Aurelien’s European Excursion: Recaps of Pearl Jam’s Euro Tour

By: Aurélien Moureaux | June 25, 2022

25/02/2022, I am sleeping by myself tonight.

Today is Imola, one of the two shows that I will not attend for sure. Getting there would have been a nightmare, and while Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, I kind of anticipated organizational issues and a rough crowd.  Maybe I’m biased by my experience in Milan in 2014. The show was awesome but the pre and post show was a nightmare. Having been almost hit by a full speed car on a pedestrian street is not a great souvenir.

I am also glad I did not pick this one because it turns out that my oldest son has his last soccer game of the season today and his last table tennis tournament will happen tomorrow. In addition, my wife is out tonight with her colleagues as school is almost out for summer. I am then sleeping by myself tonight, and I will also be able to see if I have post traumatic FOMO for tonight’s show.

See you in Frankfurt (hopefully).

 

24/04/2022, I’m in hiding

Zürich happened to be a really really good show. I have seen controversies and negativity for this show in the PJ forum. Let me address a few points. First, the crowd was said to be ‘dead’. I don’t know where the writer was placed, but the crowd was awesome in the front of stage section. Everyone was chanting their lungs out and there was a lot of positive energy. Second, while the setlist might be considered standard on paper, there were lots of long/jam songs that enabled each member of the band to shine. The setlist was not the best I have ever seen, but the flow was really good and as the crowd was most likely one of the best I have encountered, the experience of seeing this show definitely added an extra point…and I’m pretty sure that the bootleg will not do justice to this show.

The 4h30 drive to go to Zürich went fast and there was a huge parking lot next to the venue, way easier than festival dates where you have to walk, take a bus and then walk again. Having picked up my tickets and found my ticket buddy, I took a nap in my car because I knew that the 4h30 drive after the show would be quite exhausting. I then only queued at 4:30pm, but the 10C queue was way shorter than the Berlin one. While there were most likely more than 500/750 people queuing early in Berlin, there were only around 100 fans queuing in Zurich. This show was the only one of the European tour for which the odds were lower than 99%, around 75% if my memory serves me well. However, by putting Zürich as the first request, you were essentially sure to have them. 

This show gave me the opportunity to meet my friend Laurent, who was my ticket buddy for an Eddie Vedder show in Brussels in 2019. We were almost born on the same day (July 11th for me, July 12th for him), have roots in the same region of France, and share a common love for the Belgian band K’s Choice. K’s Choice is the band that I have seen the most, with 21 times. Pearl Jam is my number 2 with 16 times, and it should soon become my number 1 if things go well. It was great to queue with him and discover that we had actually been to the same shows several times in the early/mid 2000s. His goal was to be as close as possible to the stage but mine was to be at the back of the front of stage section. We separated accordingly, but I had second thoughts: I could be in the third row if I joined him and we could also continue a great chat. I then decided to join him and come back if necessary but I finally spent all the show in the fourth/fifth row. I’m usually a loner but seeing the genuine joy on his face was a confirmation that every show is someone first or someone favorite. Spoiled whiny board members should remember that sometimes.

The band started with Release. While the streak of unique openers stopped, getting Release was a treat. The crowd in the front section was at the top of their game. We then got Even Flow and similarly to Pinkpop, I think that the song works way more in the early spots. Mike was on fire and the band was super tight, way better than in Berlin. It was now time for a great version of Corduroy. I have read fans complaining about the sound of the show but there was no issue where I was, lucky me. Ed spoke in German and thanked the crowd before another emotional moment with Immortality. Matt displayed his drumming proficiency in the ending/jam part of the song. After 15 shows without ever really paying attention to him, I finally discovered what he could bring to the table. I will for sure watch him way more for future shows.

Eddie mentioned COVID, praised Josh, and Dance of the Clairvoyants was played. The surrounding crowd started dancing and moving but in a very well-mannered way, exactly what I like. The band continued to explore Gigaton with the effective Quick Escape. Similarly to previous shows, the dual solos were quite amazing. He then spoke about the show that happened in the same room 22 years ago and explained that he remembered it because he met his wife the day before in Milan. He then explained that there are lots of daughters in the band before Daughter is played. I know some fans have some fatigue with this song but I don’t and never will. The jam was very interesting as WMA and Leash were tagged. The crowd interaction was at his best during the tag with calls and responses. Another crowd pleaser was played with Given to Fly. Not much to say, as the renditions of the song are usually quite similar, but much appreciated. Seven O’Clock made its European debut and while it was initially one of my least favorite Gigaton songs, the live version made me understand the greatness in it.

