Forever Faithfull: Memories From The Road featuring Steve Bennett

By: Steve Bennett | March 19, 2023

Steve Bennett Retraces Pearl Jam Memories From The Road

Forever Faithfull is a series derived from daily Facebook posts on the Pearl Jam Podcast Community group. These tour stories were shared by Steve Bennett. His path has been traveled a whopping 86 times, and he’s experienced some of the most memorable moments and shows in the band’s long history.

10/1/1996 – Better Man – Buffalo, NY

I have been lucky enough to attend 86 Pearl Jam shows. My first show was in 1996 and my most recent was in Toronto last fall. It’s been a long walk down the long road and being on that road has always been a priority for me. In my college days, I spent almost every dollar I had on Pearl Jam tickets, lodging, gas, food and of course, merchandise. I always did whatever it took to be at as many shows as I could get to. I was lucky to be born In Buffalo, NY. I have been to so many shows within 3-6 hours of my front door. Toronto, Cleveland. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Albany, Kitchener, London (Ontario), Hamilton, New York City, Atlantic City, Grand Rapids, Columbus, Detroit, Ottawa, Montreal, Hartford and Toledo are just some of the cities that can be reached in roughly that amount of time in a car. I’ve only really travelled to a few cities outside of that radius for shows (Benaroya, Bridge School (99 and 01), Las Vegas (PJ10) and East Troy (PJ 20) are a few that come to mind). Those plane trips were special and I’ll talk about some of them later in the week.

For today, no long road is walked without your first step on that road. My first show was on October 1, 1996, a home show, in our brand new hockey arena (it had been open for maybe 20 days, the Sabres hadn’t even played there yet). My dad drove me the fifteen minutes it took to get downtown, dropped me off, and picked me up at the end of the night. I just turned 16 in September and was very luck to be there that night.

Pearl Jam was in Buffalo that night, for the first time ever, because our new building wasn’t a Ticketmaster venue. Tickets went on sale in the summer and could only be purchased on the phone. All of the phone lines from Buffalo crashed quickly and most of the tickets ended up getting purchased by people downstate. Face value was only $22.00 and I got nothing. I was crushed. Quickly, classified ads in the paper started to pup up claiming to have tickets for sale. I would call, they would ask for $150-250, and I would hang up. I was a busboy at the time and because of how much hockey I was playing I didn’t get to work much. The week before the game I put five bucks on a football parlay ticket a guy in the kitchen was selling. I picked six teams. They all won and I collected $90. It was my first Pearl Jam miracle.

I called up a ticket broker in the area and he sold me his last ticket for $150. Thanks to that $90 and the dollar bills I had in my top sock drawer, I had enough cash to go to his shady office in a shady part of town and make my biggest purchase since the 13’ color television I bought with my communion money. Funny side note, I made friends with the broker and did a ton of work for him in 2000 that helped subsidize my 12 shows that year. We will get to more of that later in the week.

The day of the show, I went to school. I went to hockey practice and then I went to Pearl Jam. I walked into the arena when it opened, had a piece of pizza and looked around. It was my first time in the place. I had a floor ticket but I wasn’t worried about getting a spot. I mingled the halls while people filed in, met with some buddies, ignored the opening act (it would become a Pearl Jam tradition) and then it was time. I pushed my way through the floor, found a good spot about six rows back and waited.

Finally, the lights went out, everyone went bat shit and the mighty Pearl Jam emerged before us. Pearl Jam was in my city, I was there, and it was awesome. 1,2,3,4 and Oceans was the first song I ever heard live. Once I heard the first word out of Ed’s mouth through the PA my destiny was set. State of Love and Trust was insane, and I almost didn’t survive the pit. Footsteps was breathtaking. The emotion and passion of the crowd participation during Jeremy was intense. The show was really great. The highlight? Well, after a blazing fast Lukin, Ed took a minute to collect himself. He took a few sips of wine, breathed in the atmosphere, and addressed the crowd, “We haven’t been touring as much as, you know, laundry got piled up, the weeds…I can’t remember, were in Ithaca tonight? Utica? Poughkeepsie? Ok, this is for you, Buffalo.” Ill be honest, I heard, “Ok this if for you, Steve.”

