Episode 130: Buffalo, NY – 5/2/2003

We continue covering the tour years offered through the Deep project and Spotify with this absolute gem from the Riot Act tour. Buffalo was the second to last show from the first leg and it took place during a notable run. The night prior on Long Island, they were getting quarters hurled at them for mocking the President and the following night in State College, the tour ender is one of the longest shows of all-time. Only Pearl Jam you guys… Joining us to tell the stories from the night is our Patron Randy Morgan! Coming off that highly controversial show at Nassau Coliseum, there was a sense that the purpose of the Buffalo show would be meant to unite the crowd rather than divide. Examples of that were the most apparent in two spots – the tag of Wishlist and their cover of Patti Smith’s People Have The Power. Without blatantly addressing the infamous Bu$hleaguer moment (aside from a part where he mentioned there had been a lot of booing lately) they put aside whatever political differences they may have had with the crowd to play songs that would make everyone feel like they were a part of something special. Other big moments – just listen to the first 5 songs from this night! Can you ask for anything better to kick off your show? And Randy (guest Randy) will tell the story of how a simple writing accident led to his song request being granted.

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Episode 109: Mexico City, MEX – 7/19/2003

This is the penultimate episode in our Around The World series as we dip into this great Mexico City tour closer from 2003. There are many ingredients in the recipe for a perfect show, but the integral pieces from this set are so unique and unlike any other of its kind. First off, it’s a tour closer. Second, it’s a lucrative night 3 show, those don’t come around too often. Does it have rare songs? You bet! Guest appearances? Hell Yeah! Well, it can’t possibly happen to have all of that AND be on the birthday of a band member, right? Oh, you are in for a treat my friend! The band says goodbye to the far traveled and controversial Riot Act tour by throwing a massive party to celebrate. It happens to be the founding member, Stone Gossard’s date of birth, so what’s a better gift than to bring out a mariachi band to sing Las Mananitas, La Bamba and Guantalamera? You can tell from the energy on the stage how good a mood everyone is in for this show as they play up to a red hot crowd and hangout with friends and tour opener Sleater-Kinney. Big highlights from this night include an opener of Wash, Hunger Strike feat. Corin Tucker, Black, Rearviewmirror with an improv, Mankind for Stone and a phone call to none other than Johnny Ramone before a performance of I Believe In Miracles. It’s a show more than worthy of a high spot on Pearl Jam’s all-time lists!

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Episode 106: Atlanta, GA – 4/19/2003

In this episode we celebrate the city of Atlanta, Georgia that deserves praise for their tremendous voter turnout helping the state go blue for the first time in 28 years! And Atlanta knows about long periods of waiting because in this episode we’ll discuss the last non-festival show in the city that happened 17 years ago! That’s FIVE albums since Atlanta has gotten a proper show! This one is an important one, and we invite long time patron Glenn Bobe to tell his story from that night. After a contentious performance in Nashville the night prior, the political rage was building up during this time period. Anything having to do with patriotism, support of President Bush or the Iraq War set the band off. This show has a moment from the very early onset where an oversized American flag was blocking the view of fans seated on the lawn. This set Ed off during an aggressive performance of Grievance and set the tone for a night where politics needed to be part of the conversation. But that was the era – a tumultuous time that had everyone on edge. However, the band brought their A (or B+) game for a show that doesn’t get talked about all that often during this era. This show had its crowd pleasing moments with a few rare appearances including Glorified G that made a comeback that year, Present Tense that was played for the first time in 65 shows and only the 3rd appearance of Crown of Thorns with the first noted Chloe Dancer tease accompanying it. You’ll also hear stellar performances of 1/2 Full and Black and a moment in Corduroy that is commonplace for today’s versions, but was potentially snuck in for the first time here.

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Episode 103: Nassau Coliseum – 4/30/2003

Warning: This episode contains sensitive topics of a political nature including the landscape of the world after the 9/11 tragedy. The energy in this episode is more angry and fired up than usual, which is saying a lot. If this seems unsettling to you, please avoid this episode. So it’s come to this. You knew we couldn’t have a series featuring Pearl Jam’s most political moments without talking about this polarizing show. Nassau Coliseum will forever go down in infamy due to the perceived controversial actions that Ed displayed on stage, but even moreso due to the horrid fan reactions that followed. Anyone who has seen PJ20 remembers this story: Ed comes out on stage dressed up in his sparkling silver jacket donning facial wear representing then current President George W. Bush. They performed the track called Bu$hleaguer off their touring album Riot Act that so eloquently called out the President’s actions. Ed riled up the crowd by mocking the maligned leader. He put a cigarette in the mask’s mouth and poured a bottle of wine into it. He also displayed affection with the plastic piece of paraphernalia. Whether it was done to incite a riot or not (it was) the crowd retaliated by throwing quarters, garbage, t-shirts or whatever they could find onto the stage that had the band fearing for their lives.

