Aurelien’s European Excursion: Recaps of Pearl Jam’s Euro Tour
01/08/2022, Somewhere in south west of France, Come then goes
The tour ended a week ago and it already feels like ages. I had to go back to work the day after the last show and then it was the beginning of family vacation. I have found no time to feel tour deprivation, but I know it will come after the end of the US tour.
These past 30 months have been challenging on all levels for me and Pearl Jam was my anchor when I was down. Looking forward to these shows helped me numerous times when I was struggling with external or inner pressures. The tour is over and I guess I now need to think about how I can do things in a more sustainable way without having Pearl Jam shows ahead.
There have been lots of ups and downs in this tour. I was supposed to attend 15 shows but finally attended 9. 3 were canceled (Vienna, Prague and Amsterdam 1), and I had to miss 2 due to COVID (Werchter and Copenhagen) and one due to flight cancellations (Budapest). I am not disappointed at all because I knew before the tour started that such things would happen. But to be honest, I would not have expected the band to cancel 3 shows in a row. I’m sure these shows would have been great but on the other hand, I was fortunate to attend the last date, not everyone did. Witnessing a tremendous show for my last date really ended the tour in a perfect way for me and if I never see the band again, I will be able to say that I have been fortunate to see them many times and that the first and the last one were special for sure…which were exactly my feelings after London 2 in 2018. With 22 shows under my belt, I am far away from the fans who have seen them 100+ times but I know I am still a lucky man.
As this is the end of this blog, I would like to thank Randy for encouraging me to write these pieces. I was not able to deliver all of them on time, sorry for that, but I will for sure go back to them when my memory will start to fade on what exactly happened. Thank you also to John for the reviews of my posts. As a non-native English speaker, having you as a safety net was a relief because I did not want my blog to lower the tremendous quality of the Live On 4 Legs website. Thanks also to Dave from LiveFootsteps.org for all the stats that I have been able to consult and consume during these past months. On tour or off tour, and to quote someone I heard say in Vienna, LiveFootsteps is my go-to.
Thanks to all of you for the tremendous work and last but not least, thanks to everyone that took the time to read my posts.
26/07/2022, Amsterdam, For he still smiles and he’s still strong
What can I say about the show that happened yesterday? I am lacking in superlatives. Entering quite late in the Ziggo Dome at 18:30, I was almost sure I would end up with a bad spot as was the case for Amsterdam 1 in 2018. I was far back in the GA section and could hardly see the stage, Dutch are tall! It turned out I was once again lucky as I was able to secure a spot at the back of the first GA section. Perfect view, awesome sound, and no pushing from behind.
I had to admit that the relief only came when the band appeared on stage. I had convinced myself so much that the show would not happen that I needed to see them onstage to believe that it would actually happen. The first notes of Nothing as it Seems resonated and everybody in the room was anxiously waiting for Eddie to sing…cheers filled the room when the first lyrics came out. He sounded great. I had not seen this song since London 2 2018, when it was played in the second spot for the make-up show. The song is connected to special shows for sure.
Eddie then addressed the crowd, explaining that every show was different but that this would be special. He further communicated his relief to be able to end the tour with a show as the band did not want to leave Europe before playing a last show. Listening to him speaking, you could tell that this voice had not fully recovered.
It was then the time for the first request of the night with Off He Goes, a song that has been played less than what I have imagined. Eddie then thanked the doctor who helped him to recover his voice, and explained that they would have probably been able to play more shows had he been treated by him before. Pictures of the doctor were displayed on the screen. The only Gigaton song of the night followed with Alright, and I was glad they finally decided to play it. I had heard the intro part during the Berlin soundcheck and was eagerly waiting for it. The backing vocals from Jeff were more prominent than usual and I actually believe that they should turn his mic up for good.
Eddie then explained that they would play a song that was requested in 2018 and that had apparently not been played in Europe. Matt started a drumming pattern that I did not recognize at first, not because he did not play it properly, but because my mind was not prepared to hear the next song. It was W.M.A.! Before the tour started, I checked the song that I had not seen so far and thought that seeing W.M.A. once in my life would never happen. The song has only been played once in Europe, in 1993. It was played this year in Oakland, but with Richard Stuverud on drums. Before that, it had only been played twice in 2016, once in 2012, and 6 times in 2008 in a rearranged acoustic fashion. You add a couple of performances in the mid ‘90s and it’s all that you got. Hard to Imagine was a holy shit moment for me in Krakow, but W.M.A. in Amsterdam was another one. The hypnotic and driving bass lines were completed by dual guitars but also by dual drumming by Matt and Josh. You add Josh’s backing vocals on top of an awesome vocal performance by Eddie and you have the recipe for an instant classic moment.