The band continued with Evolution and Animal. Eddie left lots of parts for the crowd to sing in Do the Evolution, and Animal was stopped and resumed due to a crowd issue. It is a shame, as it ruined the song for me, and it’s one of my favorites. Starting Present sense ensured that the momentum was not fully broken before the too-little-played In Hiding made its appearance. I was able to see it once before, and it is part of the songs that I feel lucky to witness a second time. Jeff switched to the 12-string bass for an epic Jeremy. Hearing Jeremy 30 years ago turned me on to the band, and I have always appreciated it, as it brings me back to those old days. My admiration for the songwriting of the song never faded, and the crowd really elevated the song with the chants at the end. The band continued to please my combined 12 years/42years with Why Go. What I really like about songs from Ten is the dual guitars and how Stone wrote lots of interesting textures for these songs.

After 2 and a half shows, we finally got a Boom moment with Crazy Mary. With COVID, I was thinking that we could never get this song back and I am glad we got it. The solo section was unusual, as Mike left most of the room for Boom to shine. The set started almost 90 minutes ago, and It was time for Porch to close it. Except for the Animal incident, the flow of the show was really good with few pauses. There were lots of jam songs and I enjoyed how it enabled me to focus my attention on the musicality of the band members.

After a short break, Stone came back with a bass and Jeff with a guitar. I finally got to see Smile played live. It was the most common song I had not seen so far. As I never watch videos of the band, I only just now realized that it was Jeff, and not Mike, who played the lead guitar! The band then transitioned into Black. I took a look at a Swiss fan that attended his first show tonight with his girlfriend. I could see the joy on his face and I was proud of myself for letting him take my initial spot closer to the stage. As I say, it is always someone’s first show and I am glad he had such a show. The show ended with Alive and I was also proud of myself for enjoying it as much as I could. My 2018 self would have been bored, and I am glad I am not that guy anymore.

It was time to say goodbye to Laurent and to drive back home. We should meet again in Frankfurt in a couple of days and I’m really looking forward to this show.

 

23/06/2022, Got a car, got some gas

Today is a national holiday in Luxembourg, but not in France. I won’t be working, but my kids have to go to school, meaning that I had to wake up early. I am already feeling the outcome of sleep deprivation and it will not be better tomorrow.

So, Pearl Jam is finally back in Zurich. They have not played there since 2000, and the previous shows dated back to 1992 and 1996. With the exception of a date in 2006 in Bern, it has been quite a drought for Switzerland. Looking at the logistics, Zurich is a 4h30, boring drive through France and Switzerland. I will drive back after the show as I work on Friday morning, and also because hotels are extremely expensive in Switzerland…and pretty much everything is. The last time I went there was for a Metallica show in 2019 and I have great memories of the overall experience, including a very nice and well-mannered crowd. For the record, and with my Pearl Jam experience, I was at the venue at 7:00 pm and did not find the queue…because I was the first in line. The venue is not the same but let’s hope that everything will be smooth. 

There is a front of stage section for this show meaning that my strategy will be to secure a spot at the back of the FOS section: no pressure from behind and the natural tendency of fans to go to the front will leave me space. One of my objectives for this tour is also to enjoy the shows from different perspectives in different kinds of venues. Speaking of the venue, this show will be the first arena show of the leg and it will be scrutinized by many fans in terms of length of the show and the variation in the setlist. I might be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that Pearl Jam will play a 2h show. Why? Easy, because the band is expected on stage at 8:45 pm while the curfew/end of show indicated in the venue website is 11pm…and there is not a chance that rules are not followed in the German speaking part of Zurich.

Regarding predictions, and after two shows, I believe that the likelihood of having deep deep-cuts is really low. I am then going with Garden as a throwback to 1992 and with Seven O’Clock & Alright for their European debut. Regarding the opener and assuming that they continue the streak, Can’t Keep and Hard to Imagine would be great, but my guess is that the band will go for something more straight to the face. What about State of Love and Trust?

 

22/06/2022, Berlin, Riding high amongst the waves

Berlin is almost over for me as I’m waiting for the train to the airport. It’s 4:45 and the sun is slowly rising.

