Bold Predictions for Pearl Jam’s May 2022 Concert Dates
How can you predict what’s going to happen to one of the most unpredictable live bands of a generation? Knowing from experience, it’s extremely difficult. We’ve tried it before. Last year we made attempts to predict what was going to happen at Sea.Hear.Now and all three Ohana shows, and our guesses were way off base. While we might have expected that the band would pull off an emotional opener after a 3-year delay from playing live, such as Release or Long Road, they decided to flip the tables and kick off most of these shows with Gigaton tracks. There was also an expectation that they’d play their normal 30+ song set and get extended time, even at a festival, but they only maxed out at 24 for the final Ohana night.
So what happens now? Do the festival shows telegraph what they were originally planning to do in 2020? Or was it a one-off situation made to make the crowd happy and finally perform some of the new songs? I think we can say that the slate is wiped clean now. With arena shows returning to North America for the first time since May of 2016, we’ll be back to some semblance of normalcy. Will there be 3-hour-long shows every night? That remains to be seen. I think they’ll ease into it at first and start to stretch it out further as they get more comfortable. Just keep in mind that we have Josh Klinghoffer project PluralOne as the opener, the first consistent opener that the band has had since 2012. It may not factor too much into how much time the band lasts on stage for, but it certainly takes away the idea of a State College scenario.
So going back to the whole prediction thing…it’s impossible to figure out what’s in their heads, and for the most part, they probably have something better planned than I can even think of. But the idea of guessing is still a fun sport. What I did here is took all nine shows that they’ll be playing in May, and came up with one or potentially two things to happen that could make sense if they decide to take that direction. Mainly, it’s just fun to think about. Most of you know that I’m always trying to get into the band’s heads and think outside the box and put pen to paper on it. Just remember two things here: If anything from this list actually happens, I’m an absolute Pearl Jam genius. If nothing happens, then you are a fool for trusting me. And away we go!
Bold Prediction #1
May 3rd: San Diego, CA – Long Road opener
I think that many of us assumed that when Pearl Jam arrived in New Jersey last September, there would be no other choice for a first song back than Long Road. Although they sound-checked it the day before, they went in a different direction on the night of and we were greeted right away with Dance Of The Clairvoyants. I think it’s different this time around. Arena shows give off such a different atmosphere than festivals do. The band is able to look up, down, left, right and behind them and see nothing but a sea of people surrounding them. Because of that layout, you’re able to hear the voices from all sides of the room reverberate and give you a perfect balance of noise and harmony. Festivals have no crowd elevation. It’s kind of compact in the front and then widens as you get further out, but all of those voices in the back are very difficult for the band to hear. It can even be a challenge to get the sense of what the full scope of a festival crowd sounds like on bootleg. So this gives me reason to believe that the slow burn open will be back, whether it’s for one or multiple songs.
There is no better song to kick off the 2022 tour with than Long Road, especially due to the location they’ll be in. It’s always been considered a San Diego song because the song’s inspiration came from the passing of Eddie’s high school theater teacher, Clayton E. Liggett. The story told during the 2006 San Diego show may go down as one of the most emotional speeches ever expressed on stage. Ed found out about his death while in the studio recording Mirrorball. He took some time by himself and found a guitar, strumming a single chord repetitively, attempting to imitate the sound of a bell ringing as a way to honor Clayton. The other guys heard what he was doing, picked up their instruments and followed along leading to the creation of the song. There is no better or other option for this night, it both speaks to the history of the band in San Diego and lyrically defines exactly what it’s been like to get to this point. To me, this has to happen and seems like the closest thing to a lock on this list.
Probability of Long Road being the opener in San Diego – 90%
Bold Prediction #2
May 6th: Los Angeles, CA – Andrew Watt Joins In/An Earthling Song Is Played
This one may not be a popular opinion, but all logistics say that it makes sense in a few ways. First off, one has to wonder where the band will be in their two off days prior to these shows. Los Angeles is where Andrew Watt, Earthling producer and future Pearl Jam album producer, has his studio located. Perhaps they stop by to lay down a few tracks or check out some of the material that they’ve previously recorded. It’s well documented how big a Pearl Jam fan that Andrew Watt is, and while playing with Eddie and the all-star Earthling band may have been a dream come true, the true dream is to be doing his best Mike McCready Jr. impression right alongside him. We know how much Eddie respects him and it’s seemed to rub off on the rest of the band as well.