The band then turned to live staples with Why Go and Even Flow. Eddie left some parts to sing for the crowd, and the call and response was highly enjoyable for the crowd as you really felt like a part of the show. Another song written by Jeff followed, Pilate. I had not seen it since Milan 2014 and did not expect to see it another time. During the first chorus, Jeff took the lead and Eddie the backups, and they switched for the next chorus. Really good version. They then came back into more familiar territory with Corduroy. At this point, I was noticing that alternating deep cuts with staples enabled the band to keep the attention of the casual fans. Even in Amsterdam, quite close to the stage, not everything was familiar with all the catalog.
Ed then introduced Stone, telling the crowd that it was his turn to sing, and Stone gave us a very well rendered version of Mankind. Wishlist followed before Eddie mentioned that they would play the most requested song. And here we go for another magic version of Hard to Imagine. The ending part, played with 4 guitars, impressed me. The surprise factor was not as high as in Krakow but I knew I was lucky to get this song another time. Back again to the most played songs with Better Man.
Eddie then explained that he could not speak the day before and thanked the travelers. He then introduced Matt Cameron for the next song, but explaining that Mike would sing the first verse. Of course, Black Diamond was played next. I am not a Kiss fan but love this cover. Given to Fly and Porch followed to end the set.
The band went back on stage only after a couple of minutes with Eddie wearing a glittering jacket. He then asked all their touring crew to get on stage and thanked them for having to do their job while staying in the bubble. Surprisingly, they played Do the Evolution. I would not have expected it so late in the set. Eddie introduced Boom and then Josh, who was asked to come and sing. Eddie took the verse before leaving Josh shining on a cover of Purple Rain. I am not a Prince fan, but I really enjoyed how the song pleased the room as everyone seemed to sing the chorus. The song also gave Mike a spot to shine. That show was not heavy on crazy solos.
The set ended with a nice combination of Alive, Indifference, and Rockin’ in the Free World. Mike smashed his guitar as a way to either celebrate the end of the leg or to release the tension and frustration of the past week. The band thanked the crowd and that was it the tour was over for us in Europe. I then took the time to say goodbye to my touring friends before we parted ways. We hope to be able to gather once again for another Pearl Jam or Eddie Vedder tour, but you never know.
25/07/2022, Amsterdam, Let’s just breathe
At home, checking the band and the promoter’s websites until 14:30, my hopes for the show to happen were thin, but I decided to give it a shot and drive back to Amsterdam. I was relieved halfway when I got a call from a friend telling me that the show was confirmed. I had to say that the negativity of the forum and of the Facebook pages really infused my mind in a bad way last night. I’m glad I’m mostly off these things when the band does not tour.
Anyway, here I am for the final show of the tour, in the venue where I experienced my first Pearl Jam show 10 years ago. Let’s forget everything else and enjoy it, the tour is almost over.
24/07/2022, Amsterdam, I wish I was a messenger and all the news was good
The show is canceled again, not a lot to say except that I don’t understand the timing and the poor communication. Why wait 2 hours before the doors open while some band members are wandering in the city? I cannot imagine that everything was okay until the announcement… but I will never know.
I will drive back home, go to work tomorrow morning and really hope they will communicate beforehand. I will drive back tomorrow afternoon for sure if the show happens, but please don’t make me drive another 8 hours for nothing.
23/07/2022, Avril, If I keep holding out, will the light shine through?
Today we will most likely know if Amsterdam happens. I am almost sure it will not. Maybe if there was only one date they could have made it, but with consecutive back-to-back dates Eddie would have to be completely cleared. We will see later, but who would have imagined that Paris could have been the last date of the tour and that this leg could end like the previous one…
22/07/2022, Avril, Some fucking freak who claims I fathered, by rape, her own son
As expected, the news came out the day before the show, Prague was also canceled. Based on the band’s communication for Vienna, I was not surprised, and coming back home was the best option because it was easier to be there than in Prague.
I have to admit that I was annoyed by the band’s statement. The set-up was not ideal in Paris, but it was not as hot as at Pinkpop and there was no wildfire near the festival premises. It was dry and dusty for sure, but it could not be the only factor involved.
I am usually not big on my country, but the French bashing is annoying, because according to many fans that were not there, they should not have played in Paris in the first place…
20/07/2022, Vienna, I got shit
I have started my drive to Vienna directly after work. The 10 hour drive was no joke. With a couple of hours of sleep, I arrived in Vienna around 11. I then met almost everyone I encountered on this tour. Spending some time with my friend Pawel is always a treat, and I took the opportunity of this show to meet Chris from the Pumping Ventricles podcast once again, as his trip in Europe comes to an end after Prague.
I took a couple of hours of sleep in the afternoon and started to queue. I put on my Front of Stage wristband, the security is here giving instructions, the merch is set up in the venue, and the mood is great. The issue was that 30 minutes later we were still waiting. At that point White Reaper was supposed to play in 30 minutes. I did not make the connection with what happened in London but I should have. Rumors started to mention a show cancellation and 2 minutes later, it was confirmed, the show was canceled due to Eddie’s voice issues.
