Making of a Moment – East Troy, WI 6/1/2003
Welcome back to another installment of Making Of A Moment, where I dig into some of the moments that made the show we covered on the podcast this week special. It’s one of the main reasons I love doing the podcast, finding these little moments in the show where the music transcends the 5 (or 6) people on stage and everything comes together in a magical way. Hopefully you’ll be seeing these on a weekly basis, it’s a way for me to revisit some of the performances I really loved. With that said, this week’s show was East Troy 2003, and my #3 moment is Rearviewmirror.
Listen to Rearviewmirror from 6/21/2003
We’re closing the main set here, and the jam here starts at about 2:15, and it feels like your everyday wonderful, spacey, RVM jam. Let’s fast forward to about 4 minutes in, and you’re going to need some headphones for this one. Mike on the left side, coaxing some space desert feedback effects. Stone’s on the right side, sending out phaser blasts up and down the fretboard. Together, it truly sounds otherworldly, something you could play for someone and they’d never believe it was Pearl Jam. No video of this show unfortunately, but I’ve seen enough that I can picture everyone, heads down, focused, locked in. There were lots of very good examples of Stone and Mike’s interplay in this show, but this one is one of the all-time best. Of course, Ed’s got a guitar too, and he comes in, front and center in the mix, and caps it off perfectly before kicking back in at 6:15, 4 glorious minutes of guitars. There are longer versions, and there are bigger versions at bigger shows, but add this one to the very long list of classic Rearviewmirror performances.
Listen to Better Man from 6/21/2003
#2 this week is Better Man. Alpine Valley has become known for their crowds, not only for being loud, but being smart. So when Ed steps up and starts the intro to Better Man, kicking off the run of songs to end the main set (that would conclude with RVM), the crowd is up for it. Listen to the roar at the very beginning, they’ve been waiting for this moment to come and it’s here. Ed can only get through one and a half words before he’s overwhelmed by the volume of the fans. Now, this is nothing that we haven’t heard before, but listen to the focus and the clarity of the audience singing. These aren’t casual fans half-mumbling the words they know and faking it through the song, this is a movement. So much so that Ed, ever-sensitive to an audience’s power, doesn’t even make an attempt to take back the first verse, as he will often do. He jumps in for a moment, but they’ve got it, and he backs out again. Listening to all of the crowd participation at these shows every week has been hard during the last couple of years, it makes me miss it even more. However, this one gave me chills in a good way, I can’t wait to be back in that crowd with all of you singing our hearts out. This is a very good performance, going back to the song, the band (and especially Ed) gets a lift whenever the crowd is on like this, and that’s not even mentioning the Buzzcocks “Why Can’t I Touch It?” tag, which is energetic and rowdy, unlike the Wishlist versions that we know.
My #1 moment this week is Immortality. Following the early part of the set, and after a series of deep cuts, Immortality hits hard here, in what would normally be the Even Flow spot. It moves and shakes early on, led by Matt and Stone. Mike comes in at 2:26 with a tremendous solo that increases in intensity perfectly with the rest of the band as it ramps up. I want to point you to about 4:23, after Ed trails off the “some die just to live” line. They’re taking a moment to regroup and see where this is going to go, and Jeff seizes the opportunity and delivers a stellar bass line, almost a solo unto itself, anchored by a 4-note riff, but he’s in and around it, adding perfect little touches and accents that set up the ending. When the guitars start building, it gets harder to hear him, around 5:20, but he’s still there underneath it all, providing the foundation with Matt that everyone can build off. A monster version of a monster song.
Hope you guys enjoyed that, I wanted to give the bass player some love this week. Jeff is one of the most under-appreciated bassists in rock, he’s not flashy like some, you won’t hear very many bass solos, but he does everything well and his ability to lock in with Matt and complement Stone makes this band who they are.