However, the question is what will he play? To be perfectly honest, I don’t think he’s the kind of guest that’s gonna jump aboard the Rockin’ In The Free World train and call it a day. I think there are two possible options here, one being a pipe dream and one perhaps more likely. The pipe dream is that they feel comfortable enough with a brand new song that they’re working on with him to bring it to the table as an early showcase. The more likely scenario is that the band makes their first attempt as one of Ed’s solo record songs. But which one would they choose? It would have to be something exciting that will get over with the crowd. My initial thought, since they only played it once on the 8-show mini-tour, is Good And Evil. I think that song would sound really good with Jeff’s bass crunch and it has Matt Cameron’s machine-like drive. However, it’s probably more likely that they take a safer route, so expect Long Way or Brother The Cloud instead.
Probability of Andrew Watt Joining – 95%
Probability of Hearing An Earthling Song – 70%
Bold Prediction #3
May 7th: Los Angeles, CA – Tribute To Taylor Hawkins
I will have to tip my cap to Brendan Palomo of the Better Band Podcast for this one. In our recent Pearl Jam Tour Fantasy League Draft, he himself made a bold choice by going off the board to select Pearl Jam to play the Foo Fighters song “Best of You” as a tribute to Taylor Hawkins, whom the world lost less than a month ago. Last October at Ohana, Hawkins was the frontman for a band named NHC, featuring Jane’s Addiction members Dave Navarro and Chris Chaney, and a myriad of other 90’s rock ‘n’ roll legends as guest stars.
There is a wonderful photo from that day that, along with the members of NHC, features Chad Smith, Eddie, Beck, and Pat Smear. In October, it was a photograph of what may be seen as a bygone era of rock. A good reminder that if you look in the right places, the music we love is still alive and kicking.
Photo Credit: Katrina Barber
Looking at this picture now, it becomes a reminder that life is way too short. We’ve lost countless rock heroes and idols who made their biggest impact at a time where music was so special to us. The loss of Taylor has not only affected the millions of us who sought comfort and entertainment within his music, but the many many peers who had the utmost respect for everything he did. Every member of Pearl Jam can be included in that conversation. It’s likely something that they are still trying to process and come to terms with, but they are no strangers to turning grief into a moment of tribute. Whether it’s a speech and dedication prior to one of their own songs or any Foo Fighters song they come prepared with, they will have something in store to celebrate his memory. Why LA? Taylor grew up in Long Beach. While Branden made a good choice selecting “Best of You”, I think that “Times Like These” and “My Hero” could be possibilities as well.
Probability of a Tribute To Taylor Hawkins – 95%
Probability of a Foo Fighters Song Covered – 55%
Bold Prediction #4
May 9th: Glendale, AZ – A New Closer?
While there are much more unpredictable aspects of Pearl Jam than not, one of the most reliable aspects of this band is knowing what song will close out your night. You don’t really have too many options. It’s either Yellow Ledbetter, Indifference, Rockin’ In The Free World or another party atmosphere kind of cover that usually involves some special guests like All Along The Watchtower. That’s pretty much it.
Glendale could be the perfect venue to shake things up. It’s taking place on a Monday, which is pretty much a day where no one expects anything special to happen, so why not get people talking? It’s tough to come up with some options because they feel just so sparse, but I’m gonna start on a few easy options and work my way down. Rearviewmirror is the first one that sticks out to me. It’s only been used as a closer twice, once famously during the Ice Bowl in 2000 where it was likely way too cold to play any more songs afterward. It would bring the house down, but I think that’s the problem, the crowd may feel the need for more.