Strangely, I was not devastated because for unexplained reasons I kind of saw it coming. Before the tour I was almost sure that: I would miss shows due to COVID (Werchter and Copenhagen), that I would miss shows due to flight cancellations (Budapest), and that I would miss shows due to sickness in the band (Vienna). I did not need everything to align with my predictions but I knew it would happen. I was actually more devastated for the teenager in front of me that came with her mother and would not see the band…or for fans from Croatia that had to spend long hours on a cheap bus to get there…or for my queuing buddy that traveled from Spain for this unique chance and spent all his money on the trip and on today’s merch.
I had two options at that point: first, stay in Vienna, enjoy the city and then drive to Prague. Second, come back home and go to work the day after…which would mean driving another 10 hours during the whole night. It might sound crazy, but I opted for the second option. Should Prague be canceled, I would have used 3 days off for nothing. Of course, I could have visited great cities and hung out with Pearl Jam fans, but I was not in the mood.
On the road again then.
18/07/2022, Paris, It’s not all been said, been said and done
Paris was the show I had the least expectations for. First, the fan base in France is small, and overall, French crowds are not great. Second, festivals in France are usually not well organized. Third, the line-up of the festival was rather strange. I then drove for 2 hours and 30 minutes before taking the underground and then a bus.
First surprise, the organization was actually pretty good. Second surprise, or maybe not a surprise, I did not encounter someone with a Pearl Jam shirt until I was in the venue. The lack of Pearl Jam fans was confirmed when I headed to the stage, as it was very sparsely crowded. The good thing is that I was able to secure a great spot.
I usually enjoy festivals because it’s the opportunity to hear music I am not familiar with. Before Pearl Jam I saw: Phoebe Rodgers (acoustic pop/music, quite good), Megan Thee Stallion (twerky hip-hop, no comment), Maneskin (glam, very good live band), and ASAP Rocky (hip-hop, no comment again). There were actually two stages (east and west), and the acts alternated from one to another without delays. I had a tremendous spot on the west stage but the view on the east stage was actually quite good. At first I was puzzled by the line-up, but having thought about it after the show, I think that it is actually what makes Lollapalooza different from the other festivals, and it was already the case in the ‘90s.
The band started with Why Go followed by Mind Your Manners, Interstellar Overdrive, and Corduroy. No surprise here but I can see something rather unusual, Stone seemed to enjoy the show a lot, which was not so much the case in previous shows. The band then went into Daughter with a version that did not include a tag. I like to see it this way from time to time even if I am always looking for W.M.A.
According to Eddie, it was hot as hell, meaning that playing Satan’s Bed was appropriate. At this point of the show I can notice that most of the crowd did not know the song, even in the first rows. Thankfully, a bunch of Belgians and South Americans were here to sing loud with me on this one. The version of the song sounded really good with an extended jam at the end.
It was time for Even Flow to be played, and Mike amazed the crowd by playing the solo with the pick in his teeth. Gigaton made its appearance with Dance of the Clairvoyants and Who Ever Said. This last song was played very well, way better than in Krakow, and I was glad to be able to fully enjoy it. Wishlist was played to slow down the pace of the show. The Waiting On A Friend outro really brings something, especially like here when a couple of lyrics are sung on top of the chords. The band went directly into an incredible version of Not For You. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, Not For You was one of my least favorite Pearl Jam songs, but the live renditions on this tour were so great that I am now looking for it.
The band had to stop the next song, Given To Fly, near the end of it due to a crowd issue. Crowd issues had been unfortunately common in this tour due to the heat. Ed then spoke about climate change before going into Untitled and a very effective MFC. Ed spoke again to explain that their families were not with them due to COVID protocol, and that Matt’s daughter turned 20 that day. They dedicated Amongst the Waves to her. I got the song in Berlin for the first time, but Eddie was clearly struggling. The Paris version was very good and it sounded like a real live debut for me.
The band went back to more well known songs as Jeremy, Evolution, and Black. These three songs enabled the casual fans to enjoy the show more, and Stone was on fire during Do the Evolution, MVP of the night for sure.
Similarly to Krakow, we got the debut of a song that had been left off the European setlists so far with Go. The song was definitely played in a lower key, but I enjoyed it a ton as it is up there in my favorite songs. Porch ended a very long set that exceeded one hour and a half. No surprise on this one but I am always there for the bridge/jam section in the middle.
The band came back on stage a couple of minutes later as there was only 15 minutes left. Ed thanked the crowd for the good energy and we got Alive followed by Baba. These two songs woke up the crowd for sure. The show then ended with Eddie saying ‘see you next year’.
As I said at the beginning, I had zero expectations for this show but I was very positively surprised. The set was solid, the band was in very good shape and tight. The crowd was shy but it did not affect my experience. The crowd was actually very respectful and people who did not know the songs were watching the show with a positive attitude and behavior. Getting out of the show was also quite easy and the overall experience was great. Hyde Park is still miles ahead, but I have enjoyed this show way more than Berlin, for instance.
