In this episode we go back to our 2021 hometown series celebrating the best shows in the band’s 30-year history emanating from their Seattle residence. This surprise Showbox show from 1996 was the tune up for that fall’s No Code tour. We get EIGHT, yes, EIGHT song debuts from this night from the No Code record so there will be a lot of discussion about the earliest renditions of these songs and how they’d evolve. Sure, the first half of this show is No Code and as mentioned, basically everything is a debut (outside of previously played Habit and Red Mosquito) but we also get some important moments during the ‘jukebox’ set. We get the first ever extended Immortality intro and the first time Cinnamon Girl was tagged on I Got Shit. We’ll also get into a larger discussion about how some of the Ten, Vs. era songs weren’t clicking at the time the way they once were and also how Ed was considering new vocal changes that strayed from his mid-90s primal screaming.
We continue the politically charged Pearl Jam theme with a show that sets the standard for the band’s dedication to encouraging their fans to vote. Originally dubbed as a retirement party for former NC Senator, the bigoted Jesse Helms, this show in Charlotte prior to the 1996 election was one where the music was secondary to the mission which was to get the young people in attendance registered to vote. Joining the band on this night was activist Gloria Steinem who made a poignant speech about the importance of voting that can be repeated 24 years later and still have the same importance. On many occasions Ed would repeat that sentiment, even at a point during Porch where he painted a picture of the America that we as people can build together where everyone regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation could live free of hatred and bigotry. It was a maturing moment for the band as they’d expressed their political beliefs in prior years, but took this time to be proactive in helping achieve their goal in signing up registered voters. Over 1,000 new voters were registered that night. And wouldn’t you believe that the music was pretty good too? The band had to deal with a wild crowd that took to surfing and moshing right from the start of Long Road. Yeah, Long Road. On numerous occasions Ed has to calm the crowd down even invoking the two steps back practice to alleviate the rambunctiousness. Key highlights from this show include In My Tree, Immortality, Red Mosquito, Whipping and I Got Shit with the inclusion of Brendan O’Brien on bass.
We conclude the European portion of our Around The World series with a stop in Lisbon, Portugal that happened to be the final night of the No Code tour in 1996. The band and crowd brought their a-games and it made for an electrifying atmosphere with lots of chanting and hi-jinx abound. A big talking point from this show is centered around Mr. Stone Gossard who’s parents were in attendance to witness the event. You can tell its a setlist curated to some of Stone’s favorites because he’s always been a proponent of getting the hits in the set – which is why we see a three headed combo of Even Flow, Jeremy and Daughter in a row. But they also take a few fan requests to play some rarely heard tracks, one of which wasn’t played due to Stone forgetting the song entirely. Other cool facets of this setlist include the OTOTO opener of Who You Are, which would almost fade into oblivion after this tour, Not For You which features a classic Ed moment where he takes a second to rant about the meaning of the song, an Immortality that absolutely steals the show, and then of course Ed makes love to a push broom during Porch. How else is a tour supposed to end?
This episode focuses on one of the most well known shows from the No Code era. The Berlin 1996 performance is remembered fondly because it was one of their shows that was broadcast live on radio stations throughout the world in the same way that Atlanta 94 and Soldier Field were both showcased. This was a completely different era in the band’s history though as the trials and tribulations from No Code’s reception knocked the band off their perch as the biggest in the world. While their fame dwindled a bit, it allowed the band to present a looser live act with less scrutiny on them and all of the eyeballs paying attention belonging to those in for the long haul. Those who stuck with them were treated to a hell of a show that had one of the best first half main sets of any show in history. Kicking off with Long Road, their stretch from Last Exit, Animal, Hail Hail, Go and Red Mosquito and rounding out with Mankind and a Hunger Strike tease was a statement as to how powerful a live act they still were during a turbulent time period. Other main highlights that we’ll feature on this show include excellent versions of Sometimes, Immortality, Blood and a unique encore that wouldn’t quite fit in with today’s repertoire.
Coming off the heels of a major tour announcement where the band will be postponing the first leg of their Gigaton tour, we use the mantra “the show must go on” and use this time to continue to reminisce over the history of Pearl Jam. For now we go back Around The World to this year’s first stop in Europe discussing Budapest, Hungary from 1996. This is their only show in the country to date, but if all goes as planned they’ll be making their long awaited return this summer. This was a nice little No Code era show that might get lost in the shuffle. The most notable moment from this show is likely the live debut of Lost Dog, Black, Red, Yellow. We talk a lot about the No Code era during this tour and whether the band might’ve thought they were losing steam with their fanbase due to the record’s poor reputation at the time. But the band took it with stride and were still able to utilize the new songs in unique ways live. The show has fantastic versions of No Code tracks Who You Are and Habit as well as great performances of Daughter and Immortality. Joining us for this episode is Branden Palomo from the Better Band Podcast. If you want to be a guest on his show, reach out to him via social media on Facebook or Twitter.
In this episode, we dig into a show from the No Code tour in 1996 that was a popular bootleg back in the day, but not necessarily for the reason you’d guess. This Barcelona show featured a sound check that made the rounds throughout the Pearl Jam community because of three featured songs – Parting Ways, Hard To Imagine and I’m Open. While Parting Ways was 4 years from even being included on an album, the other two songs were ones rarely in Pearl Jam’s live repertoire at the time. While the sound check is certainly an interesting facet, we’ll talk about how in hindsight it might not be as good as was praised at the time. As for the show itself, it’s obviously very No Code heavy which we’ve talked about before. But there are interesting set decisions here that we wouldn’t usually see nowadays such as a mid-set version of Off He Goes and a late set version of Sometimes. Can’t forget to mention our Wishlist set choice for closer, Around The Bend, that was used in that spot for the third and last time here.
You’ll tune into this show for the Pearl Jam, but you’ll stay for the pizza and Muppet comparisons which are totally logical. We swear!