It felt like it was for me. It felt like a gift for discovering Pearl Jam on my own one night watching Headbanger’s Ball when I should have been sleeping. It felt like it was for me because Pearl Jam was my band not something passed down from my father or my uncle. In my mind, Ed was dedicating Better Man to me because I listed to the records every day, won my football bet, bought the ticket, and made it there that night. It felt like Ed was welcoming me to the long road. He had a song to play before I got started (with a sick SIFL tag) and he would be looking out for me along the way.

I started my journey in Buffalo that night and 27 years and 85 shows later I am still walking the long road. I don’t plan on ever getting off. As long as there is road to walk, I will be there to walk it.

8/3/2000 – Daughter/It’s OK – Virginia Beach, VA

After seeing one show on the Yield tour (Molson Park in Barrie) and traveling to the Bay Area for Bridge School in 1999, Pearl Jam finally announced a North American tour for the first time in my adult life. Binaural came out on May 16, 2000. Europe would go first and then they would finish the summer and start the fall touring in North America. When the tour was announced my eyes got huge and I circled around 20 shows I wanted to go to. The timing was good, many of the shows would be in August while I was on break from college. The fall shows would be around my birthday and be over before midterms or anything else at school that would take me away from touring. 20 shows. ANDIAMO!

I woke up the next day and retuned to reality. I couldn’t afford 20 shows. I could probably swing 10, but 20 was a bit too ambitions. Columbus, three in New York City, Saratoga Springs, two in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Montreal, and Detroit could all be done by car. New York/Saratoga would end up being a plane/train travel extravaganza but that is a story for another time. Then we decided to add Pearl Jam 10 in Vegas and do one trip out west. That meant 12 shows. That meant I needed to spend all of May and June and most of July on the road working hockey schools and saving my money.

I bought all of the tickets at the brokers office that sold me my ticket to the Buffalo show we talked about yesterday. His name was Kip and he took a liking to me. I would do random jobs for him like wait in line for tickets or make deliveries and he would pay me in tickets to Buffalo Sabres games. He had this device called the demon dialer and it helped us get tickets when they all went on sale at basically the same time. He bought tickets to all of the shows I was going to and let me sell them at the shows. Any money I made I could keep and put them towards the price of my tickets. He really just did it to help me out. He didn’t make any money and I never charged anyone more than what it took to cover my own ticket and that was always way less than what the pros were asking for.

With my tickets purchased and my travel arrangements set, I spent the summer working hockey schools and following the tour in Europe. I went on Five Horizons 2,000,000 times that summer to check the setlist, read the review and listen to whatever random MP3 that might leak out here and there. Mostly, I just waited. Each show played meant one show closer to my first show. The sets seemed great, the fans seemed happy, and all was well. Then, tragedy stuck in Denmark.

When I first heard the news, I thought Pearl Jam might be done. I didn’t know if they would be able to continue, at least not in August. I was crushed for them, the fans and their families affected and I just knew bad news would be coming. I didn’t go that way. Instead, they decided to play on. As soon as that decision was made, I knew I had to be there for them when the tour resumed. I needed to be at the first show. I didn’t care where it was or how much it was going to cost.

Virginia Beach, Virginia. That didn’t sound that far away. I had no idea. I went to Mapquest and it spit out an estimation of ten hours and about 600 miles. That would work. I called Kip and he took my night one tickets in Philadelphia (he had just got a call about that show) and would buy me the tickets to Virginia Beach. I booked a cheap motel and my friend Mike and I decided to go. From the idea to go, and the planning it took to take care of the logistics, about fifteen minutes had passed. It was impulsive and reckless, but cathartic and necessary (at least in my mind).

We left Buffalo at 6:00 in the morning. We figured that would get us into town around 4:00 and give us plenty of time to check into the hotel, get some food, and get to the venue. We took my 1997, black, Ford Escort SE. I bought it about 3 months prior and it was a reliable but not great car. We had printed out directions from Mapquest, a few dollars in our pockets, no phone, and not a clue what it was we were actually doing. I don’t think I made it exactly clear to my parents either or they would have never allowed it. The most important thing we brought with us on that trip was our youthful ignorance. We brought that everywhere that tour and by the grace of god it served us well.

