Pearl Jam at Key Arena in Seattle on September 22, 2009

Album Cover: Narrow Stairs

"As the flashbulbs burst, she holds a smile like someone would hold a crying child."
Death Cab For Cutie / Cath...

Posted on September 26, 2009 5:35 AM in Music
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Eddie Vedder On Stage

I hoped to post this the night of, like I did for the September 21st show, but life kinda got in the way. When I guessed that the September 22nd show would be more memorable, little did I know that that would end up being an understatement!

Since my wife and daughter needed to catch a flight to Phoenix the morning of the 23rd, my wife decided not to go to the second Pearl Jam show with me. I couldn't find anyone else to go with me on such late notice, and didn't want to risk any trouble with my fanclub membership by selling my other ticket, so I decided to just eat the cost of the extra ticket and go alone. What I found, though, is that I got more than my money's worth, even considering both tickets.

Whereas our seats were in row 23 the first night, my tickets the second night were for row 15. Knowing I'd be a little closer to the action had me pretty excited. One of the things that I missed out on the first night was a grey tour t-shirt with a buzz saw-shaped vinyl record on the front, since they had run out of my size. The first thing I did upon entering Key Arena was make my way over to the merchandise section and pick up one of those shirts. This time around, they had my size, so the night was already off to a great start.

When I got to my seats, I noticed that row 15 was right after a wide aisle, which meant there'd be plenty of room in front of me during the show. When I sat down, I realized that I was indeed much closer to the stage and not too far off center. Given my experience the night before, I was able to time my arrival just about 30 minutes before Pearl Jam took the stage.

When the band finally did take the stage, I got the sense that there wasn't as much energy in the building as there had been the night before. However, after getting only a few songs into the set, it became very clear that the energy and emotion in the building actually far surpassed that of the previous night's show.

One of the main reasons for the abundance of energy was the set list. Whereas I mentioned the first night's set list seemed a bit strange, night two's set was very fluid, full of surprises, and completely engaging.

The band kicked off the set with "Sometimes," worked its way through "Dissident" and "Faithfull," two songs I love to hear live, and then kicked into an amazing trio of "Lukin," "Not For You," and a brief Sleater-Kinney homage that I just so happened to capture on video. I've always loved how Eddie changes the "Small my table, seats just two" lyric in "Not For You," and during this set he sang something along the lines of "Small my table, seats just four. Got so crowded, it can't seat anymore." I definitely thought this was a reflection of his personal life.

As if that trio wasn't exciting enough, Eddie introduced the following song as being one the band always refused to play, despite constantly being asked to play it. The band then proceeded to play "No Way" from Yield for only the fourth time ever live, and for the first time since September of 1998. It sounded so good, you would have never guessed they never play it live.

During the first encore, the band played "Just Breathe" (which is easily my favorite song off of Backspacer) and "The End" with a string quartet (featuring Matt Cameron's wife) accompanying. They ended the encore with three more live favorites of mine, "Black," "In My Tree" and "Spin the Black Circle."

The second encore started off with another rarity that might in fact never get played again. Eddie said that solely for this one performance, he had rewritten "Supersonic" as "SuperSonics" with lyrics specific to the Seattle SuperSonics, our long lost basketball team. As Eddie introduced the song and the fact that this performance would be a one-time only deal, I noticed that Jeff was wearing an old school Seattle SuperSonics t-shirt. The band then kicked into this custom version of the song, that featured lyrics along the lines of "SuperSonics took my soul...I bought my tickets but the Key was closed:"

What Eddie at one point noted was the band's 50th time playing in Seattle ended just how I had hoped it would. After "Porch," the house lights came on and the band started playing my favorite song of all time, "Yellow Ledbetter." As usual, after the song had come to an end, Mike took center stage, metaphorically speaking, and closed the show with his Hendrixesque rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Once the final chord had been played, the band got together in a group and bowed. The crowd went nuts, but to be fair, the crowd had been going nuts all night long. But it was clear the night had been an emotional experience for the band just as it had been for me and the thousands of people around me.

I've been a Pearl Jam fan long enough now to have been to my fair share of second or third nights, but I haven't ever been to one that lived up to this one. The band put their hearts into it, the crowd put their hearts into it, and the show truly became an example of where the whole became greater than the sum of its parts.

Now the waiting game begins. Picking up the bootlegs will be one way to ensure that the memory of this show and the previous night's stay with me for a very long time.

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cnuxwbqi on May 15, 2017 at 5:23 AM:

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