Yesterday went really fast. I started my day by wandering in the city, something I have never properly done before. Berlin is a beautiful city, very green and spread out. In addition, I have always felt safe here and the public transport is cheap and super effective. In most aspects, Berlin is what Paris is not. Spoiler alert: be prepared for lots of Paris bashing in July, I can already write all the things that will not be okay.

Coming back to Berlin, I arrived at noon at the venue to pick up my tickets. The merch line was really long, which was explained by the fact that only one booth was open. Having picked up my ticket, I finally met my friend Pawel and then got in touch with my ticket buddies for this show and for Copenhagen. It turns out I had already queued with them in 2018 in London. Lots of faces are familiar, it seems that the Pearl Jam die-hards family is not that big in Europe.

I then paid my respect to Chris from the Pearl Jam Ventricles Pumping podcast. Coming from New Zealand with his partner, he will spend 6 weeks in Europe, visiting various countries and attending several PJ shows. I will see him again for sure.

In the 10C queue, one thing was worth mentioning, you barely heard German. Lots of people were actually coming from Italy, Poland, the UK, and more than ever from the US. Being able to secure tickets quite easily, and having the USD quite strong against the Euro, are most likely factors explaining that attending shows in Europe might be easier than attending east coast US shows.

We entered the venue at 4 pm and I opted for a seat. I could have been third or fourth row in the pit but decided to go for a seat. It’s been a long day, I have not recovered from Pinkpop yet, and I already got the rail in Pinkpop. Moreover I was still wearing my face mask and did not want to be too close to other people. Pinkpop was really laid back and when you had the rail, you really had more space than behind. I also remembered that the pits in Berlin were quite rough in 2014 and 2018 with crowd surfers.

At 6:30 pm, White Reaper started a short 30 minute set. I had never heard their music before and did not really catch anything special. The crowd did not really pay attention and having an opening act did not really bring something.

Pearl Jam started a few minutes before 8 pm. The excitement and joy of the fans were palpable.

Continuing the streak of openers, the set started with an energetic Why Go. Similarly to Pinkpop, the band seems to be in a good mood and Mike nailed the solo.

Hail, Hail followed but something was off, a guitar seemed to be detuned. The issue was fixed midway through the song.

Jeff Ten-era bass was brought to the stage and the band played a very heavy version of Deep. Deep is the Ten song that I am really looking for. The dual guitars and the destructured solo always impressed me and brought me back to 1992. Of course Eddie could not match the craziness of the vocal performances of that era but he did a pretty good job.

Things slowed down a little bit with a long and sweet version of Untitled followed by an energetic and fast version of MFC. Eddie greeted the crowd in German, but it was not a day for long speeches as he started Small Town. Similarly to Pinkpop, the theme of the song seemed to be more that appropriate after 4 years of absence.

The band then transitioned into Low light. The band was a bit sloppy since the beginning of the set and this song suffered more than the previous one. After a short break, it’s Evolution baby! The band was finally fully tight and the crowd was full of energy. The band/crowd interaction was at its best and the next song suffered from it.

Indeed, Gigaton finally made an appearance with Retrograde. The reaction of the crowd was mixed, especially for the first part of the song. I have to say that it is one of my least favorites of the album, and it seems that I am not the only one. The issue is that the first part of the song is very long. As the opener, it would have worked probably well but not in the middle of the first set after Evolution. The second part of the song, when everyone gets electric, was really good though.

Josh was then introduced and praised before the band launched a well-rendered version of Dance of the Clairvoyants. Lots of dance moves in the crowd, lots of people singing along, this song is already a staple, as the next two are.

Indeed, it was time for Even Flow and Quick Escape to be played. It’s hard to really add something that has never been said on Even Flow. Mike killed the solo once again and even adventured himself out of the stage to play right in front of the first row.

Quick Escape was for sure the most popular Gigaton song played. The energy in the pit was similar to Evolution. Eddie still struggled in the chorus, and the backing vocals of Josh were a bit too high, meaning that the combined voices were a bit rough. However, the instrumental sections were flawless. Stone’s guitar pieces, combined with Mike and Jeff solos, were at their best.

The band then ventured into an epic Superblood Wolfmoon. Lots of clapping, lots of positive vibes in the crowd, definitely my favorite Gigaton song played so far in the European tour.