The drive to Virginia went as planned. We hit some traffic in D.C. but that could have been much worse. We arrived to find the hotel we booked was a dump and barely inhabitable. Good enough. We ate Burger King watched baseball a sports bar near the venue because the weather was terrible. Finally, we went to the venue to get settled. We had good seats in-between Jeff and Ed about half way up the seated area. We bought t-shirts. I bought the poster. The mood was tense. Everyone there knew the task at hand. Pearl Jam had walked through hell on the long road to get there and we needed to make sure our welcome was delicate, supportive, and affirmation of their decision to even be there at all.

I remember when the lights went down and feeling so nervous for them. I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like to be in their shoes. Maybe its vanity, maybe more youthful ignorance, but I felt like I really needed to be at my best for them. I felt like Pearl Jam needed me, all of us, more that ever that night. Looking back, I’m not sure but I’m glad I was there.

The show started with Long Road and was followed by two very emotional performances of Corduroy and Grievance. Both songs and many others that night featured subtle lyrical changes that surely weren’t done by accident. When Ed finally addressed the crowd he seemed nervous and emotional. He asked us to be safe. He dedicated Off He Goes to one of the fans who had passed away in Denmark. Then came Daughter and then just before the tag was to begin came the moment.

From Five Horizons:
Ed says, “The last time we had to ask the crowd to do something it was … a little nervewracking … I was gonna ask you to do something and maybe you’ll do it?” The crowd answers “YES!” Ed continues: “Sing loud ’cause it’s outside. And sing loud because you’re sti… you’re still alive… Just sing loud, all right?” and then they careen back into ‘It’s OK’ by Dead Moon (Ed consults his notebook for help with lyrics).

I was singing. I was singing like my entire life depended on it. They asked me to help them with this and that is exactly why I made this trip. I did it to be there for them. I felt relieved, they did us. They needed to see us, and to hear us, and for us to let them know that ITS OK.

I still watch the clip on YouTube often. It’s one of the moments on my journey on the long road that I love to relive whenever I can. The emotion, the energy, the feeling. It was all so powerful. If I needed to show someone just a clip on YouTube to explain why I’ve been to 86 shows, this is the one I would pick. Being there, in that moment, being a part of it, that is what keeps bringing me back tour after tour. I want to be there for the next moment. I’ve been so lucky to be in the building for so many powerful moments, like in New York for It’s OK just a few weeks later. Almost equally as epic.

10/22/2003 – Man Of The Hour – Benaroya Hall

It was a hot night in July in Hershey, PA and I was walking out of Hershey Stadium sad that I had just seen my last show on the Riot Act tour. I had gotten to 12 shows that spring/summer including the legendary Buffalo/State College weekend, two unforgettable night at Madison Square Garden and two weird and quirky shows just outside of Detroit. I upped my show count to 30 and heard all of the Riot Act songs. It was an awesome tour, but I am greedy. I wanted more.

I got back to Buffalo, worked a few hockey schools, and then went back to college. Shortly after starting class and right after I cashed my refund check, the band announced they would play a show in Seattle for charity at something called, Benaroya Hall. I had money to burn, had never seen Pearl Jam in a small venue, and still had enough of that youthful ignorance to convince myself that I could just jump on a plane to Seattle in the middle of a school week and go to a Pearl Jam show. I had the cash. I just needed tickets.

I talked my friend Matt into meeting me in Seattle (he lived in Pittsburgh) on the day of the show, going to the show, staying overnight in Seattle, and then returning home the next day. School and work would barely miss us and it would be awesome. Matt later told me that he only agreed to the plan because he didn’t think there was a chance in hell that we would actually get tickets.

