A Deep Dive Into a Fan’s Treasure Trove of Pearl Jam Artifacts
“This one is for the serious collectors.”
When Ed makes this statement at a show, it’s understood that something extremely rare from Pearl Jam’s catalog is about to be played. Fans travel far and wide, and attend multiple shows, with the hope that they can get something they’ve never heard before. To some people, the collection of songs they’ve heard live is just as important as their poster or vinyl collection. It’s about the chase, the sense that something is going to happen on this night that no one has ever heard before or ever will again. Pearl Jam is a band that rewards these people; every setlist, every poster, and every record is crafted with the sense that it will be important to someone.
Because of this, much of the Pearl Jam culture revolves around aspects of collecting. Some people make sure they wait in line bright and early in order to get the unique, show-specific poster, and they make sure they have one from every show they’ve attended. Others may be driven to collect their music catalog on vinyl, seeking Vault releases, assorted colors of vinyl, and the holy grail for so many, the ultra-rare Live At Benaroya Hall release. Some people may have band autographs or even personalized memorabilia, but how many people can say they own four original Eddie Vedder paintings?
Eddie Vedder Paintings
Well, won’t you look at that? That’s exactly what these are, and they’re owned by a Pearl Jam fan named Alex Sink. These small paintings were done by Ed at the Brixton Academy show in London on July 13th, 1993. This story starts in the UK a year prior, where the band had their equipment stolen from them at knifepoint. At the Brixton show, the band once again had reason for panic, as their equipment was misplaced, but found shortly thereafter.
“One of the guys from Elite Security was able to find [the equipment] back in a corner, somebody had misplaced it,” Alex explains. “After that, Ed was gone for a while. He had painted these paintings and gave them to the security guy as a thank you for finding the equipment. They ended up being the first four songs that they did that night. He wrote the title of the song and initialed each one of them.”
The paintings, in order of setlist appearance, feature depictions of Why Go (multi-colored abstract, possibly a face), Deep (the blue downward slope reminiscent of Ed’s wave drawing), Jeremy (black and white) and Blood (red, with the texture of what Alex calls ‘microscopic blood cells’). When asked why he purchased them, Alex told us, “Why Go is the one that caught my attention and I said I can’t break this set up.” He added, “It would be a shame for them to get broken up.”
In addition, Ed left the security guard a letter along with the paintings, giving him a “fair warning” on what to expect if they went past the strict 11 pm curfew:
In the event of tardiness, just remember I will goddamn pay out of my own goddamn pocket the fuckin’ fees!
Love you, Ed
How does one acquire such a unique assortment of artifacts that would otherwise be lost to time? It’s due to a friendship that Alex developed with a photographer who he had purchased memorabilia from on eBay, David Bronstein. David is a UK-based concert and sporting event photographer who worked many of Pearl Jam’s earliest shows in the area.
The paintings were sold to him by the security guard they were gifted to, but he had also amassed a collection of other priceless items. Clothing from artists such as Scott Weiland and Courtney Love, including anything from leather and leopard print jackets to v-neck t-shirts and gloves. He also amassed a nice assortment of Pearl Jam setlists, that Alex currently has in his possession.
Alex recalls receiving the collection: “They were buried at some point, but he would dig them out and show them to me. Happened at the right time, he needed to sell some stuff and I was willing to buy.”
Of the six setlists he owns, five are from that first European tour run in 1992, including their first ever show in Europe at The Esplanade Club in Southend, UK. Some of the setlists he’s collected have autographs or drawings from band members. The Nottingham show is signed by Jeff Ament, and Ed made a little drawing of what looks to be a blockhead character. If you look on the sides of the head, you will see a hint of a signature as the letters E and D are marked on each side. Ed signed the Newcastle and Frankfurt setlists, and the Frankfurt setlist has a symbol above his signature, which looks like a “TX”. Also on this setlist, they pay respect to a man who would be a significant influence on their careers and lives in just over a year: in the spot where Rockin’ In The Free World was played, it’s written in the set as “Neil Fucking Young a.k.a God”.
The fifth European setlist is quite interesting. It’s from the Amsterdam show early in that tour. You’ll be able to see that on the left side is Jeff’s autograph and a drawing of a spiky-haired face that could only depict only one of two characters, Jeff Ament or Bart Simpson. On the right side you will see a little message written from Ed about a specific song request that was extremely popular at the time.