After so many songs played, it was time for Eddie to speak a little bit. He explained that the band would play a request for a couple that met at 12 and were together for 25 years. He then made a comparison with Jeff and Stone. Stone was also 12 when he met Jeff but Jeff was already 15. Ed then joked about the fact that Stone had most likely still a high pitched voice at the time while Jeff had already a low voice and big balls…which explained why he picked bass and Stone the guitar. The joke went further with Eddie explaining that he had actually never seen Jeff’s balls, while Stone might have. It was a funny moment for sure. Eddie finally came back to the song request and explained that the husband also had to fight with him in order to get his wife’s love. Good for me, the request was Amongst the Waves, one of my white whales. Ed struggled a bit vocally but it was good to hear such a good song that deserves to be more played in my opinion.

Eddie then started a short alternate intro of Corduroy before branching into the usual intro. Needless to say that the crowd was full of energy for this one. While I’m usually not a big fan of the bridge with the ‘yeah/yeah/yeah’ it was very effective this time. Interesting to mention, he started the song on a Sunburst Les Paul before switching mid-song to his usual Telecaster.

Without any transition, Corduroy went directly into Not For You with the usual, but always enjoyable, Modern Girl tag at the end. I have to confess that I have never really liked this song, but it might have changed thanks to this performance. The sounds of the guitars were really thick and it brought a different vibe to the song, more metal and less garage…exactly what suited my taste.

While you may have expected the end of the set, the band went into Nothingman. Unfortunately, the crowd surfers killed the vibe and Eddie had to stop singing, reminding them of the safety rules and joking that it was not a song appropriate for crowd surfing.

As the band played in Berlin, the Ramones museum had to be mentioned before a cover of I Believe in Miracles, full of stamina. Eddie mentioned beforehand how miracles come from few women and men capable of great things.

After the song, he bantered about politics and COVID before mentioning a fan named Roland that got ALS recently and was in a wheelchair, while he was still in good health when he bought his ticket in 2020. There was a campaign in the forum asking the band to play Rearviewmirror for Roland. Roland was invited on stage with his wife and daughter and it was an emotional moment for sure. It was also a reminder of how things could unexpectedly change quickly and sometimes not for the best.

Surprisingly, the band got into Porch and not into Rearviewmirror. Porch was really good, and I would say as always, but the magic of the 2018 performance in that same venue was not recreated. Too few cupboards were provided this year to the crowd.

The band went off stage, only to be back after less than 5 minutes.
It was the harmonica moment with Footsteps. I saw this song played a couple of times but I have never enjoyed it that much.

To my surprise, they played Street Fighting Man again. Will it be the new recurring cover?

Eddie kind of teased the end of the show before Mike started the Yellow Ledbetter riff, which felt weird after the Stones cover. Midway through the song, Eddie made a sign to cut it short and the band started an awesome rendition of Alive. Similarly to Pinkpop, finishing the set with Alive proved to be really effective. The band then greeted the crowd, and the show ended to the disappointment of a big part of the crowd.

It is now time to speak about the elephant in the room. While the first section of the show was very well paced and lasted 100’, the encore was considered too short by a crowd used to having more. Having attended the show before, I was not really surprised that the show ‘only’ lasted 2h but lots of fans were. While queuing in the afternoon, some fans were questioning what would happen in terms of show length but most of them were pretty sure that the band would play a long set. I had no expectations and thus no disappointment. This was my mantra for this tour, but I understand the fans though, especially the ones that could not attend several dates.

Top 3 moments :
Corduroy into Not For You
Do the Evolution
Superblood Wolfmoon
See you in Zurich for the next stop.

21/06/2022, He’s…flying!

Pearl Jam Berlin 2022 Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town

I have strictly applied the 2 hour rule and am at the airport at 4:30. It was useless, however, as 15 minutes later I’m already at the gate.

I can already see a couple of flights cancelled on the screen, and I hope I will not face such an issue in the coming weeks. Due to work and family commitment, I always fly early in the morning, but there is a risk in doing so.

Traveling to follow Pearl Jam is no joke if you are not single and have kids. I am thankful that my wife tolerates my travels. I have met so many fans explaining that 1 or 2 shows was the maximum they were allowed. I totally get that, because let’s be honest, the time and money involved in this tour is time and money I am not using for my family. I am always conflicted on this matter, is it okay to be selfish? Or is it necessary to feed your needs in order to be fully available the rest of the time? I don’t know the answer, but I will have to reflect on that after the tour, we will see how it turns out.
This will be my third time in Berlin for a Pearl Jam show, after 2014 and 2018. Those shows were stellar, the venues were awesome, the crowd was the best, and the setlists were great.