On the morning the tickets went on sale we had about six people spread out in various locations between Pittsburgh and Buffalo in-front of computers with broadband internet connections. Dial-up would have no chance to slay this beast. We brought the event page up on Ticketmaster and agreed that at exactly 1:00 PM EST we would attempt to purchase two tickets. If we got more that two, great, we would just sell them off later. I tuned the television next to me onto the TV Guide channel because it had a clock WITH seconds counting up in the corner of the grid on the screen. I needed to know EXACTLY when it was 1:00.The clock struck 1:00, and I refreshed the page, changed the dropdown to two and clicked the purchase button. Friends and family from Buffalo to Pittsburgh did the same. Our cursors spun around for a bit and then the web page jumped ahead to the next screen. Everyone struck out…except me. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. It just so happened that on my roommate Nicole’s computer, in our apartment near SUNY Fredonia, I had the most clutch moment of my life. Flights we purchased, the hotel was booked, and the tickets were in hand (well, they came in the mail a few days later). We were actually doing this.

The day of the show I woke up before the rooster and jumped a flight from Buffalo to Chicago before catching my connection to SEA. Matt and I met up in Seattle, grabbed some lunch, crammed in some tourist attractions, checked into the hotel, caught a nap, ate some more, and headed to the venue. When I got out of the taxi I ended up face to face with ESPN’s Kenny Mayne. It was almost like he was waiting for me or something. I wanted to get in early to get a poster or a t-shirt or whatever they were selling inside to commemorate the night. I walked up to the door, the guy patted me down and we walked in. It seemed really fast. It also seemed like I was somehow the first person in the building. Well… that was because we had inadvertently cut a line that was apparently wrapped around the block. I promise you I never seen it.

We ran up to the merchandise table and I was disappointed to see that the poster and t-shirt were identical and both were some kind of weird George W. Bush Halloween thing I was never going to wear or hang up in my bedroom. I just took a pass and moved on. We had tickets in the first row of the balcony and we were anxious to check them out. We were also lost pretty quickly in a venue that was more like a building on a college campus than a concert hall (it turns out there was a really great reason for that). We stumbled into an open ballroom with a party going on inside. We walked in to check it out and realized it was an auction or something the charity was throwing and we clearly weren’t invited. We walked out and I noticed an elevator across the hall. As I squinted to see where it might lead, a young girl behind me politely asked me for my autograph. This was weird because, well, I’m not famous. I turned around to make sure she hadn’t lost her mind and standing directly next to me was none other than, Eddie Vedder.

It was Eddie Vedder, the autograph seeker, Big Pete, Matt, and myself in the hallway near the elevator. That’s it. I looked at Ed. He looked back at me. I managed to tilt my head a tad as if to say, “hey man, what’s up.” He did the same. I looked over at my friend, and he looked like the librarian at the beginning of Ghostbusters. He looked back at me and later said that I also looked like a I had failed to squeeze my cheeks shut and had shit my pants. Ed signed the autograph and the girl ran back into the party. It was just the four of us now. Pete pushed the button to call the elevator. I was telling myself to say something. I was telling myself to do something. SAY OR DO SOMETHING!!! EDDIE VEDDER IS STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO YOU. The elevator opened and Pete walked in first holding the side of the door like you do so other people can get in the elevator and the doors won’t shut on their heads. I was thinking, “GET IN THE ELEVATOR. GET IN. GO RIDE AN ELEVATOR WITH EDDIE VEDDER. MAYBE HE WILL LEAD YOU TO PEARL JAM. MAYBE HE WILL INVITE YOU BACKSTAGE AS HIS GUEST AND ASK YOU TO WRITE THE SETLIST. GET ON. At this point, Ed was in the elevator and he and Pete looked back at me to see if we were getting on as well. We didn’t. The doors closed. I choked, we choked, the moment had passed. My performance in that moment was worse than Bill Buckner at Shea Stadium or Scott Norwood at Super Bowl XXV. I choked. I’m still not over it.