15/07/2022, Kraków, It’s hard to imagine
Some shows are memorable due to the setlist, and some are memorable due to the experience. I put the show in Kraków in this last category. Having grabbed a shirt, I met my friend Pawel who then guided me to his private VIP lodge. He introduced me to his friends and we started talking about so many things that I definitely did not miss seeing the show from the back of the stage. I might never have the possibility to see another show in such a way, so let’s go for it.
The lights went off and the first notes of Sometimes resonated. Unexpectedly, the band went into Porch. The song that would close the main set then had to change and I was already guessing what it would be. The band then went into Do the Evolution followed by Quick Escape, songs that are usually played later in the set. Quick Escape dual solos still continue to impress me, I can see this song being played in future tour cycles.
I was then pleased to hear Dissident, and only realized during the last chorus that the lyrics of the last two songs deal with escape. Buckle up made a second appearance in Europe and was very effective. The electric version sounded good for sure. Eddie asked the crowd to take a few steps back, and an epic Even Flow was then played at the usual 7th spot and Mike showed his abilities.
While the setlist might look strange on paper, it worked pretty well in practice and looking from the lodge, I could definitely see that the crowd fully embraced the show. We then had an amazing mix of songs from different eras with Seven O’Clock, Immortality, Corduroy, Jeremy, Unthought Known, Once and Who Ever Said. While songs from different areas have their own sound and flavor on the album, they blended very nicely in a live concert. Immortality was a bit above the other songs of the mix and Who Ever Said was a bit behind because the band was sloppy on that one, additional practice please!
And then the highlight of the show for me, when Eddie explained that they would play a request, I knew that something rare was coming but I could not have imagined that they would play Hard to Imagine. I saw them play it once in 2014, but the sound was not great and I had a bad seat. With perfect sound and a nice view, I could fully experience the song and I had not such an overwhelming feeling since my first PJ show. It was just incredible.
Another crazy moment followed, and who would have imagined a few years back that it would have been a crazy moment at some point, the band decided to dust off Rearviewmirror to end the main set. Eddie clearly struggled with it vocally and I highly doubt it will come back any time soon unless they practice it more. In addition they played it most likely in D and it changed the mood of the song, there was less urgency.
The encore began with Better Man followed by Small Town, played for the back. It was almost 23:00 and I thought there was only time for one song, but it seemed that the curfew was actually 23:15 as we got extra songs with Smile, River Cross, Alive, and Rockin’ in the Free World. These last three were definitely dedicated to the situation in Ukraine. Throughout the show, Eddie thanked countless people and associations that helped Ukrainian refugees. The band then thanked the crowd and it was the end of the show.
I will for sure get back to this show in the future. While the setlist was not as great as Frankfurt, and while there were less surprises than in Hyde Park, the room was perfect, the crowd was the best I have encountered in the tour, and the VIP experience added an extra point.
Considering how great the city is, I will be back in Krakow for sure.
14/07/2022, Kraków – I’m open
As expected, Budapest went great but I was not there. On top of missing Pearl Jam, I have missed my friend Canan who flew from Turkey and was only able to attend this show. Both listeners of the SPT podcast, we met in Düsseldorf at an Eddie Vedder show in 2019. She seems to always pick the go-to shows, as Düsseldorf was very special. Eddie’s rendition of Seasons was an unforgettable moment. Anyway, I am very happy that she got such a great show.
But let’s speak a bit about Kraków. I bonded during the 2018 tour with a Kraków resident named Pawel. We became ‘queuing buddies’ and he praised his city so much that I promised to visit it next time the band would play there. We kept in contact frequently and I was able to secure 10C tickets for Kraków in 2020. Tour was rescheduled, working and family commitments changed, and I had to turn back my 10C tickets at the end of the refund window. A couple of weeks later, things changed, I could go to Kraków but I had no ticket nor flight.
The show was sold out, but I was able to buy a behind the stage ticket, as some were later released. I never had the opportunity to see a show from behind. No venue in France offers this set-up, but the fans seemed to have a great time in such spots in the 2018 O2 shows. On the other hand, my friend Pawel has a private VIP space at the venue and he offered me to join him there…I’m then conflicted about what to do…first world problem for sure!
Kraków is a bit different for me, as this is the first show for which I had some time to visit the city and enjoy what it has to offer without the pressure of being early at the venue…and it changes everything, I am way more relaxed even if I have slept only 4 hours.
There is a lot to see in Kraków with magnificent churches, castles and synagogues. There are also PJ shirts everywhere, which is rather cool to see. Having no flights issue was also a relief as I was worrying the day before about cancellation or missing my connecting flight in Frankfurt.
The second relief came with the confirmation that the show was happening. I was worried for Mike as he played with a mask in Budapest.
Taurón arena, here I come.
10/07/2022, London (again) – They don’t compare…
I went early today and secured a nice spot. I enjoyed the varied opening acts a ton, and especially the Stereophonics, who happened to be big Pearl Jam fans. The singer reminisced his first time seeing the band opening for Neil Young in Finsbury Park 93 and buying Vs. on the release day. Like yesterday, the crowd was great, the staff very caring, the sound perfect, and the stage was beautiful. Forgotten are Pinkpop, Rock am Ring, and Werchter, Hyde Park is the place to be for a festival.
