September 18, 2021 – Sea.Hear.Now Festival, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

Show Covered by Podcast

Show Notes:

After 1,110 days, Pearl Jam returns. 20 minutes before show time, the band’s tour bus and trailer drive down the beach, making its way to the stage. Right from the start, they debut 3 songs off Gigaton, starting with Dance…

Show Notes: 

After 1,110 days, Pearl Jam returns. 20 minutes before show time, the band’s tour bus and trailer drive down the beach, making its way to the stage. Right from the start, they debut 3 songs off Gigaton, starting with Dance Of The Clairvoyants, with Stone on bass and Jeff on guitar and keyboards, and Ed using a loop track at the end to sing around. Quick Escape and Seven O’Clock debut next, both immediate standouts, it’s evident that the band LOVE the new songs. Stone and Mike both have fantastic solos on Quick Escape, Ed puts on a guitar halfway through. Ed changes the line in Seven O’Clock, saying “…we had sitting bullshit as our fucking president.” Afterwards, he tells the first of many heartfelt stories of the night:

Good evening, Asbury Park…we got the moon lighting up the ocean…someone said I thought maybe we were nervous as the day got closer because six months ago it seemed like we would be in the clear, and then as the day got closer, it wasn’t…nothing was, or is guaranteed. I was getting a little bit nervous and thinking about everybody’s safety, and what we’ve been through as a band, you know, safety first, like every band up here, we care about you so fucking much…but then another reason to be nervous is we haven’t played as a group for three fucking years…we’re so glad you made it, we’re happy we could make it, we’re all gonna make it together

Corduroy has a very emphatic and timely “absolutely everything’s changed” lyric swap. Ed, again:

A year and a half ago, we were ready to play, and we were excited to play, and we had new songs to play, we were gonna start touring quite a bit, that was one of the inside jokes of naming the record, we called it Gigaton, it’s a unit of measurement, but you can also say gig-a-ton, we thought we were gonna be on the road quite a bit, and then the extraordinary and unthinkable happened…with all we’ve been through, it’s Sea Hear Now, all of us, but be here…now, in the present tense

Josh Klinghoffer is also introduced as part of the touring band, leading into a faithful Present Tense, highlighted by the crowd and Jeff, who hasn’t lost a step during the ending jam. Following the debut of Never Destination, Ed jokes about helping his daughter with Calculus by calling a tutor, but adds:

But my problem lately has been with English, and that’s because I’ve had such a difficult time thinking about how to communicate…the question that we have, why aren’t we able to come together more closely when we’re faced with such huge challenges, like climate change, and the pandemic, as a country and as a planet…this is what we need to be united, not divided…I think we all feel sometimes, and I wish we could reach out to our neighbor, and I wish we could understand our differences, and I wish we could come together and fight, you know, as if aliens were coming down from the universe, like an alien virus comes in and infects us all, and English was failing me, so I went to simple math, I’m gonna try out my equation on you, so multiply love, add hope, subtract fear, and end division

Even Flow feels rejuvenated, with a new groove and feel. Ed makes a mistake on the first verse and calls himself out on it. Mike’s solo builds at a very steady pace, getting more electric towards the end, dropping to his knees, slashing at the strings. Before Wishlist, Ed talks about the last three years, saying “stay in touch with the people you love,” and mentions the recent losses of Charlie Watts and Norm MacDonald. Wishlist is halted due to a crowd issue, Ed checks in to make sure everyone is okay before restarting, but it feels fresh and new, and is tagged with the Rolling Stones’ Waiting On A Friend, with lyrics changed to “wishing on a friend.” Superblood Wolfmoon gets its live debut next, Ed shouting and emoting throughout, the band taking it to another level than on record, and Ed gets the crowd clapping a la Do the Evolution at the end. Festival organizer and photographer Danny Clinch is invited out to play harmonica on Red Mosquito, bookending the 3-year absence nicely (he had played at the last Fenway show in 2018). Stone powers an intense, extended W.M.A. tag. The final Gigaton track to debut is Take the Long Way, punctuated by Mike’s heroics. Small Town is uplifting and cathartic. Stone thumps his chest as Given to Fly soars. Prior to Better Man, Ed relates the story of Bruce Springsteen’s 2020 DUI arrest in New Jersey, questioning the wisdom of the officers involved. Patti Smith’s People Have The Power is tagged on it, making its first appearance at a PJ show since 2010. Ed teases a couple of rafter climbs during Porch, only going up one step though. After the break, Ed introduces “some of Asbury’s finest local singers,” Jason, Alexander, Josh, and Michelle, and with piano accompaniment, they combine for a lovely version of Springsteen’s “My City Of Ruins,” which Ed had done solo but never before at a PJ show. Ed dedicates the second verse to Anita, a unique and special performance. Jeff and Stone jam together during the Alive solo, which also includes some of Voodoo Child at the very end. Lenny Kaye (from Patti Smith’s band) joins for a closing, celebratory Rockin’ in the Free World, the band having a blast and clearly glad to be back. Mike, masked up, takes the final solo down by the front row playing in front of a fan in a wheelchair. Light Years, Retrograde, Do the Evolution, River Cross, All Along The Watchtower, Unthought Known, and Down were all on the setlist but scratched for time.