If you make
it out in ‘92 –
Esp 4 you we will
Play H/S – Eddie V
The “H/S” stands for Hunger Strike, the Temple of the Dog track that had gained major popularity in Europe well before being put into heavy rotation in the States during the summer of ‘92. On that night in Amsterdam, Ed, understanding that this was getting requested nearly every night on the tour, teased the crowd, calling for Chris Cornell to come out. When Pearl Jam returned to Holland in March, there were two instances where Hunger Strike was used as a tag, proving that Ed made good on his promise.
Signed Setlist Amsterdam 2/12/1992
There is one more feature in this Amsterdam setlist that is interesting. If you look in the right corner, there is a third signature that looks like an amalgamation of wave-like characters. Alex has no leads as to who it could’ve been, but if you look closely, it’s not out of the question that these waves could look like m’s. If you find a recent signature of Mike McCready’s, it’s not quite exactly what’s shown here, but there are certain similarities to some of the wave shapes. There is no real clear cut answer, but at the very least this provides an option that doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility.
The final setlist in his collection is from one of the earliest shows in the band’s catalog. So early that Dave Krusen was playing with them, but even earlier than you may think, because they were still going by Mookie Blaylock. It’s the February 7, 1991 show at Florentine Gardens in Los Angeles, known for having the live debuts of Garden and Brother, which was the only performance of the song until 2009. Alex recalls purchasing the setlist without having the specific details on what he was buying, “it was dumb luck, because when I bought it, I knew it was Mookie. I bought it before I even bothered to look it up because I knew I wanted it.”
Mookie Blaylock Florentine Gardens Setlist 2/7/1992
Inspecting the setlist, you’ll see right at the top how important this show was to the band. “With AIC” is written at the top. It was their first show outside of the Pacific Northwest, and opening for Alice In Chains was something that the band took great pride in, already having done it in three out of the seven shows played up until that point. Along with Eddie’s autograph on the bottom, you’ll also see Layne Staley’s going down the left side. On the right side, you see a signature that’s a little tough to make out. All you see is a C next to some scribbles with an anarchy-style A on top. It leads to speculation that it certainly could be the autograph of Jerry Cantrell’s, which if true would have the names of that night’s three singers and future legendary Seattle rock heroes all featured here.
Also of note, the spelling of ‘Realease’ with an extra a. Alex speculated on the possibility of what that meant: “My guess is, Eddie is always playing with words. From what I read into it, it’s their first real tour, their first show away from Seattle. So it’s a real lease on life, a real lease on everything. I think he just did a fun play on words that night because he was in a good mood.”
Outside of paintings and setlists, Alex also owns a CD that has Ed’s signature on it. You can look at the songs on the disc and see that they are not from an era that he’s obtained the other items from. It was signed during the 1995 tour, and there’s speculation that it could be from either New Zealand or Southern California. If you take a look at Ed’s inscription, the message goes along with the context of the featured song.
Spin the Black Circle Single Signed by Eddie Vedder
While this is where Alex’s collection of Pearl Jam artifacts ends for the time being, he was recently offered three other setlists that David had acquired previously. We know which shows two of the three setlists connect to – the set opening with Once is from the January 3, 1992 show at RKCNDY in Seattle. The setlist opening with State of Love and Trust is from the first night of the Lollapalooza tour in Mountain View, CA on July 18, 1992.
The third setlist is a complete mystery. Coordinating with Dave JanTausch from livefootsteps.org (without whom we wouldn’t have been able to connect with Alex in the first place), there is no setlist from their history that happened in this specific order. Which means one of two things; either this setlist was changed on the fly, or this is one of the 55 unknown or 25 incomplete setlists from 1991-1993 that we don’t have exact information on. This is a mystery, and whenever we stumble across a mystery, the Live On 4 Legs detective agency springs into action to see if we can solve the case! Let’s look at all of the information here:
Unknown Setlist Signed by Eddie Vedder circa 1991
Here is what we know from looking at this photo. This is a nine song set. The song here that took the longest to debut was State Of Love and Trust, which was played live for the first time in July of 1991 in Boston. On the side is a message from Ed that reads “things are getting better?” Could this be referring to Dave Abbruzzese joining the band? If so, that means it had to occur after the August 1991 Mural Amphitheater show in which Abbruzzese made his live debut.
