5 Unforgettable Moments of Pearl Jam at Pinkpop
Joey Goodsir Highlights the Band’s Top Moments at the Landgraaf, NLD Music Festival
Ultimately, All The Memories Going Round is a blog series that illustrates how Pearl Jam identifies with a specific tour stop over the course of its history. Usually the band creates the moments, and we look back to tell the stories.
But in this place, they did the storytelling.
Pearl Jam has only played the Pinkpop Festival three times, but the fact that they have made the rare choice to truly bask in history upon each return trip says it all. From the moment a young Eddie Vedder brought his Polaroid camera onstage in 1992, Pinkpop became more than just a musical event held in the Netherlands around Pentecost weekend — it became an enduring encapsulation of Pearl Jam’s pop peak.
On June 18th, the band is set to kick off its 2022 European Tour in Landgraaf to pen a fourth chapter to this legacy. So put your Tivoli shirt on, and check out just some of the Pearl Jam Pinkpop moments that I think can summarize what has already been written. If the guys steal this exercise on Saturday, you’ll appreciate it all the more!
6/8/1992 – Pinkpop Festival – The Crowd “Hey”s, The Crowd Asks
The foundation of every band’s fanbase is its ability to belt out every single word of every single song. Many Pearl Jam fans find themselves taking that a step further, reciting what I like to call “live lyrics.” From a shouted “fuckers!” in Given To Fly to an emphasized “peace” in Corduroy, the faithful(l) tend to join Ed’s most iconic vocal tendencies that live outside the studio.
One of those “live lyrics” is platformed like never before during Why Go. Ed encouraging chants of “hey” over Jeff Ament’s thumping bass begins the first song of Pearl Jam’s set at Pinkpop ‘92, which was televised in full. At that moment, it was ingrained into the subconscious of fans all over the world. They have been doing it ever since, and if you ask — they likely associate it with Pinkpop.
Those who “survived the day” had a moment entirely to themselves by the first chorus too. An out-of-breath Ed gazes at a crowd as far as his eyes can see, shouting his own lyric back to him: “why go home?” The song has since found a most special home in festival-type settings, and it is clearly thanks to this impassioned performance.
6/8/1992 – Pinkpop Festival – All Eyes on Ed
On the count of four, following some of Ed’s many words of appreciation for the crowd and Holland in general, the band kicks into the sped-up fury of a main set closer in Porch. All of the debut Pinkpop performance is defined by its energy, and here the tank gets emptied as Stone, Jeff, and Mike quite literally take off running and thrashing. The rest is history, so I’ll be brief: there is a camera arm, and there is a stage-climber of a lead singer.
Following a momentary encore break, Dave Abbruzzese’s snare begins to snap, and Ed launches into an improv with Fugazi’s Suggestion and Talking Heads’ Pulled Up. Despite all of the rain-soaked exhaustion, one of the largest crowds in band history couldn’t have possibly been more intimately at its fingertips. By the end of a vintage 1992-style cover of Neil Young’s Rockin’ In The Free World, there was no denying that Pearl Jam was on top of the world. As sung following the iconic stage dive, “it’s a beautiful day.”
6/12/2000 – Pinkpop Festival – “We’re Finally Here”
Pearl Jam did not return to Landgraaf for a long eight years. Even though it had plenty of opportunities to visit other parts of its “international home” in the Netherlands, the beginning of its afternoon set in 2000 clearly illustrated that Pinkpop was something extra special for them. Matt Cameron’s drums are thumping and the guitars are tight right away, as Corduroy gets a clapping crowd engaged for an especially high-regarded show on an instrumental level.
But the band’s sentimentality goes beyond the musicality. Peeking out behind Ed’s more mature jacket is a new army green “Tivoli” shirt, referencing the donning of a shirt referencing the small venue during Pinkpop ‘92. As he utters an early lyric change in “we’re finally here,” Ed just can’t help but smile.
6/12/2000 – Pinkpop Festival – Kindred to Being an American
Sarcastically informing the Dutch crowd of the United States’ “advanced” overpopulation control method of giving each other guns and killing one another “‘cause it’s fuckin’ fun!”, Ed introduces Rival to the live stage for the very first time, opening a mini-set of songs that touch on gun violence.
Just fourteen months after the school shooting at Columbine which inspired the song, the performance lives up to the moment. Ed’s vocals remained controlled, but crescendo with emotion on the song’s bigger lines (i.e. “as this nation’s about to explode”). As was the case for so many Binaural performances in this set that are often acclaimed as best versions, the guitars lock in perfectly with Stone’s droning riff that carries through the entire song at perfect tempo. The idea that this debut remains unmatched is far from a hot take.
6/15/2018 – Pinkpop Festival – Bringing it Full Circle
Pearl Jam’s appearance at Pinkpop 2018 was characterized by a whole host of callbacks to its previous performances on that stage, a familiar practice for the band in its more storied locations. This included Interstellar Overdrive kicking off a Corduroy opener in reference to Pinkpop 2000, mentioning Matt Cameron performing with Soundgarden there in 1992, a Suggestion tag for the first time in 20 years, an all-early-‘90s encore, and a RITFW closer.
But there also was onstage banter unlike almost any other (as mentioned above), in which Pearl Jam does its own storytelling of an old moment — creating a new one in the process.
Ed reveals that a picture of his famous stagedive at Pinkpop ‘92 hangs in his house, and it presented a problem: the cameraman on the arm from which he jumped looked incredibly angry at him. This detail lost in the madness of an iconic show always wore on Ed, until he was miraculously able to reunite with the cameraman 26 years later in Amsterdam. Turns out he had just retired, and he had a far more positive side of the story. Shouts of “saw things so much clearer once you were in my rearviewmirror” makes for a celebratory way to cap off this full-circle experience.