This was only 17 years ago and our average listener is probably in their 40s, so it’s a high probability that you remember the time period, one that this current administration makes look like a favorable memory. While the country struggled to cope after the events from 9/11, the situation was escalated in suburban townships in Nassau and Suffolk County Long Island. Everyone knew someone who was affected. Maybe your neighbor was FDNY, its possible your cousin was a first responder, or even worse, you had a friend or family member in one of those buildings or on a plane. Any way you slice it, the area was in such close proximity to the attack that it was impossible not to feel the lingering effects.

With sadness comes pain and pain can turn into anger. Anger can turn into anything. It didn’t matter to them who it was – Afghanistan, Iraq it didn’t make a difference. They were attacked by people who looked different than them and turned jingoistic acts of racism into justifiable reactions. This was life on Long Island from 2001-2008.

Okay so there was actually a show outside of this mess of a controversy and it turns out, it was pretty damn good! 2003 was the sweet spot. Veteran songs such as Animal, Not For You and Even Flow meshed well with the rookie standouts like Save You, I Am Mine and the now super rare cut of Get Right. It gets lost within the headlines, but had this show gone a different route, people may be calling it the best from this tour.

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Episode 95: Benaroya Hall – 10/22/2003

In this episode we’re covering Benaroya Hall – the 2,500 seat capacity Seattle venue usually known for being an orchestra concert hall was taken over by an insane Pearl Jam crowd there to witness the band perform some of their rarest cuts in rare form. The band usually known for their on-stage energy were confined to a seated position as they busted out, for the most part, an acoustic set of songs that fans hadn’t heard live before. They were treated to live debuts of two original songs – Fatal and Man of the Hour and a rare Johnny Cash cover of 25 Minutes To Go. But alongside the debuting tracks were songs so deep in the band’s back catalog that these fans might’ve needed to be on a different continent in order to have heard them before. Versions of Low Light and Around The Bend were sparse at the time and adding songs such as Parting Ways, All Or None, Dead Man and Masters of War gave the crowd plenty to cross off the checklist. We’ll do it old school style and go song-by-song in full as we talk about the once in a lifetime event and what made it so legendary. We’ll also recap the story shared by Kenny Mayne in our profile episode about how a ticket to this show fell into his lap during a Sonics game.

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Episode 68: Nagoya, JP – 3/6/2003

We travel back around the world to look into one of the shows from the 2003 Japan tour. This being an early show from the Riot Act era, the band was still getting a feel for how the new songs worked on the live stage. Joining us for this episode is patron Eddie Quintana to talk about his passion for the album and the era. Nagoya is a unique show, but one that doesn’t get brought up enough in the pantheon of Pearl Jam performances. It took place in a small college theater holding only a few thousand in attendance, and while Eddie had to use a translator to connect with the crowd, the usual songs with sing-along sections such as Better Man and Daughter lacked their usual punch. It’s interesting to witness this as we break down how the call and response in the hit songs fell by the wayside in some of these Japanese shows. Another thing that made this show different centers around a lengthy, jammy improv in the middle of the set without Eddie’s presence followed up by a completely different take on Immortality. The jammy songs were certainly in the forefront as we’ll discuss a tremendous rendition of You Are that fit the mold of this set. Other Riot Act era songs that we don’t get to discuss often such as Love Boat Captain, Get Right and the LO4L debut of Bu$hleaguer will get major focus as well.