How about Elderly Woman? I have this one in mind due to the Orpheum Theater vinyl release. The show closed out with I’ve Got A Feeling, but Elderly Woman was the final track on side D. It would fit the similar nature of a Ledbetter or Indifference, being slower paced and ending on a happy note. The screaming “hello” part may not fit the narrative of closing out a show, so let’s choose a song that has lyrics that do. Last Exit works for that. They’ve only closed with it once, but it makes so much sense to change the lyrics to ‘this is, this is, OUR last exit’ as the official way to say goodbye. Why Go may fit with that as well. One last option from Gigaton that seems like it may be the best fit would be River Cross. It’s a finale type song that the crowd doesn’t have any prior reps or real connection with live. They’d be creating new history by configuring this one into the mix. Although I don’t think this is as much as a ‘will they/won’t they’ that we may want it to be.
Probability of a New Show Closer – 30%
Bold Prediction #5
May 12: Oakland, CA – Eddie Solo Pre-Set Returns
Back in the late 90’s and early to mid 2000’s, to entice the crowd to get to their seats early and make sure that they watched the opening act, Ed would make a quick appearance before the show began to play something solo on acoustic. There have been dozens of songs used for that spot. Some rare such as Dead Man and Throw Your Arms Around Me to a more common choice such as Porch, Last Kiss or You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away. Whatever it was, it would become highly anticipated during that time period and would indeed accomplish Ed’s goal of getting people to stick around for the opener.
This will be the fifth show of the tour and by then, I’m sure most people following the band around for a few nights will be a little tired of Josh Klinghoffer’s PluralOne. Nothing against Josh, but they’ll be seeing him enough during the important parts of the night not to bother with this. It may be a bit tough to determine which songs Ed would choose for this. Maybe this is a good spot for Ed to make either a political or anti-war statement and play something like a Masters Of War or Gimme Some Truth, or with the same idea, make an attempt at something such as Imagine to get the crowd in singalong mode. I think there will be a decent chance that they’d want to lure fans into watching Josh perform as they have an immense amount of respect for the former Chili Pepper and current part time Pearl Jam member.
Probability of an Ed Pre-Set – 60%
Bold Prediction #6
May 13: Oakland, CA – A Song From Every Album… Consecutively
The Oakland shows were initially set to be the finale of the 2020 Gigaton tour’s first leg with the final night set for Saturday, April 19th. That date was intended to be Record Store Day for that year, but was obviously postponed. The band is no stranger to RSD, having had many exclusive vinyl releases featured on that day such as Live At Easy Street, and this coming June, the Live On 2 Legs reissue.
There was also something incredibly special that happened on that day in 2016. In Greenville, South Carolina, after a tour in 2014 that featured two full length albums performed live, the band decided to play Vs. in its entirety. After the original tour in 2020 was postponed, one of the things we did on social media was post a fake curated setlist as to our guesses of what would have been played on that date. I believe we followed suit with the history of 2016 and either made the show a Gigaton full album show or Vitalogy. It would be tougher to do that this year since the postponement date doesn’t happen to fall on RSD this time, but I think there’s a possibility for a not so subtle tribute.
Back in 2003, in Holmdel, New Jersey, the band used the entire main set to play two songs from every album in consecutive order. I won’t use that as the exact prediction since back then they were only working with seven studio albums instead of the eleven we have now, but I think there is a good chance we could see one song from every album from Ten to Gigaton with perhaps something from Lost Dogs or Merkinball wedged in between. It’s incredibly rare to see a show where every album is represented nowadays. Instead, the band would likely opt for a bulk of songs from an album that doesn’t get utilized as much live (more on that in a second…) and mix it in with the other more common tracks that are usually played. This is a bit out of the wheelhouse for this era, but never say never is certainly a phrase we use around here.
Probability of Playing a Song From Every Album Consecutively – 25%
Bold Prediction #7
May 16: Fresno, CA – Binaural Night
As I mentioned in the prior entry, there are shows when the band tends to take a bunch of songs off of one album and unload them into one night. Toronto 2016 notwithstanding, the opportunity to see a song from Binaural get played in the last ten years is slim to none. The album wasn’t even represented at the two-night PJ20 anniversary shows in 2011.
