5 Up, 5 Down: Songs Pearl Jam Should and Shouldn’t Play This Tour

By: Mark Kirby | April 28, 2022

When people go to a Pearl Jam concert, they want the full live band experience. The music, the vibe, the fan atmosphere, all of it, and they hope to hear their favorite songs. Chances are, some will be played and some won’t. That’s the beauty of a band like Pearl Jam that has an extensive catalog. They can only pick so many songs a night to perform. It means they can switch things up in each city, and no two nights have to be the same. You never know what you are going to get. Evil Little Goat was performed for the first time ever in 2018, and who was expecting that song to be on the setlist!? Part of the Pearl Jam experience is guessing what the setlist will be for that show. If you’re like the typical “Jammer,” you’ve created multiple setlists. It’s hard to do without leaving some iconic songs off, but fun to do nonetheless.

Five Pearl Jam songs stick out to me as ones that should be left off the first leg of the 2022 Gigaton Tour, and there are five other songs I think should definitely be played. I narrowed down these two lists using two criteria: where Pearl Jam is artistically today, and the spirit of Gigaton. Pearl Jam has evolved into a more thoughtful and conscious band, and Gigaton shows us that.

5 Down

Let’s begin with the five songs that I think should not be on the setlist for the first leg of the 2022 Gigaton Tour.

1. Why Go

It is no doubt a fan favorite, and it’s such a powerful song. But for this upcoming leg of the tour, it just doesn’t fit. Gigaton is a more mellow album, more thoughtful and less in-your-face, so that song stands out as less in line with the album’s intent and style.

2. Rearviewmirror

Gigaton speaks to the present with songs like River Cross and Buckle Up, and Rearviewmirror is a song about leaving the past behind. Pearl Jam wants us to have our eyes open to what is happening in the world. In contrast, Rearviewmirror is more reflective and less forward-moving.

3. Mind Your Manners

Although the spirit of the song is relevant, it’s a lot for Ed to belt out. He is already going to have to push his vocals when singing songs from Gigaton, and Mind Your Manners requires so much for such an extensive tour. We want Ed’s voice to be healthy.

4. Brain of J

Similar to Mind Your Manners, it is a song that pushes Ed’s voice. In addition, the song does not fit within the current geo-political climate and within the spirit of Gigaton.

5. Hail, Hail

For now, Pearl Jam has moved on from songs about relationships and love. The band may revisit those themes, but for the first leg of the Gigaton tour, it doesn’t fit.

5 Up

While it’s hard to let go of those five songs for this tour, there are another five that should for sure be part of the setlist. The first two complement the spirit of Gigaton well.

1 & 2.  Of The Earth & Amongst The Waves

They are Of The Earth and Amongst The Waves. Gigaton has a strong environmental/climate change theme, and these two songs fit right in with a song like Retrograde.

3. Habit

Yes, I know I kept songs like Mind Your Manners and Brain Of J. off the setlist because they push Ed’s voice. However, not every one of those songs has to go. If a little care is taken, Habit could be performed in a way that protects his voice. It could be surrounded by songs that are less taxing, such as Wishlist, Buckle Up, or I Am Mine. Habit should be included because it is relevant. Drug addiction and drug use has increased since COVID, and this song reminds us how difficult addiction is.

4. Army Reserve

Performing that is a great way for Pearl Jam to pay tribute to what families in Ukraine are going through. We see images and videos of women and children leaving their husbands, fathers, brothers, and friends behind. Army Reserve would be a very powerful song during this first leg.

5. In My Tree

Pearl Jam reaches a new artistic level when they sing about being alone with your thoughts. In My Tree would be a great complement to a song like Alright. I hope everyone who is able to attend the shows has fun and cherishes the opportunity to see Pearl Jam live.

Mark Kirby

In 1991, my friends and I went to Chicago to see Soul Asylum, The Jayhawks, and my favorite band at the time, Ned's Atomic Dustbin. Pearl Jam just happened to be on the concert bill that weekend. I’d never heard of them before. They played State of Love and Trust about mid-set, and they’ve been my favorite band ever since.

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