Similarly to the previous night, the band walked on stage accompanied by All You Need Is Love. Corduroy was the first song played, followed by Small Town, Why Go and Deep. Contrary to the previous night, the tone was set to the ‘90s, Eddie explained at one point that they would play what did not get played the previous night. These four songs went pretty smoothly and I will never get tired of them.
The band then had to wait to start the next song because someone passed out due to heat. I can’t imagine how deceptive it must be to wait all day and to lose your consciousness so early in a show. Wishlist was played next, with the usual improv in the lyrics, and the almost usual Waiting on a Friend tag at the end…but with lyrics this time.
To my pleasure, I then got to hear Garden for the second time. Stellar performance from the band, I particularly enjoyed the fact that it was played at a rather slow pace. Ed then mentioned how the song was written about a cemetery, and how cemeteries are filled with people dying from shooting. He then explained how his wife and one of his girls were involved in an active shooting that finally happened to be fireworks, and how guns are sadly part of your everyday life in the US, while it is not the case in the UK (for the record, most policemen in the UK do not have guns). Johnny Marr then joined the band to play a more than epic version of Throw Your Hatred Down with the Mancunian taking the solo duties, a highlight for sure.
It was time to please the crowd with energetic songs and we got Do the Evolution and Animal. Eddie then proposed to choose between Whipping and Not For You. Not For You was picked by the crowd and I was quite happy with it. Not For You was one of the songs that I never cared for in the past, but the 2022 renditions have been heavy and slowed down, much to my pleasure. The band then brought live debuts (for me) with Rats and Faithfull. While I was expecting to finally catch Faithfull during the tour, Rats was a complete surprise. As a massive Vs. fan, it was a treat to see it played, very funky.
The ‘90s oriented set continued with State of Love and Trust, Eruption, Black and Porch. The end of Black was so extended that I almost thought we would not get a tag, but We Belong Together resonated as a throwback for me to the Unplugged version that I watched for the first time almost 30 years ago (I’m getting very old).
The band went offstage but came back quite quickly. Eddie sat at the pump organ and played River Cross. I felt fortunate to see it played a second time, and was overwhelmed by the power of the last part. Another live debut followed for me with Leash. It got crossed off from the setlist in Berlin 2014 and I was secretly expecting it at these London shows. It was 1993 again for me and we got the ‘fucking face’ version that seems more legit that the ‘lucky face’ variant.
The first chords of Alive resonated, a reminder that the show was close to the end. I will go straight to the point, hearing Alive sung by 60,000 fans was really impactful. Mike then started the first notes of Yellow Ledbetter. As no tambourines were thrown out for these two songs, I knew that something else would come and it was Baba O’Riley. Johnny Marr came back on stage and so did Andrew Watt. It was a frenzy of guitars and solos. The band and the guests were having fun and there were big smiles on everyone’s faces in the crowd.
Looking back at these back-to-back dates, I can only praise the band, the crowd, the organization, and the venue. Everything was fantastic, and my words do not give justice to the experience. Setlist wise, we got 42 different songs with only 2 repeats which was awesome. Tell me another band that can do that? To finish, the obvious question is night 1 or night 2? I can’t honestly decide, as these two sets have to be regarded together. Night 1 was probably a bit ahead in terms of songs, but Night 2 was a bit ahead in terms of energy and fun.
Let’s hope that we will have the same treatment in Amsterdam.
09/07/2022, London, No future for you
The first night of the British Summer Time in Hyde Park was a damn good show for lots of reasons. First, the event was very well organized. No queue to enter, no bottleneck at the end to exit and a very gentle staff. Second, the venue was great. The 10 Club section that was in front of the stage had lots of space. Fans could move, dance or stand still at their own convenience. There was a good camaraderie and I haven’t noticed a single issue even if people tend to drink a lot in England. They know how to act. There were lots of kids at the show, and when I mean kids, some were toddlers. Maybe the presence of kids brought a different flavor that encouraged everyone to take care and act with respect. The stage was beautiful, and a tree was part of it, a great oak. There were big screens on the sides but also behind the band. It was the first time that I have seen a ‘produced’ Pearl Jam show with lots of visual effects. It definitely brought an extra layer to the show. Finally, the sound was crystal clear and at the perfect level. Hard to do better.
The band started with Better Man, not my favorite song, but I like it as an opener. The crowd reaction was pretty good, and it was a smart move to open with something familiar. Low Light followed, not surprising as they play it a lot at outdoor shows. At this moment of the show I was thinking that we would get a ‘standard’ show, which would be understandable given the fact that it was almost a festival setting…but the band had already decided otherwise. They went into Breath which is always a treat. The bass sound was incredible, and it elevated the song for me. Mind Your Manners and Save You followed. Eddie explained after the song that he was not able to save the person for which the song had been written about, and that he thought a lot about it while playing the song.