The other information that we know is that the person who sold these setlists to David was a freelance roadie back in the early 90’s named Matt, who was based on the west coast, and therefore the most likely scenario is that this show took place in California. Matt passed away a few years ago, but after Alex discussed the setlist with David, he said that he’s “99.44% sure it was a 1991 setlist.”
Here is where we can start getting closer to our answer. The fall 1991 tour, where Pearl Jam opened up for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Smashing Pumpkins, on average resulted in half-hour sets featuring no more than six or seven songs. The song to keep an eye on here is Black. Out of the 15 known performances from October 14th until the end of 1991, only 8 of those shows were in support of the Chili Peppers. It could potentially be one of the remaining 7, but as none of those were on the west coast, we can most likely rule those out.
Let’s look at another scenario. They spent a week playing shows in California in early October, and on September 30th, they played a full set in San Francisco that has a bootleg on record. We also have setlist information for the Los Angeles shows on October 1st and 2nd, at the Cathouse and Troubadour respectively. In the setlist for the Cathouse, the first five songs match up with the first five on this set, but Garden and Deep are added before Black, Jeremy and Why Go are switched around, and the set closes with Release instead of Porch and includes I’ve Got A Feeling in the encore. Surely they have made drastic changes to setlists before, but going from nine to thirteen songs and having this many things changed around and not notated on the set seems like a little too much movement for this era.
They stay in California for a couple more days after. On October 3rd, we have information for a Temple Of The Dog reunion which Abbruzzese was not present for. It’s probably fair to rule out this date. The next show is on October 5th, at a small club called Winter’s in San Diego, that took place following the shoot of Chris Cuffaro’s version of the Jeremy music video. The only information we know from this night is that Jeremy was played, and Mike riffed on a few bars of Smells Like Teen Spirit. The probability of this show being our answer is likely the highest of the bunch. It meets the California criteria, the venue had 125 people so it makes sense that there would be less songs played (especially after a full day of shooting a music video) and it has so little information that it leaves the door open to many possibilities.
The next day, they play at The Palladium in Hollywood, which is a well-traveled bootleg. After that, they leave California, heading for Phoenix on the 7th. There were apparently reps from Sony at this low-attended show, and allegedly there is a videotape of this that exists somewhere. But the only information that we know is that Even Flow and Alive were both played. It wouldn’t be surprising if the set ended up being from this show, but again, the California connection makes us lean more towards San Diego. The final shows before the RHCP tour begins took place in Austin on October 9th, a show we have no info for, Dallas at Trees on October 10th, which we have info for, but it’s seemingly the same exact scenario as the Cathouse show where these two shows share the first eleven songs in the set. It doesn’t seem very likely that the changes needed to fit the direction of this setlist could have happened. Other possibilities that feel like a reach due to the locations are Houston on the 11th (I’ve Got A Feeling was the only notated song played), Atlanta on the 13th (unknown setlist) and Washington DC on the 15th (unknown setlist).
Overall, our research results are inconclusive for the time being. However, if you happened to be one of the very lucky few who attended any of these shows mentioned, please reach out to the detective team if you have any information that you can provide at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every collector has their holy grail item that they strive to get a hold of. For Alex, his grail is personal. Growing up 20 miles south of Erie, PA, he didn’t have a ton of access to Pearl Jam shows in the early 90’s. When he was old enough to attend shows by himself, there were none close by, so he settled for the 1996 Buffalo show, and would travel to Canada for the Barrie, Ontario (just north of Toronto) show in 1998. Those are his only shows to date.
Alex recalls Barrie being the more important of the two, “my best friend and his cousin and I took the road trip up to Toronto. I knew they always played good shows in Montreal and Toronto because they didn’t play a lot of Canadian shows,” states Alex. “If you’ve ever seen a picture of the tickets for that show, it says doors open at 11. Doesn’t have any information on who’s playing, nothing. We get over to the show to find out there was a music festival going on the whole day.”