As in 2018, the band will play in Waldbühne, which could be roughly translated as Forest Stage. The venue is an outdoor theater built in the 1930s for the 1936 Summer Olympics. It is located in a very pleasant green area of the city. It is a full GA venue with a very small pit.

I will for sure go for a seat. I have not fully recovered from the Pinkpop show, and cannot see myself standing in the pit the whole day. In addition, the view and acoustics are really great from the seats. This show will give me the opportunity to meet a couple of fans, and particularly my friend Pawel from Poland.

We met in Amsterdam 2018 and found ourselves queuing together for more shows, notably in London. We then met once again during the EV 2019 tour in Düsseldorf and were supposed to see each other in 2020. Quite a delay.
Festivals aside, this will be my first Pearl Jam show with an opener since 2012. The ‘Evening with Pearl Jam’ shows are dead and gone, which might sound disappointing, but might also ensure more shows for the future.

Thinking of the setlist, there will most likely be more Gigaton songs compared to Pinkpop. I expect the European debut of Seven O’clock and would be thrilled to hear Who Ever Said or Alright.

There was a campaign for Rearviewmirror to be played and I can see this one coming. Given the nature of the venue, Low Light, In My Tree, or Garden would fit perfectly. I also expect one or two deep cuts, what about Faithfull or Insignificance ?
It’s time to get on board, see you in Germany.

19/06/2022, It’s been so long, never dreamed you’d return

Pearl Jam Pinkpop 2022

The long awaited first show of the European show finally happened, and it was damned good. I don’t intend here to give a detailed review of the show, but rather provide short insights.

The band was in a very good mood. I was pleasantly surprised by the interactions between the band members and the smiles all over their faces. I was concerned that they might feel pressured to perform these dates without really wanting to do it. Everyone was super tight and focused. The MVP of the night was Mike for sure. It’s been 4 years since my last show, so maybe I am overreacting, but he was all over the place, killing all the solos from Even Flow to Alive.
I have to admit two things.

First, Josh really brings something. Before the show, I thought he was just a disposable hired gun, but he is more than that and I would even like the band to use him more.

Second, having seen the full band, I realized why it was not that easy to play a show without some of the members. When they canceled the US dates, I kind of thought: why don’t they play an acoustic set, why don’t they play without bass, etc. But honestly it would not have been a PJ show.

The crowd was mostly composed of casual fans. Even in the first rows, I was surrounded by people essentially familiar with Ten, Vs., and the Pink Floyd and Rolling Stones covers. No one around me seemed to know Throw Your Hatred Down or Quick Escape.

I am sure that most PJ die hard fans will disregard the setlist, but seeing things from the crowd, I think that it was a smart move to play songs that could please such a diverse crowd. The vibe was excellent and I’m sure it would have not been the case had they started with 4 new songs.
Turning to the setlist, Even Flow as the opener was surprising, but worked pretty well to pump up the crowd. The one/two punch with Why Go, a throwback to 1992, was super effective.

Low Light never disappoints, especially in outdoor shows. I expect this one to make an appearance in several shows.

Elderly Woman was quite touching. I felt the lyrics differently this time, as COVID prevented the band and the fans from being together for two years.
Dance of the Clairvoyants was a song I was really looking for and I was not disappointed. It was love at first sight when I first heard the song and I hope they will write such challenging songs for the next record.
Superblood Wolfmoon was an appropriate song considering that the moon was reddish. The crowd was super into the clapping part and the destructured solo is so good.
Eddie kind of fucked up Wishlist, some might say as always. He forgot the lyrics and struggled to find rhymes in the improv section. Interestingly, the song ended with two bars of Waiting on a Friend.

As Crowded House played in the afternoon, I kind of expected Eddie to make an appearance. Instead, Eddie praised Neil Finn and explained that they would play a song written with the other Neil. I did not expect Throw Your Hatred Down and was caught by surprise. It’s my favorite Mirrorball song but I realized that Stone was actually the one who played the solo. Listening back to it, it is obvious.