It was the appropriate time to play a Gigaton song with Quick Escape. Interestingly, they ended it with a God Save the Queen tag from the Sex Pistols, singing the “no future” part. I was expecting Pink Floyd or The Who references for this show, but the band went more punk. Coincidentally, I was not able to sleep the night before this show and watched For All Mankind, with the Mars landing, followed by the new series about the Pistols. The band then played a request in the form of In Hiding. I was glad to have this song again as it should be on a heavier rotation in their sets. The final chorus was heavily sung by the crowd. Gigaton was back with Retrograde. Unpopular opinion, the song is good, well played, but the beginning is too long. The final section was excellent though.
It was then an emotional moment, as the band played Light Years for Donna, a fan who died at an early age and was not able to attend the show. It was also the debut of a Binaural song for this leg of the tour. Ten had not been covered yet, and it was the appropriate time for an epic Even Flow. As soon as the first notes were played, the crowd went crazy. The beginning of the set was awesome, but I realized that it might have been hard to follow for casual fans since Better Man. Mike shone on this song with an incredible behind the head solo. Ed took his guitar back to add Backspacer in the mix with Unthought Known, another one of these songs that could be played more.
The band went more conventional with Daughter. After a few lines of Good Woman, a long W.M.A. tag was brought to the table, which is always a pleasure for me. The extra drumming played by Josh was very effective and it made the song closer to the beats of the album version. Up-tempo songs followed with Superblood Wolfmoon and Given to Fly, enabling Mike to display his arsenal of guitar playing. Like the previous shows, he was at his best. Another cover was played and I did not identify it right away. It was Public Image but played way lower and thus way heavier.
Stone then played the opening riff of Once. This song is criminally under played nowadays and I was glad to see it another time. It has always been amongst my favorites off Ten. This version was the best I have ever seen, with lots of interactions with the crowd. The band continued with Porch. Do they play it too often? Maybe. Is it always effective? For sure!
It was now time for an encore break that only lasted a minute or two. Eddie came back on stage with Simon Townshend. Eddie explained how he had been inspired by Simon back in 1984, and how he was important to him. They then welcome the twin drummer and bassist of White Reaper. Ed explained that he knew them since they were small, as he is a friend of their dad who wrote a book about Pete Townshend. But he brought them on stage for a very particular reason as it was their birthday. The crowd sang them a well deserved happy birthday before Ed and Simon played I’m the Answer. I was not familiar with the song, and to be honest, with Simon, but I was stricken by the chemistry between these two. It could have been a random acoustic song cover but it was not, there were lots of emotions that transpired from Eddie.
The band came back on stage and while I was expecting Black, the opening notes of Jeremy resonated. I am repeating myself, but I am taking this song every night for sure. It was finally dark and it suited the song. The darkness also suited Indifference. I have to admit that I am a massive fan of the song. It was however the first time that I had the opportunity to see it played in the darkness and not with the lights on. The darkness, combined with subtle red/blue lights, enforced the lyrics for me and for the crowd.
We had little time to breathe as the band started another flawless rendition of Alive. No tambourines were thrown, meaning that another song would come, in the form of Rockin’ in the Free World. It was actually a live debut for me on this tour as I missed Werchter. A left-handed guitarist was brought on stage, he looked like John McEnroe and it happened to be McEnroe, crazy. Not seeing the cover every night made me enjoy it a ton.
It was then the end of an awesome show. Hyde Park was way better than what I could have imagined beforehand. Everything was perfect from start to finish, and in every aspect. I was glad and felt fortunate to be able to be there.
Having COVID behind me also liberated me as I could enjoy my first live show without thinking of what could happen next if I got the sickness. Missing Werchter and Copenhagen was really not a big deal if it had to happen this way to enable me to be at Hyde Park. Needless to say that I am impatient for night 2.
08/07/2022, London, Troubled souls unite! We got ourselves tonight…
Car, Bus, Tram, Plane, Train, Tube, and here I am at Hyde park. My last time in London was for a family vacation back in 2019. Wandering in Hyde Park with my wife and my oldest son, I would not have imagined seeing Pearl Jam there. It’s great to be back in London, I love the mix of constant activity and the laid back attitude of the city. Berlin is more efficient, Amsterdam is more relaxed, Brussels is more friendly, Rome is more beautiful, and Paris is more dangerous and filthy…have I already mentioned the fact that Paris is the most overrated city in the world? More on that later in the tour.
Anyway, it’s my first back-to-back dates since Amsterdam 2018 and looking back, my only previous back-to-back dates were also in Amsterdam, but in 2014. Given the fact that the London dates are held as part of the British Summer Time outdoor shows, I am really wondering how the band will approach the setlists. We will have most of Ten for sure, the usual staples (Daughter, Betterman, Given to Fly), probably a few covers by English bands (Pink Floyd or the Who) and the most played songs from Gigaton (DoTC, Quick Escape and SWBM).
