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Pearl Jam’s 10 Greatest Concerts

on March 18, 2020, 10:45am
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10. Orpheum Theater – April 12th, 1994

Pearl Jam pride themselves on being a band of, by, and for the people. Yes, they are rock stars, but no, that doesn’t mean that they carry themselves as though they are above everyone else. In that spirit, for the second to last show of their Vs. tour in 1994 at the Orpheum Theater in Boston, the band let their road crew completely dictate their setlist. Needless to say, the roadies chose wisely, and the concert that night was jam-packed with deep cuts like “Alone” and “Dirty Frank”, as-yet-unreleased songs from Vitalogy like “Immortality” and “Not for You”, and cool covers like Neil Young’s “Fuckin’ Up” and Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer”, which they performed with Mudhoney’s Mark Arm.

09. Key Arena – November 6th, 2000

For the final show of their massive, three-leg worldwide tour in 2000, Pearl Jam decided to truly go home and ended things with a two performances inside Key Arena in Seattle. It’s the only concert from that run where the band played the song “Alive” and was one of only 18 bootlegs that they tagged with a special “Ape/Man” logo designating it as a truly special performance. The inclusion of the track “Little Wing” by another famous Seattle rock music institution, Jimi Hendrix, in the set was an especially nice and poignant touch. Hat’s off to McCready for an exquisite solo.

08. Madison Square Garden – September 11th, 1998

New York City: If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Pearl Jam played two nights back-to-back on its Yield tour in 1998, but it was the second performance on September 11th that is the most notable. That entire run was quite spectacular, but for some reason the fans in the front row made it their mission during the band’s foray into the Big Apple to get Pearl Jam to perform the Singles film soundtrack song “Breath”, which they hadn’t done in four years. They all held up signs emblazoned with the word “Breath” on them until, finally, Vedder acknowledged their presence. “This is the third night in a row, right?” he asked the people up front. “What, is this some kind of organized religion or something? You know, we come up here as a collective band, and we give and give and give, and you just want more? Do you think you deserve it? Well, I think you do. Fuck you, we’re gonna play it!” Needless to say, the crowd lost its collective mind.

07. Tweeter Center – July 11th, 2003

This gig is remarkable mostly for the band’s decision to perform a special acoustic set even before the show openers Sleater-Kinney took the stage. The main set was predictably fantastic, but the Massachusetts fans received a huge treat when the band gave them a especially delicious pre-pre-concert amuse bouche comprised of rarely performed gems like “All Those Yesterdays”, “All Or None”, and “Footsteps” to go along with badass covers of The Ramones’ “I Believe in Miracles”, “Know Your Rights” by the Clash, and “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival later in the evening.

06. Alpine Valley Music Theater – September 4th, 2011

In 2011, Pearl Jam decided to pause, take a look around, and consider where they’ve been and how they got there. They aligned with rock writer/director Cameron Crowe to produce the band documentary PJ20 and set up a two-day festival in Wisconsin to commemorate their two decades together as a band. The phrase “career-spanning” gets thrown out a lot when talking about concerts put on by bands that have been around for more than a few records, but there’s truly no better way to describe the collection of songs that the band performed that night. The real kicker came in the second encore when Chris Cornell sauntered out to perform a four-song Temple of the Dog reunion. “Hunger Strike” still kills.

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