Corduroy after a deep cut was another smart move to bring the crowd back in a frenzy mood. The extended bridge was the 2018 one with the ohhs and the yeahs. Not my cup of tea, but the crowd enjoyed the participation.

Eddie then spoke about the old days with Mudhoney before launching into Lukin. I appreciated the fact that it was not super fast, still not the right pace but better than the 2018 live renditions.

We then turned to Mars with Quick Escape. Eddie was kinda struggling with the chorus but the other members of the band killed it, special mention for Mike and Jeff during the solo section.

Eddie then brought back his ukulele. He explained that one of his good friends that owned a music shop in Amsterdam passed away last year and that he would have been surprised to see such a tiny instrument on stage. Sleeping By Myself was then played. I am not a fan but it was a nice rendition.

Given to Fly was the following song, classic but effective.

Daughter with the Another Brick in the Wall tag was for sure one of the highlights for the casual crowd. It was obviously the same for Jeremy.
I speak about casual fans but I’m similar. I love these two songs since their respective releases and I will never consider them disposable.

Eddie then started a solo intro based on Don’t Dream It’s Over, by Crowded House, before starting Better Man. Better Man is not in my top 50 PJ songs, but I enjoyed the crowd response to it.

Eddie then reminisced about the 1992 Pinkpop show and invited the cameraman on stage. The speech was really similar to the one he did in 2018.

An incredible version of Porch, without the slow intro. The band nailed the bridge section for sure.

After a short break, the band was back with two covers. Considering the fact that the festival is called Pinkpop and that one of the symbols is a Pink Floyd, I should have seen this one coming. I was fortunate to see the song in 2018 but was thankful for being able to see it again. It was for sure a crowd favorite, as everyone was singing their lungs out…and well Mike, as always, nailed it.
Eddie then explained that the band was rehearsing in the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam when the Rolling Stones show in the nearby Arena had to be postponed due to COVID. They then played Street Fighting Man from the Stones. As I’m not familiar with the song and never cared for the band, I was not fully into it, but the crowd did, good for them, first time played since 1994.

And then Alive, a moment of communion. I had to say that Alive as the closer works really well, it kind of elevates it for me. The greatness of the song is not hammered by a disposable and too long Rockin’ in the Free World, for instance.

Eddie also threw a couple of tambourines during the song but definitely kept his distance from the crowd. He explained before in the show that they have to comply with a bubble and that their partners and children are not with them. You could definitely tell that he would have liked to engage more with the crowd, maybe later in the tour if things go well.

The band then left the stage after a 2h show that, in my opinion, perfectly suited the context, the first date of a tour that starts with a festival.

Top 3 moments:
Even Flow
Throw Your Hatred Down
Alive

18/06/2022, Landgraaf, I took a drive today…

Pearl Jam 06/18/2022 Pinkpop
Landgraaf is a short drive, 2 hours and 45 minutes.

France, then Luxembourg, then Belgium, then Germany, then the Netherlands. You are for sure in the cradle of the European Union.

Even if I’m crossing the border everyday to go to work, I have always felt lucky to be able to drive in and out of countries without starting in Frankfurt in the initial 2020 tour schedule.

Pinkpop is one of these classic festivals that happen all around Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany in summer: Rock am ring, Werchter, Pukkelpop, Grasspop, etc. It has always been a bit different from the other ones, as the line-up is usually quite eclectic and as it is less genre focused than Rock am Ring is, for instance.

After a pleasant drive with no one on the highway and no traffic jams, finding the parking lot was the only tricky thing. Once there, I got on the bus right away and arrived on time for Crowded House, which was my objective.
Having already bee n there in 2018, I knew the site and headed right away to one of the front sections. I got the side rail that separates the two front sections in front of the center stage. These sections are closed for entry during the show and you don’t have to exit after shows. Not everyone is there for Pearl Jam, and I know I will be able to progressively be closer to the stage between shows. In addition, it is easy to get water from the security if needed, perfect spot then…and way easier than I expected. Everything was tougher in 2018, but I will keep that story for an upcoming LO4L episode of Pinkpop 2018 in 2028!

After a pleasant set from Crowded House, I’m already somewhere around the 8th row, but with a great view, as I have the side rail. I’m also already in the shade, which is a relief considering that it is the hottest day so far, 35C/95F. Who ever said climate change was not a thing? Sorry politics again.
Pearl Jam will take the stage in 4 hours, so I will relax a little bit and enjoy the other bands, particularly the Deftones, who I have seen many times but not since 2017.