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Episode 34: State College, PA – 5/3/2003

State College, PA is a show that goes down in history as a fan favorite. Being the final show of the first leg of the 2003 US tour, the band decided to pull out all the stops to make this one of the longest shows in their history. 3 hours and 37 minutes later, the band made good on their promise. This is a set list where strength is less in numbers and more in… well, strengths. It’s proof that going by the book and playing common songs in common spots is never a bad recipe for a Pearl Jam show. Within 36 songs lies 4 separate sets with an incredible encore 3 that lasted for about 45 minutes. Funny enough, it’s the rare content that has its tough spots in this set. Songs like Mankind and Satan’s Bed hadn’t been played in some time, but both songs (which were played due to fan requests in encore 2) had a rough go of it that night, even if the band was out there having fun with them. They are memorable moments from this night, but will we give it a pass because of it? Patreon donor and friend of the podcast Patrick Boegel joins us for this show talking about his experience on that night.

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Episode 33: Madison Square Garden – 7/9/2003

Through 32 episodes we’ve covered emotional moments, historical moments, legendary moments. Band defining moments such as the push for Breath at MSG, Immortality with original lyrics at The Orpheum and when the stage shook during Do The Evolution. Throughout all three of these iconic moments, one of us on this podcast shrugged them off and downplayed their impact. I was worried that Matt would never get to break out and enjoy the emotions of a performance instead of critiquing the sound…That is until this episode! We continue our coverage of the MSG series with the second night of 2003, one of the earliest show’s that Matt attended. For years and years and years Matt talked about how Crazy Mary was one of the band’s best openers, only for the band having ever done it twice. I shrugged him off and called him… Crazy… due to the song being a staple in the encore act. Low and behold we finally get to talk about it and while it has emotional impact for Matt, I find a way to make good logical sense of the decision. Overall the band had to follow a tough act from the night before where they were greeted with special guests and rocked so hard that the stage shook. They put together a great mix of the old and the rare tracks that were uncommon in 2003 such as Deep and Glorified G and spliced in some Riot Act songs that still to this day remain rarities – including Get Right that hasn’t been played since that tour.

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Episode 29: Madison Square Garden – 7/8/2003

A legendary performance in a legendary venue that turned into a legendary concert DVD. We continue our year long MSG series focusing on the band’s 3rd time playing the famous arena and it’s one of their most iconic shows of all-time. Randy and Matt have a lot to discuss in this episode, including how this show was one of the first live exposure that Randy had to the band. From the moment the DVD showcased the black and white photos of NYC landmarks and dissolved into the piping organ of Love Boat Captain, there’s a certain aura you can feel. It paved the way for a night chock full of amazing moments. Of those moments, none may be more memorable than the appearance of long time Pearl Jam friend Ben Harper. His rendition of Indifference and the tag of With My Own Two Hands on Daughter go down as two of the best collaborations that have ever happened on a Pearl Jam stage. We talk about how Harper captured two major emotional moments from this show and how people still talk about them to this day. Also, lest we forget that this was the night they SHOOK the stage at the Garden during Do The Evolution! Legend be told at the time, they shared this distinction with only the Grateful Dead, Iron Maiden and Bruce Springsteen. Was this the moment that turned Pearl Jam from great band into legendary band?

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Episode 25: Holmdel, NJ – 7/14/2003

As the band waved goodbye to a historic 2003 US tour, they went out with a unique bang taking two songs from every album and playing them in chronological order. While it was a creative way to break into the first set, a major part of this episode debates whether or not they made the right song choices from each album. With some dead spots within the set, could the band found a better way to develop this arrangement or did they put themselves into an awkward position? Along with a memorable first set, they were joined in the encore by opening act Sleater-Kinney for an array of covers, including a rare version of Hunger Strike. We’ve been critical of the SK appearances before, but did they redeem themselves this time around?

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Episode 19: Camden, NJ – 7/5/2003

The 2003 Riot Act tour has been seen by many as one of the pivotal tours in Pearl Jam’s entire legacy. Historic shows such as State College, The Mansfield Experiment and the show that spurned the Live At The Garden DVD all took place in a very busy year for them. Camden Night 1 fell right in between Mansfield and MSG during an amazing run for the band. On a hot summer night a day after the 4th of July, what better than seeing your favorite band with a fireworks display going off in the background? When the band notices and rearranges the set accordingly, you know you’re in for something special. As a disclaimer, this episode does get a little heavy into politics discussing how the band was handling their critics at a time where the country was at odds over a war. We do get a little bit into how our current situation in this country compares to what was happening then, but we do our best to try and understand both sides of the spectrum. Tied in with that we talk a lot about Eddie and Johnny Ramone’s friendship and how even through their differences they were able to find common ground.

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