Making of a Moment – Hartford, CT 10/2/1996
1996 is one of my favorite years in Pearl Jam history, not only because of the release of my favorite PJ record No Code, but because the bootlegs are so much fun to go back and listen to. The band was growing, and they had a newfound confidence with Jack Irons behind the drum kit.
In hindsight, I wish the band had been able to play a full tour of proper venues, it would have been incredible (Ticketmaster selling $1500+ “PJ Premium” branded tickets for the 2022 tour will never sit well with me). Last week on the podcast, we covered Hartford 1996, and my #3 Moment from that show is Animal.
Moment # 3
Animal explodes out of the speakers from the first note, propulsive and energetic. Stone is at full throttle, I’ve seen enough Stone clips to know he was probably making that Stone face and running around in a circle. Listen to Jack at 0:54, the drum fill he throws in here is jaw-droppingly good, and it only gets better from there. He’s so expressive, every beat feels like it’s part of 2 or 3 rhythms at the same time. Mike’s solo is very good here, but listen to Jack steal the spotlight at 1:45. We haven’t heard Animal like this before, it’s a standout performance.
The guitars don’t come in until 57 SECONDS into the song. 57 unadulterated seconds of Jack fuckin’ Irons playing In My Tree. That’s an entire Lukin! It’s as if he started playing it, and the rest of the band went “nope, we’re out, that’s too good” and just decided to watch. Ed waits 26 seconds to start singing the first verse! It’s perfect. The way Jack throws in the hi-hats when the guitars come in? Incredible. And there’s still 3 minutes to go! The way it opens up and breathes at 3:27 is sublime, it relieves all the built up tension and you just want to scream out and go crazy. Beautiful performance.
It had to be something special to keep In My Tree out of the #1 spot, and my #1 Moment from this show is Not For You. Watch Ed singing at 7:10; he’s starting to feel it, he’s got something on his mind, the gears are turning. As he plays the rhythm of the bridge, he decides to open up:
How’s it going out there? I was thinking about you guys ALL day.
Sometimes, like touring and playing, it’s like, uh, it’s like you’re away from home,
Sometimes it can feel a little bit like…work.
But then I thought, you know, all these fuckin’ people, they’re just coming to have fun.
So that’s what we came here for too.
So now we find ourselves playing this song, where it’s kinda, you know, a little bit angry, isn’t it?
There’s a few of ‘em like that, yea…but first of all, I wanna clarify that it ain’t for you, this song,
It’s not for you, it’s directed towards somebody, uh, a different entity.
I’m gonna go on here for a second if I can, ‘cause it’s kinda nice,
It’s not like you’re gonna be reading any interviews soon, or anything like that, so…
Sometimes, like people think that, uh, they’re more important than the people making the music,
The people that listen to the music, or the music itself.
And this is just a reminder
That they’re not.
Thanks for listening.
And he immediately jumps back into the song. Sometimes a break like that can kill the momentum of a song, you can lose the crowd easily. But Ed doesn’t. If anything, it only builds up the tension, he sounds unhinged on the last verse. Watch the way he spins away from the microphone at 12:40, full of joyous release. 8 minutes of your time well spent.
Thanks for checking this out, I have a lot of fun revisiting these moments every week, please go check out the Concertpedia reviews, everyone’s worked really hard to make that as good as we possibly can, there’s more coming very soon.