Pearl Jam Fan Report From The Road: London 2022

By: Marty Higgins | August 15, 2022

Well, where do I start with this review? Actually, it started back in early 2020, when I decided we needed a bit of a get together prior to the 2020 Hyde Park shows, we got some locations sorted and started communicating to our group, Pearl Jam Scotland, getting people engaged and excited about our pre-party and then…the world stopped, our lives turned upside down, and all shows were postponed.

The next two years, as we all know, were pretty depressing as we waited patiently to exit the pandemic. We could do nothing but keep other company through facetime and messenger and then before we knew it we were in early 2022!

Over the pandemic we had grown our Facebook page to over 2000 Unicorns (our name for our members), so in early 2022 we started to plan again for London, selling tickets for raffles or maybe just a meet up before night 1.

We decided on a bar close to Hyde Park and sold tickets to the event, selling the 100 tickets quickly (which raised £1000 for Diabetes UK)

This would be the first time Pearl Jam Scotland would meet at a Pearl Jam show, and I think there was a real sense of anticipation and excitement for the pre-party and the show, and there were lots of Unicorns about to experience their first Pearl Jam show!

As the day approached and excitement built, I felt there was something missing, just that little unique experience for people to remember the day, then it hit me! We are Scottish, we are a proud nation who are always in the shadow of England. Not today though, not when there are 100+ Unicorns in London, LET’S HIRE A BAGPIPER TO MARCH US TO HYDE PARK!

So, on the search I went to find a piper who would like to lead us on our march. It was actually easier than I thought, I found a woman who was also a Pearl Jam fan! This was meant to happen.

So fast forward to that July weekend, I sat outside the bar with Stephen Duggan and I said to him, ‘shit mate, what if no one turns up?’ Shut up, he said, of course people will come. I wasn’t so sure, there was a heatwave in London, there were a ton of other things to do than stand in a bar for 3 hours. My anxiety was totally getting the better of me, if no one turned up this would be a shit start to the weekend.

My fears were short-lived, as I saw a steady stream of Unicorn t-shirts walk from all directions towards the bar at 11am. They came from Canada, America, England, Wales, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Scotland, and by 12pm we had over 100 Pearl Jam Scotland Unicorns in the bar. This was, for a lot of people including myself, the first time meeting people in real life! Big hugs, handshakes, some great chat, and a few beers.

At 1:45 our bagpiper arrived, and after a quick photo outside the bar, she led us on a march of the Unicorns down to Hyde Park. As we walked and she played, we soon became a tourist attraction! As we passed bars, people stood and applauded, people hung out of cars to get photos, and tourist buses stopped to allow their passengers to get a good photo. It was truly a special moment for all of us, and one I’ll remember for a long time.

So…to the shows:

Night 1:

Four years since my last show in Boston, a cancelled tour because of COVID, we all hit some lows during that time I’m sure, but just to hear the Beatles “All You Need Is Love” ring out across the park was the perfect start to a beautiful evening.

Then the first chords of Better Man rang out…YES, this is going to be a good night!

I mean, this is one of the greatest PJ live karaoke songs isn’t it, everyone sings. EVERYONE.
The whole place just erupted with a sense of overwhelming joy, I could feel it, it was very emotional and I know a few tears were shed.

The next few songs raced by, Low Light and Breath…BREATH! Mind Your Manners, then Save You, come on, Save You? What were they trying to do, explode us with joy?! Bloody great to hear such deep cuts early on in a show.

However the highlight for me and a number of friends was the song for Donna, who had passed away the previous year. She was known to many around me, it was a heartfelt tribute from Eddie, I could feel he meant it, which led into Light Years…we cried.

The rest of the show was stellar, they were on form and having a blast, really enjoyed the addition of Josh into the lineup, it adds a certain depth to the sound.

The evening ended with Rockin’, and our PJ Scotland flag made it onto the big screen! That was the start of a chain of events that led to night 2 being a night never to forget!

Night 2:

Let’s start by saying I was drunk, so my recollections of the setlist are hazy to say the least, but it was a truly epic, awesome, rocking, memorable show.

Even before the show started, I got a photo sent to me of Josh Klinghoffer holding up our PJ Scotland T shirt! Scott Baird had managed to get mistakenly ushered into the backstage VIP area, which he took full advantage of, talking to Josh and telling him about our group and our fundraising. He was so impressed he donated £40 and signed the flag!

Just before the band came on, a woman appeared from the side of the stage and noticed our flag, she came over and asked what it was about. I drunkenly told her about what we do, she then said cool, you guys want the setlist? Before the show, I ask? Yeah sure, she says, and walks off to get it.

A few minutes later she returned, and said she wasn’t allowed to give them out pre-show, but she allowed me to take a photo of it…at that point I knew how good a night it was going to be! She said she’d come out after the show and give me a setlist (which, true to her word, she did).

Moments later, Danny Clinch walked by, I managed to grab his attention and asked him to take a photo of us and the flag, which he did. He even sent it to me a few weeks later, top man.

Now as I said earlier, the beer was doing its job, I was loving life and everyone in cuddling distance around me knew it! I remember from the previous night that when they played Porch, Eddie came over to where we were standing tonight, so I had an idea!

One of our Unicorns, Taryn, had her kids with her. Ewan was the youngest, around nine years old. I said to Taryn that if she heard Porch start, he had to come to the rail asap. One of only two repeats over that weekend, when Porch started I turned to Taryn and said bring him over! He was reluctant, but his big sister put him on her shoulder and walked over. Sure enough Eddie came over in the Mike solo and looked over the barrier, I shouted “EDDIE! EDDIE!” He looked down at me, and I shook my arm (tambourine style) and pointed to Ewan, Eddie pointed to Ewan, only to run away…and return with a tambo for him. Wow, you could not get the smile off Ewan’s face or mine!

People say the setlist was one of the best of the tour, I honestly don’t remember all of it, what I do remember with clarity is the joy, the happiness, and the euphoria of all of us seeing the band we love in the UK again.

The only thing that could get the better of Hyde Park is if they decide to come north of the border and play my homeland of Scotland again. The last show there was in 2000, and 22 years is far too long without a show. We are the greatest fans in the world and our adventures in London only cemented this statement.

 

Marty Higgins

Been a PJ since 1992, waited 8 years to see them live, and then another 18 to see them a second time. Now I'm packing them in. Should be number 10 at MSG. I help run a fan page in Scotland. We have 3 things on our mission statement. 1. Keep grunge alive 2. Raise money to find a cure for Diabetes 3. Bring PJ back to Scotland.

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  1. The sos meet up in London before London night 1 was brilliant and the unicorn march with the bagpipes topped off a great pre show meet.
    Hyde park night 1 was amazing PJ where on it from the very first song.
    Never made night 2 but the whole London event was great.
    PJ Scotland do a lot of great work raising money and getting everyone involved and hopefully one day we’ll reached the main target of getting PJ to come back and play Scotland.

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