The reason why I bring up Binaural for Fresno is because the only time that the band played a show there was 22 years ago, in 2000. Whenever the band returns to a place for the first time in a long time, Ed will usually make a remark or tell a story about what happened there long ago. From time to time he’ll back that up by saying something along the lines of ‘we played this one that night and we’re gonna play it now’. On that day in 2000, they only performed five of the thirteen album tracks, with the most intriguing song being Parting Ways as the main set closer. There is clearly a lot of material from the album that the locals may still be looking for, so in this bold prediction maybe we could see something like a Grievance or Rival be played. We’re hoping for multiples, but if it’s just one then I think a majority of us will be pretty satisfied.
Probability of Playing Multiple Binaural Songs – 35%
Bold Prediction #8
May 18th: Sacramento, CA – Chris Cornell Tribute/Comes Then Goes Live Debut
On May 18th, 2017, we all woke up to the heartbreaking news that Chris Cornell had passed away in his hotel room just after a Soundgarden show. Just like the news about Taylor Hawkins, many of us sat in disbelief as one of our heroes and idols, whose music kept us sane for so many years, was no longer here to provide that comfort. As difficult as it was for a fan to process, just imagine how much worse it was for someone like Matt Cameron, who had played in a band with him going on four decades. Or Stone and Jeff, who grieved with him after the sudden loss of Andy Wood in 1990. Or Ed and Mike, who considered Chris as one of their brothers. It took a while for the band to address the loss head-on. They have been too hesitant to talk about it in interviews or on stage just because the pain was still too severe.
In 2018, without really mentioning Chris by name, at Safeco and Wrigley Field they performed the song Missing that was written by him and recorded for the Poncier EP that was released alongside the Singles soundtrack. Ed has seemed much more comfortable with the idea of talking about him through metaphors in his lyrics. Brother The Cloud is one fairly obvious example, but there’s also Comes Then Goes, that touches up on the potential of what their friendship might’ve been like near the end and how Ed was affected in the aftermath.
On the day of the fifth anniversary of his passing in Sacramento, it would be impossible not to address the date and some of the thoughts and emotions he has circling in his mind. Comes Then Goes is the only Gigaton song that has not been played live yet. As a tribute to Chris, this would be the most appropriate usage of the song that in total might not be played much more than five times overall. This night should be the debut.
Probability of a Chris Cornell Tribute – 100%
Probability of Comes Then Goes Live Debut – 85%
Bold Prediction #9
May 20th: Las Vegas, NV – Longest Show Of The Tour, Will Exceed 33 Songs
Let’s end on a high note here as the last show in the run of nine will take place in Vegas on a Friday night. Vegas was never on the docket for 2020, so this one may feel extra special for a lot of fans that may have been shutout in the initial ticketing process. This show should feel like a party. The last time that they played in the MGM Grand Arena was in 2006, so this is 16 years in the making. They’ve had some legendary moments in that building and in the city itself (stick around for that feature in the not so distant future…), that this one being the last night of what will be an important leg for them will end up matching that energy. Fast songs? Check. Rare songs? Multiple.
Guests and OTOTOs? Not out of the realm of possibility. Elvis? Shake, Rattle and Roll! They need to go out with a bang in order to settle down for a month and prepare for the European run, and with all the good vibes and energy in the air, why not surpass curfew and keep this going until the casinos close? Oh, you’re saying they don’t close? Well, might as well burn the entire thing down then.
Some song choices for the serious collectors: Fatal, All Those Yesterdays, No Way, Rival, Help Help, Glorified G, Marker In The Sand, Hitchhiker, Cready Stomp, Falling Down, Happy When I’m Crying, Santa God, Olympic Platinum, and Fuck Me In The Brain. If I hit on one of those, I’m hitting the tables hard after the show.
Probability of Longest Show Of The Tour – 90%
Probability of Exceeding 33 Songs – 80%