After the Vedder fiasco, Matt and I took our seats. We talked about what the show might be. We speculated on song choice, how the music would sound, how close they would look. The lights went down, Of the Girl began and from there they went on to destroy everyone of our wildest expectations. They put on the greatest Pearl Jam show I had been to before and still to this day. Ask me what show was the best of my 86, and I am going to tell you Benaroya every time. Man of the Hour and Fatal debuted. I got to hear Around the Bend, I Believe in Miracles (acoustic), Sleight of Hand, and All or None back to back to back to back. Parting Ways, Down, Dead Man, and the greatest version of Black I have ever heard were also played. I read a quote from Mike later saying that when the crowd all sang the “…beautiful life..beautiful star..” section of the song he took in all of our energy and felt it come out through his fingers during the solo. Fucking awesome. The show was also the 31st show that I didn’t hear All Those Yesterdays (more on that later in the week).

There is one more thing. After the show, I flew home and life went on. Until it stopped. On December 8, 2003 my appendix ruptured and I almost died. I needed a bowel reconstruction and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I’ve struggled with the disease since and had my fourth reconstruction last February. My life is different now and has been since that day. The last significant moment of my life, my healthy life, and the last of my youthful ignorance was spent in Seattle, October of 2003. It’s the last thing I remember before getting sick. Everything changed after that night at Benaroya Hall, but what a way it was to use it all up.

If you want to learn more about my health, my life today, and the podcast I do, you can read this article that Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim wrote about me in May of 2021. Yes, for some reason Ill never fully fathom, Sports Illustrated wrote about me.

7/16/2013 – Sad – London, Ontario

In March of 2013, I had my second bowel reconstruction. In April, my brother and his Yale hockey teammates won the Frozen Four. In July, with the help of Richard Deitsch, I went viral. I had tweeted a picture from the celebration with my brother and declared it a photo of the best moment of my life. A few days later, Richard seen the tweet and asked his followers for pictures of their best moments. CNN wrote about it. It was a wild and exhausting time.

If you go back to the end of February, I was waiting for surgery after being in the hospital for over a month. My brother called me complaining about his team’s five game losing streak and the harsh rules his coach put on the team to help them snap out of it. I told him, just keep working and you guys will be in Pittsburgh for the Frozen Four. I will keep fighting and meet you there. It worked out for both of us and by the summer I was tired and needed a show. At this point I had been to 72 shows including PJ10, PJ20, and two more home shows. But, It had been two years. My last show was the 2011 Hamilton show almost two full years before Pearl Jam showed up in London, ON for a one off on July 16, 2013. PJ had played a few shows in South America in the spring and were getting ready for their first show at Wrigley Field in Chicago. I guess this show was a warmup.

Due to the proximity of Buffalo to Canada, I have crossed the border hundreds of times. When I was a kid, we would cross an international border on a Tuesday to get Chinese food. I played hockey there growing up, went to WrestleMania VI in Toronto, went to countless Tragically Hip and Our Lady Peace shows across Southern Ontario and spent several days on Sherkston Beach. After 9/11, It wasn’t as easy to cross as it was before. The law said you needed an enhanced driver’s license, but I never got one. I just kept crossing. Canada never cared and the US guys would be annoyed, but what could they do? One thing was different this time, my license was also expired. I had been through a lot. I wasn’t paying attention to the mail. The good news was that I noticed at about 9:30 PM on July 15, 2013. So that left exactly NO time to fix it.

My friend Matt from the Benaroya blog was in Buffalo to travel to the show with me and my dear friends Don and Michelle Beaver were scheduled to join us. We had reserved a posh hotel near the venue to sleep after the show. All that was between me and my 73rd Pearl Jam show was a border agent. If he didn’t let me across, my mates were going to leave me there and head on without me. I would catch a ride how in shame. My plan was to bring the expired ID with my birth certificate and pretend I had no idea anything was wrong. We pulled up to the Queenston Lewiston bridge and waited. When it was our turn we pulled up and in the politest way possible turned over all of our documents. The dude in the box was pleasant, already knew about the show, asked a couple of questions, gave us all of our documents back and said, “I hope you guys get Glorified G tonight. And we were off.