The two biggest stages are face to face, you can then easily enjoy whoever plays in the second stage when you are in front of the first stage, quite convenient.
Maybe I shall speak a little bit of Pearl Jam. I will start with merch. I try to avoid merch as much as I can for several reasons. First, I am a completist and if I start to buy a poster, I will want to buy all of them. Luckily the poster for my first PJ show (Amsterdam 2 2012) was awful and I have never started.
Second, I know I will put money and time in something that will sleep in a drawer and that I will never sell, even if the value has increased.

Third, posters aside, the quality of shirts, hats, etc. is quite disappointing. No chance that a PJ shirt would last as long as my OG LO4L shirts that are still pristine after 3 years and knowing that I wear them twice a week (to the disappointment of my wife).

I will then stick with pins and maybe buy my first poster this year, the Pinkpop one is quite great.

Turning to setlist predictions, I would not be surprised by a 25-set song with lots of Ten and Gigaton songs in order to accomodate the crowd.

A new song that we will probably hear: Dance of the Clairvoyants
An old song that we will get for sure: Porch
A staple that would be great to hear: Rearviewmirror
A curveball that will most likely not be played: Insignificance
A white whale song that will not be played: Education

See you after the show!
Aurélien

15/06/2022, Preamble: three days, and maybe longer…

My tickets for the 2020 European tour were bought in November 2019; I was supposed to attend 8 shows. Having attended 1 show in 2012, 5 shows in 2014, and 7 shows in 2018, it seemed like the natural progression.  These Summer 2020 dates were soon supplemented by 5 spring dates in California, and while everyone seemed to be disappointed by the lottery results, I got everything I requested, which seemed crazy. 2020 started great and the planets were aligned.

But of course, everything stopped on March 9th, 2020 when the band decided to postpone the tour. To be exact, everything stopped, or I would say really started, on March 16th, 2020 when the French president declared a strict confinement. It was just the beginning: confinement, homeworking, homeschooling, social distancing, face masking, PCR testing, vaccines, etc.
Looking back, I would have never imagined going through all of this. It was for sure not easy and exhausting. Even if I was not a front line worker, working 50h/60h a week with my wife giving school remotely to her students and 3 kids at home was no joke. Sleeping 5 hours per day was the ‘new normal’.

Coming back to Pearl jam, the tour was rescheduled once and then twice. The California plan was scrapped and more European shows were added in my schedule as new dates better fitted my agenda. The idea was to accumulate tickets and to decide in April 2022 which were the ones I could attend…but obviously it was too hard to choose, and I decided to try to attend as many shows as I could.

Today is June 15th, the tour starts in 3 days and I have tickets for most of the dates of the European tour. I am spoiled for sure. Living in the northeast of France is definitely a good spot. Dates in the Netherlands, Switzerland, western Germany, and France are only a 3h/4h drive and the Luxembourg airport, which is close to my office, has connections with most of Europe’s capitals.

I should be excited but I’m not.

I’m not, because lots of factors could prevent me from attending these dates.
First, even though I received three doses of the vaccine, lots of my colleagues have been testing positive recently. The probability of my wife, my kids, or myself getting positive in the coming days is far from zero.

Second, the situation in European airports is really not good at the moment. With massive lay-offs during the past two years, there is a lack of workers in the biggest airports and flights are cancelled everyday.

Third, my expectations were way too high in 2018 for the European tour, which led to on and off disappointment throughout the tour. I still see myself in Amsterdam, not understanding why the band did not play a 3h show with 35 songs and 10 deep cuts. Keeping in mind that shows should be sustainable for the band, I have really grown in this aspect, not expecting anything in particular except the band to have fun and keep on touring.

My plan for this tour is to appreciate every show and every song as if it was the last one. I have already prepared myself for disappointments, unexpected events, and last minute cancellations. My only anxiety for now is how I will manage to write short pieces for this blog.

See you on the 18th,
Aurélien

Aurélien Moureaux

Horizon Leg Patron

Living in France, the first song I heard of theirs was Jeremy. I enjoyed them in the 90's but went for some time without listening to them at all. Ever since my first show in Amsterdam of 2012, I haven't looked back and make it a point to travel Europe every time they come here. I can't wait to see them someday in the United States!

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