And the Album of the Night Goes to…
Not too long ago, Pearl Jam performed all of Ten for Philadelphia, only the second time they’ve ever done that. That didn’t happen for Wrigleyville, but they came close. Of the album’s 11 tracks, the band dusted off “Even Flow”, “Alive”, “Black”, “Jeremy”, “Porch”, and “Release”, leaving off “Once”, “Why Go”, “Oceans”, “Garden”, and “Deep”.
Okay, maybe not that close, but considering they only played three off Backspacer, Vitalogy, and Vs.; two off Lightning Bolt and Yield; and one off Binaural, Merkinball EP (!), and Pearl Jam, that’s quite the allotment. Still, we would have gladly traded a few from Ten for a cut or two off Riot Act … or even a combo of “State of Love and Trust”/”Breath”.
Mike McCready on “Even Flow”
He’s done it hundreds of times before. He’ll do it hundreds of times in the future. But that doesn’t diminish the awe that sets in every time Mike McCready gets his three minutes of glory on this Ten classic. Whether it’s the plunge into the crowd, the guitar noodling behind his head, or the iconic silhouette he casts on stage during the jam, moments like this are precisely how guitar players ascend to become guitar gods.
Out of the nine covers that Pearl Jam unpacked amongst the ivy, the one that brought out the best in everyone was their faithful homage to Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”. Vedder shared a story about growing up around the NorthShore, specifically one night when he snagged a cheap bottle of wine and listened to his Walkman under the stars by the beach. “It was like heading into the sky and seeing a whole world of possibilities,” he remembered. “But what were the options?”
Decades later, we know the answer, but there was a brief intimacy to his shrugging admission, one that was further exacerbated by Roger Waters’ timeless power ballad. Sure, it’s a song the band’s covered almost every night on this tour, but there was something about this particular homecoming that touched Vedder. Maybe it was seeing thousands of fans, feeling like the Cubs might go all the way, or maybe it was just the wine. Either way, he was definitely comfortable and most assuredly numb.
Black Is the New Black
Go on, FM radio. Play this song a million more times. Try to make me tire of it. Go on, Pearl Jam. Play it another 600 times in concert and at every show I attend. Hell, open and close with it. I don’t care. There’s just nothing that can diminish “Black”, one of the great alt rock ballads of all time. Everything’s perfect: the solidarity felt as the entire crowd pours their hearts into every word, Eddie Vedder urging, “We belong together” at the song’s conclusion, and three of the most perfect lines to ever close a song: “I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life/ I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky/ But why, why, why can’t it be, can’t it be mine?” The day those lines don’t bring me to tears (or damn close) is the day my heart stopped beating.
The Chicago Way
To Hell With the Curfew
You wanna know how to get the crowd going? They start towards the exit, you pull out the Cubs song. They turn the lights on you, you say to hell with the curfew. That’s the Chicago way! And that’s how you get the crowd. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? What are you prepared to do?
Rest assured, Pearl Jam never stop fighting till the fight is done.
Chicago, August 20th
Rain (The Beatles cover)
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
Do the Evolution
Amongst the Waves
I Got Id
Mind Your Manners
Masters of War (Bob Dylan cover)
I Am a Patriot (Little Steven cover)
Daughter (w/ “W.M.A”)
I Believe in Miracles (Ramones cover)
Let Me Sleep
Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd cover)
Interstellar Overdrive (Pink Floyd cover)
Surrender (Cheap Trick cover)
All the Way
Baba O’Riley (The Who cover)