For the rest of the set, I have no clue. I have been pretty bad at predictions but let’s give it another try. Regarding new songs, I can see the European debut of Alright and would be pleased with Who Ever Said. They played the recorded intro of Alright at the soundcheck in Berlin, this one should be played sometime in the tour. Regarding old songs, not seeing Go or Rearviewmirror back in the set would be a mystery. If they don’t play these songs here, they might be skipped for good in this leg of the tour…maybe Eddie is struggling with some vocals? Regarding curveballs, why not throw in a Leash, a Faithfull, or a Tremor Christ?
These shows will also give me the opportunity to see the Pixies and Stereophonics. I have never really paid attention to the Pixies, and only saw Frank Blank once, but it was way back in 1996 and I have zero memory…being almost crushed to death during a RHCP show the same day seemed to be more ingrained in my memory. I am more interested in Stereophonics. I had a short phase back in 1997 because my brother was constantly playing their first album, and I am looking forward to hearing a few songs from that album.
07/07/2022, Positive, Positive
I had not posted for a while, as the aftermath of my Frankfürt trip was not what I expected…strangely, it got exactly like what I had expected before the tour started. After only 2 hours of sleep, I got up and my wife told me that she was not okay the day before. As it is always the case at the end of the school year, I assumed that it was the same exhaustion that she usually faced at that time of the year. She then texted in the middle of the afternoon, saying that she had a positive COVID test. I went straight back home, only to find out that I was also positive. I had tested myself several times since the beginning of the tour, and kept my mask on all the time. I was then wondering to which extent it was due to me. PCR tests performed the day after confirmed our status, but the kids were negative.
Of course, Werchter would not happen for me. I sold my ticket at half price and was happy with transferring it to someone else. Werchter should have been the opportunity to meet An, a Belgian fan I met in Brussels at an Eddie Vedder show in 2019. She had never seen Pearl Jam before, but happened to be very close to Eddie backstage in Werchter 2018 as she volunteered for the festival. Hopefully, I should be able to meet her and her husband in Amsterdam later in the tour.
Based on the French rules, I was due to finish my quarantine on July 5th, which was exactly the date on which I was supposed to fly to Copenhagen. However, based on the rules in place in Luxembourg, my quarantine was supposed to end on July 7th…and I was supposed to fly from Luxembourg. As I’m working in Luxembourg, not complying with the rules could also generate issues that I did not want to face, but you know how it is when you have tickets and flights booked…I didn’t really have time to think about what to do as two of my kids tested positive on July 2nd, and as my wife had not fully recovered yet. Copenhagen was then also out of my plan.
As a former French president said, troubles fly in squadrons. On July 3rd, Lufthansa informed me that my flights to Budapest were canceled and they were not able to propose an alternative that suited the live show. A third show was then out of the plan.
As I was prepared for COVID and flight cancellations beforehand, I was not that discouraged. Having attended Zürich and Frankfurt, skipping Werchter and Copenhagen was not a big deal, we will see for Budapest.
Things got way better today. Maybe good things also fly in squadrons. First, my wife and my youngest kids are okay, and my third son is still negative, which enables them to go and see the Tour de France arrival today in a nearby city. Second, flights to London and Krakow are confirmed. There is still a small chance of cancellation, but I should be okay, meaning that it is now time to resume the tour. Looking back, getting COVID at this stage of the tour might be the most appropriate time.
See you hopefully in London tomorrow, I am eagerly waiting to see what the band will propose for back-to-back dates.
29/06/2022, Frankfürt, The answer is Fatal
Frankfürt was an easy show for me. After a 3 hour drive, I arrived in the city at 4 pm and found a free parking spot next to the venue. Having picked my tickets and found my ticket buddy, I greeted a couple of friends before joining the queue. The previous show in Imola was not the epic and mammoth show that the Italian fans predicted, and I was wondering what show Pearl Jam could propose in a city that they had not visited for 30 years. Would we have a throwback set with lots of songs from Ten, or a career spanning set? Or something similar to the first shows of the tour?
As soon as I entered the venue, I had the instant feeling that this old venue would inspire the band way more than a race track. The venue is an old arena that opened in 1909. It is very particular, as there is a massive central dome in the middle of it. It is for sure one of the most beautiful venues I have ever been to for a live show.
The GA section was divided into three sections, and I decided to watch this show at the back of the first one in order to have more space when the show would begin. I could have been in the fifth row but I was not feeling 100% okay…I did not find the time to properly eat, and it was very hot in the venue. Standing back seemed to be a cautious move.
White Reaper started their set with lots of technical issues. The voices and the guitars did not come out in the mix. The crowd was very cheerful with them though, and the sound was finally restored for the second song. I was initially not a big fan of their music but after three shows, I was starting to get used to their tunes and enjoyed them.
After a quick break, the lights went out. The band got early on stage, and Mike started to play the first chords of Inside Job. The other members of the band gradually joined him on stage for a tremendous rendition of the song. Starting with this soaring song was a smart move, and I only realized after the show that Inside Job was definitely not a common opener.
