders and butt. What a fine looking man. Mike rips off a bitchin solo towards end. This is followed by BETTERMAN, which the audience sings along to and quite loudly. They end the first part of their set with a fantastic rendition of PORCH. They are really into it and if I remember correctly, Ed and Mike stroll around the whole stage waving to fans in the back. This really gets the whole audience jazzed.
They head off stage for a 7-minute or so break. This give me and hundreds of others in the crowd time to whip out our white 8x11 papers with PEACE sign on it. The Green Party asked us to hold these up when the band came back on stage for encore. Not only do I hold up mine and proudly I may add, but also several hundred fans do likewise.
The look on the guys faces as they gaze out to see so many PEACE signs is priceless. Ed says something about peace, and then Jeff strolls over to mention something in Ed’s ear. Also, at this time, Ed spots someone in audience and brings up on stage. She is a young, petite gal who shakes hands with all the band members, but hugs Stone. I’m thinking lucky girl, but also what’s wrong with her. Hug Stone? Fuck that – go for the good stuff and hug Jeff. Oh well. Then Ed introduces her to the crowd [name is Rachel], asks her to hold a piece of paper and be a human music stand, which she does. One could tell she was nervous but happy. After the band finishes a great rendition of Patti Smith song called PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER, Rachel hands Ed her small camera. He takes pix of her with Stone, then Mike & Jeff and finally with Matt. Whoa! After she leaves the stage, Ed and band do a cute improv about how Rachel came to show and wished for world peace. Definitely a highlight to the evening. DO THE EVOLUTION follows this and then another fav song of mine GIVEN TO FLY. Audience is so into the show, me too, lots of energy. Then Ed says the next song is being performed for first time on NA Tour [or something like that] and they do ALL OR NONE. Sounds good too.
OMG! They follow that with an amazing version of ALIVE. I’m singing and dancing. Love it all! Throughout the whole encore Jeff is wowing us with great jumps and pogoing all over. A joy to watch. The final song of the gig is The Who’s BABA O’RILEY. Ed is whipping up frenzy on tambourines, Jeff dances a little Irish jig near Mike, and Matt is a powerhouse on drums. Towards end of song Ed runs around the whole parameter of stage, not once, but twice and flings tambourines to the crowd. Mike throws out guitar picks by the dozen. The guy’s finish the song to cheers from audience, they wave goodnight and Ed says goodbye. Awesome two hour show, though I’m wondering why no second encore. Doesn’t take long to exit the arena and walk back to Ramada Inn. The air feels so cool and fresh.
And there you have my lengthy review.