I had already been to a show at this venue before back in 2005. It was brand new then but was now a little seasoned with banners that Patrick Kane raised but was still the intimate, cozy barn it was eight years ago. Mike (my brother in Crohn’s) and Ed emerged from the dark to start the show with a moving and appropriate version of Present Tense. It was the perfect song for me at the perfect time. It was a reminder to let go of all of the terrible and painful moments the year had produced and live in the moment. I wiped a tear from my cheek and then another after an equally beautiful version of Nothingman. Mind Your Manners was another debut for me. I have been lucky to see Pearl Jam debut so many great songs (like Man of the Hour and Fatal at Benaroya). It was time to rock.

The show played off like a mini-Vic Theatre with lesser played gems like Alone, In Hiding, Parachutes, Man of the Hour and the greatest gem of them all, SAD. Black is probably my favorite Pearl Jam song but if it isn’t, Sad is. After I got sick in December of 2003, I returned to school with the intention of going back to class when they started at the end of January. I didn’t make it. Instead, I cried in my apartment all day long and listened to Sad over and over. Lost Dogs had just come out that Fall and it was fresh and awesome and powerful and just made me feel something other than sick. I went home for surgery and didn’t return until the fall semester. I pulled another Benaroya and used my refund money to go to the Boston shows. Then I used what was left to go to Toledo (my least favorite of the 86) and Grand Rapids on the VFC tour. We were going to go to Reading too but decided it was too much. When I seen they debuted Sad, I almost killed Matt. He got off the hook when Neil Young caught a plane to anywhere but Michigan after the Toledo show and Pearl Jam played it in Grand Rapids. Ever since the first time I heard it, Sad was just my song. It was a treat to hear it in London that night.
After the show, I told Matt and Don that I would be getting engaged that fall and I wanted them to be in the wedding. Matt agreed, but Don told me to fuck off. Just kidding.

London proved to be a great way to get back on the long road. I was also the 73rd show that I didn’t hear All Those Yesterdays….

9/8/2022 – All Those Yesterdays – Toronto, Ontario

In 2019, I had three surgeries in 296 days. I had my third bowel reconstruction but this time I also had a temporary ileostomy. After a period of time that needed to be reversed and then I needed a surgical hernia fixed. It was a grind. After, I was healthy enough to travel to Florida to take my daughter to Disney World and after a week in the sun, the plane landed in Buffalo on March 3, 2020. I turned to my wife and said, “It’s Pearl Jam time.” I had three Pearl Jam concerts on my calendar in the next 13 days. It was about to go down and then it didn’t. Instead, everything was cancelled, the world shut down, and we all went home and watched weird documentaries about a guy with a mullet goofing around with tigers.

As I waited out the pandemic at home, I updated all of my stats. I had been to 83 shows and needed only to hear All Those Yesterdays to be able to say I had heard every single Pearl Jam song released on a studio album that had been played live (so excluding the silliness on Vitalogy and the red dot on Yield).

After three long years, I stood next to my brother on the beach in Atlantic City waiting to welcome Pearl Jam back to the stage at the Sea Hear Now festival. It was nice to be out in the sun, with my brother, watching the best band in the world. I knew in the back of my head, something wasn’t right. I knew where I was headed. I put it out of my mind and enjoyed a handful of debuts from Gigaton, a few other big moments, and my 84th show without hearing All Those Yesterdays.

By Christmas, I knew it was over. I somehow ground out the first month of 2022 before basically collapsing in my house and taking a lonely ambulance ride to eight months of hell. I had my fourth bowel reconstruction in February and for the second time I went home with a temporary ileostomy. I wasn’t home for long before developing an infection around St. Patrick’s Day. I ended up septic and spending a few days in the ICU. It was the lowest days of my life and the most scared I ever was about my mortality. I fought through it and got home with my family where I followed along with the west coast Pearl Jam shows and waited to have the ileostomy reversed. In June, just that happened. After 133 days with a bag, it was such a relief to be rid of it. After some time recovering in the hospital, I walked out of the front door having felt like it was another victory for the good guys. I spent 60 days in the hospital (5 in the ICU), had 17 CMs of my colon removed, had an ileostomy for 133 days and had the second surgery to reverse it. It was the middle of July, I was getting stronger, and Pearl Jam was right around the corner.