The band then went full steam with a punk mini-set composed of Animal, Last Exit, Why Go, and Mind Your Manners. What can I say? The first three songs of the mini-set are amongst my favorites and Mind Your Manners is more than welcome when not played every night. I was a bit disappointed when the audience ruined Animal in Zürich and was glad to hear it properly played. Hearing this song always brings me back to 1993 and to the iconic MTV VMA performance.
Ed greeted the audience, and mentioned that it was good to be back after so many years. He asked people to take care of each other and explained that it would be a good show. The energy was still high with Interstellar Overdrive into Corduroy. I usually prefer the instrumental bridge but the interaction with the crowd was pretty great, as it always is in Germany.
The band then played a slower song and while it was great, the name of the song escaped me for the first verse…which made me feel dumb while relaying the setlist to Live On 4 Legs and Livefootsteps… The answer is Fatal! It was a holy shit moment for lots of fans around me. I had been fortunate to see the song once, and never thought I would see it a second time. Elderly Woman followed with its ‘helloooo’ moment, that’s the kind of song that makes you feel part of a community. Speaking of communion, it was finally time for a Gigaton song to be played. Similarly to previous shows, Dance of the Clairvoyants had well-deserved success.
Ed then praised Matt Cameron before the drummer started a powerful rendition of In My Tree. I was expecting this one in Berlin, but they saved it for Frankfürt. Josh brought additional drumming to the table, and it sounded better than the previous versions I have been able to witness. The combo with Given to Fly was very effective, these two songs worked pretty well together.
I then got my holy shit moment with Garden. This song was the only one from Ten that I was missing, and I’ve always had an attachment to it. There are songs that can bring you back to a distant past and that is the case with Garden. I remember listening to it at a random friend’s house in early 1993. For an unexplained reason, I can clearly picture myself listening to the song with crystal clear details of my friend’s house. Needless to say, I was thrilled to hear this song, completely stricken by the dual guitar and the unconventional solo. Ed then showed a ‘Free Ukraine’ sign that received cheering from the crowd. Ukraine had not been mentioned a ton during the tour and it was good to have a thought on this issue.
Gigaton made its way back with Never Destination. I had to say that Ed was a bit sloppy on this one, which was musically speaking a downtime, but it was still a highlight in terms of energy. This one seemed tough to play and sing, and you should definitely enjoy this kind of song as there are very few chances that it will be played in future tours.
The next two songs were easier with Do the Evolution and Jeremy. I will not repeat myself with Jeremy, it’s love like the first day.
So far in the show, I was already feeling ecstatic. The flow of the setlist was great and a few gems were already thrown in. The band decided to continue with the surprises by playing Buckle Up. That song generated lots of controversy upon the release of Gigaton. Some praised the song, others ridiculed it. I was on the praising side. The mood of the song is really unusual for a Pearl Jam song and the lyrics are so interesting and subject to interpretation. The live rendition was more electric than the acoustic version of the album, and I think that it served the song well in a live setting. The reception in the room was mixed, but I did not care at all, enjoying the song as if it was played especially for me. While it might look strange on paper, the Buckle up/Better Man transition was flawless, so flawless that it made me appreciate Better Man way more than I usually do.
The first riff of Porch then resonated in the venue, and the solo gave Mike the opportunity to shine. I have not really covered the band members so far but I thought that they were really good. Berlin was kind of sloppy and I am glad that it was an isolated show.
The encore break was really short, as if the band wanted to play everything they had in mind. At that point I started to feel a bit feverish, and attributed it to the fact that there was apparently no air conditioning in the venue. I was able to completely obstruct my body state when I understood that River Cross would finally be played. The song had been crossed off too many times, meaning that you should not expect to see this one played very often. Similarly to Buckle Up, the more electric aspect of the song, especially in the last part, perfectly worked in a live environment. Ed explained beforehand that G7 representatives were gathered in the city and how everyone could be part of changes to be done.
The band then went back to old songs with State of Love and Trust into Alive. These two very energetic songs did not signal the end of the show, as we also got Indifference. This song has striking lyrics and for a special show we needed a special ending.
As soon as the show ended, I went outside to breathe fresh air. The night is beautiful and I have just witnessed one of the best Pearl Jam shows I have ever attended. My first Pearl Jam show was on June 27th, 2012, this Frankfürt show was then perfect for a 10th year anniversary. Similarly to 2012, the flow was really good, we got a couple of rarities mixed with staples, and the crowd was really friendly and participative.
The 3 hour drive back home went quickly and the exhaustion only popped up when I arrived at home at 3.30 am.
25/06/2022, 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).
24/06/2022, 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 the 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 top. We then got Even Flow and similarly to Pinkpop, I think that the song works way more in the first 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 year 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 will never have. 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 am then not 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
See you in Zurich for the next stop.
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
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:
Throw Your Hatred Down
18/06/2022, Landgraaf, I took a drive today…
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!
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,