Ticket Stubs for Buffalo, NY (1996) & Barrie, ON (1998) Shows
The festival had 35,000 in attendance in a grass bowl under the hot summer sun. Due to the lack of money between the three friends and family (his two friends were cousins), Alex and his crew had to share one water bottle for an entire day between the three of them. They were lucky enough to have a security guard let them out in order to grab a bite at Subway, but Alex didn’t have enough money on him to spend at the merch stand.
Cheap Trick went on before Pearl Jam, and Alex saw members of the band watching on the side stage. Eddie was swinging on a scaffold that led to Alex screaming out “don’t fall!” Eddie flipped him off and he gave the love right back. Unfortunately, there’s no video, but he has been able to take away a keepsake from this show. Alex says “somebody posted a picture from the concert in between Cheap Trick and Pearl Jam coming out, and I’m right on the edge of that big mass that’s in front of the stage before the rest of surge came. And they snapped the picture right where you can see me, clear as day, with my gray shorts and my blue shirt.”
This show had many memorable moments. It was the night that the Do The Evolution music video debuted, and the band had to play it at album speed in order to match the tempo of the video playing on the screen behind them. Cheap Trick superfan Mike McCready got to use one of Rick Nielsen’s guitars on State of Love and Trust, and the Man Trilogy was played. The crowd was a bit unruly the whole night according to Alex: “They changed the setlist after Alive because we were getting pretty rowdy in the pit. And Ed came back out and said it was too many people at once, next time we’ll play 3 shows at a smaller venue, get the same amount of people in kind of thing.”
Despite all the amazing memorabilia in his collection, this Barrie setlist would be Alex’s prize possession, if he ever were to acquire it. For one thing, he was there and hasn’t been back to a show since. Also, out of sheer curiosity: after Alive, as Alex said, they attempted to slow things down by playing Immortality. But there is still some mystery to this. “It would be interesting just to see what was originally gonna be coming after Alive,” Alex ponders. “We were having a good time, and he even commended us for taking care of everybody, but it was just a little too much.”
But there’s another, intensely personal reason why he’d love to have this setlist. “My best friend passed away in 2000 not long after this concert. He was in a car accident.” His name was Bill and he was one of the friends that traveled to Toronto. Shortly after Bill died, Alex had tickets to the Pittsburgh show on the Binaural tour, but didn’t go, because Bill was originally supposed to attend with him.
After that, Alex drifted away from Pearl Jam for a while, and was out of the loop until rather recently. “This is how out of it I got. My son was born in 2020. Coming home from the hospital, I heard Just Breathe for the first time. That’s how little I had been listening to the radio or anything like that. And it just got me right back into it.”
If it wasn’t for that moment, it’s possible that the Pearl Jam bug would have never hit Alex again. And now he’s passing it down to his children: “If I put Vs. on the console record player, [his son] crawls over there and by the time Animal comes out, he’s 14 months old and he’s doing the ‘1-2-3-4-5 against one’ with his hands.”
What’s next for his incredible artifacts? Some people like to hold onto these things to see them accrue in value and see if they can make profit in the future, but that’s far from the case here. He’d rather take the Indiana Jones approach. “I’d love if MoPop wanted to put them on display, I’m happy to loan it to them as long as it’s insured.” He continues, “I’m not trying to make money off of it. I’d love to see some good come from sharing [it all]. I don’t want anything in return.”
With the pride and enthusiasm of someone who grew up with the band and got back into them 20 years later, Alex profoundly states, “this is something that should be shared, something that should be in the spirit of Pearl Jam.”
If you have a collection of Pearl Jam artifacts that you would like to share for a featured story, send us an email at Liveon4legspodcast@gmail.com with information about what you’d like to display.
Only days after this feature was published, David Bronstein went back through his files and uncovered a couple more gems from his vault. This setlist derives from one of the four 1993 shows in Italy, where Pearl Jam opened up for U2 on their Zooropa tour. It was the second night of the Verona shows, and as the legend has been passed down through the years, Pearl Jam was not quite accepted by the Italian U2 contingent. As a bonus, we have a handwritten note from Ed detailing the reaction from that crowd:
I’m not so sure if the
U2 fans are so happy with us
But you know what the fuck
We will rock them! HA!
Love + Peace Ed Ved 7/93
Of course, Alex jumped at the chance to purchase these additional items, adding on to his already incredible collection.