Episode 117: Ann Arbor, MI – 3/20/1994
About the Episode
We’re taking this episode back to the revered 1994 tour smack dab in the middle of the Vs. and Vitalogy records. It can be argued that 1994 was Pearl Jam’s most important year – it was a year where they stood their ground in the fight against Ticketmaster, a year where they spoke up about important social justice issues such as pro-choice rights, a year where they were about to fire their drummer, and it was the year where they grieved the loss of Kurt Cobain. The Ann Arbor show fell right in the middle of that tumultuous time as the 10th out of 21 shows on tour and as we’ll discuss throughout this episode, you could tell that the drama was weighing on them a bit.
Through the duration of this show we’ll talk about how Ed’s mood seemed to reflect one who was struggling to make it through the night. Visceral performances of songs like Daughter and Porch that utilized improvisations that weren’t necessarily out of character for him at the time, but they set a tone for the show expressing how fed up they were with the ticket fiasco. Ed even made mention to it later in the set and apologized for how impossible it was to get tickets that night. Blood was another performance where his frustration seemed to burst whilst on stage.
We also get a few very interesting moments that make this show unique. One of those moments featured Jeremy in the opener spot, something that hasn’t happened at a Pearl Jam show since. Three Vitalogy songs were played 9 months before the album would be released – Last Exit, Not For You and Nothingman, with the latter making it’s live debut and the only performance of the song for over two years. There’s also a very raw version of Yellow Ledbetter that was played for only the 5th time.