I celebrated my 42nd birthday on September 1, 2022. In all, I have had four bowel reconstructions and several other surgeries related to my battle with Crohn’s disease. I had lost and gained a few hundred pounds, and spent too many nights alone in the hospital. With that said, I walked out of the front door of the hospital every single time. Much like Pearl Jam, I’m still alive, thriving, and walking down the long road I started way back on October 1, 1996. I was 16 then and full of youthful ignorance.

On September 6, 2022, I stood in front of my seat at the Copps Coliseum (I still call it that) waiting for Pearl Jam. I had made it. They had made it. We all had made it. It’s not all about me. We all have our shit and some people waiting there with me had been through much more than I had. I have never felt like I was given more than I could handle and I always felt like by fighting my fight I was protecting my brothers and now my daughter from going through it. If it had to be someone, let it be me. I can handle it. All I need is reasonable pain control and a few Pearl Jam shows now and again to get my head straight.

After some waiting, Pearl Jam emerged from the dark haze to play Oceans. It was the first song I heard way back in 1996 and it felt like a full circle moment. Nothingman, Man of the Hour, a beautiful version of Inside Job (written by my brother in Crohn’s, MM) and my song, SAD were the highlights. It was a beautiful night of recovery. I left the arena that night feeling strong. I also left having been to 85 Pearl Jam shows without hearing All Those Yesterdays.

I drove to Toronto telling myself to above all else just enjoy the night. Don’t worry about the songs that they play or the songs that they don’t play. I knew it was my last Pearl Jam show of they year. More than I ever, I just wanted to enjoy every second. I was so glad just to be there. I traveled down the long road that night with my friend Donald Beaver from the last blog. I quickly met Randy at a bar near the venue before the show and signed his flag. I met up inside with my former college roommate Nicole whose supercomputer helped me score Benaroya tickets.

When the lights went off, I was already crying. I just felt so damn grateful. Daughter awkwardly started the show before an ungodly version of Come Back blew the roof off of the joint. Then, Sometimes. Sometimes, Sometimes is awesome, and on that night it was. Then it finally happened.

The Queen had died earlier that day. I watched some of the TV coverage before I left for the show. Apparently Ed did as well. He asked if he we could listen to him play some Paul McCartney and went into a brief version of Her Majesty from Abbey Road. As Ed played the last note, Stone played the first notes of ALL THOSE YESTERDAYS!!!!!! The chase was finally over. I turned to Don who was already smiling, he knew of the journey I had been on. I jumped around, hugged Don, told the people behind me a six-second version of what was happening (there is little chance they heard a word I was saying) and then I just tried to enjoy it. My phone was blowing up in my pocket. My brother, following the show from his house in Alpine, NJ was congratulating me. I had taken him to his first Pearl Jam concert in that building back in 2005. He has been to a dozen shows with me since and even a couple without me (including the TEN show in Philadelphia, bastard). That has been the best part. I have been to shows with my mother, both of my brothers, my best friends, my roommates, my wife, and virtually every significant person in my life. Some of them like Pearl Jam more than others but they all attended at least one show just to experience it with me. Just to share my passion. I have been so blessed.

I’m home in Buffalo now. Crying again thinking about these stories and so grateful to the Live On 4 Legs community for letting me share them. It has meant a lot to me. I still have more stories to tell. Hopefully, this will be a place to tell more of them. Recently, I told a few on Randy and John’s fantastic podcast. Make sure you are checking that show every week and viewing the website whenever you can. The work they are doing is so important and I thank them for it.

We wait now, for more shows to be announced and another chance to take some steps down the long road. Whenever that is, I will be there, with my daughter in hand, whatever is left of my colon, and new mission to hear the last few Gigaton songs that have eluded me so far. I hope I have a chance to meet all of you along the way.

For now,

Steve Bennett

I was up too late one night flipping channels and stumbled upon Headbangers Ball. Ed and Mike were the guests and the next day I asked my Mom to take me to the mall to buy their CD. Pearl Jam was the first band that was mine and not one I borrowed from my father. I went to my first show in 1996 and have been to 86 so far. I am the host of The Sports-Caters Podcast, you can subscribe on any podcast platform.

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