2008 was an interesting year for Pearl Jam. Touring in between their Self-Titled and Backspacer releases, they were given the flexibility to experiment in their setlists moreso then they had in the past. On the 13-show east coast tour, there were songs that had been almost unfathomable to hear at a Pearl Jam show prior. Who You Are, All Night, a full version of W.M.A. and a solidified set opening role for Hard To Imagine are just some of the exciting additions brought into the fold in 2008. At the Washington DC show that we cover in this episode, we’ll hear some of those unique additions as well as a few twists and turns that made this setlist memorable. We’re all familiar with the “man” trilogy where the songs Nothingman, Leatherman and Better Man are played in sequence, that’s a frequent enough occurrence in setlists. The band pulled out not one, but TWO new trilogy series combining songs with the word “I” and the word “you”. These are fun inclusions that you’ll never see in a setlist outside of this unpredictable 2008 tour. As mentioned above, one of the songs that made a huge impact in 2008 was Hard To Imagine. After using it as an opener once in Halifax on the 2005 tour, they hadn’t gone back to it in the role since then. But the song would be played five times in 2008, all as the opener, solidifying its place among the pantheon of special opening songs.
Episodes Covering Pearl Jam Concerts in 2008
2008 is an under the radar tour year for Pearl Jam as the Avocado era was nearing it’s end. They went out on a 13-show east coast run where songs that they either hadn’t played in years or never played at all starting popping up in setlists. Fan favorite tracks like W.M.A. and Who You Are mixed in with Lost Dogs such as Sad, Education and All Night all found playing time during this tour. This show in Columbia, SC that we cover in this episode is a microcosm of that year. A big thank you goes out to our Patron Michael Keating for requesting this show! The craziest thing about this setlist is how incredibly balanced it was. No Code has the same amount of representation as Ten and Vs., Riot Act has more songs played than Yield and Vitalogy and there are Lost Dogs galore. The band took this opportunity of not having to promote an album as a platform to celebrate their entire discog and the fans reaped the benefits. This is definitely a stat heavy show and we’ll get into some of the gritty statistical details that may make this show feel amongst the rarest of the bunch
We’re back at the festival circuit for this episode! From Pinkpop 2000’s incredibly speedy sprint of a set, we change the landscape a little by bringing in the jammy atmosphere from the 2008 Bonnaroo show. Joining us to share his experiences is patron and friend of the podcast Mike Packard who was one of 80,000 that waited hours to get to see the band play. The curation of this set list was next to perfect, you had your hit songs that you’d expect from any set, but versions of Better Man, Black and Porch hover round 10 minutes long with the latter including one of Ed’s most impassioned speeches about making change. Along with hits and songs that give you energetic festival vibes, they busted a few songs out for the serious collectors. Lost Dog opener All Night makes it’s first ever live appearance on this show, as well as a full version of W.M.A. that hadn’t been performed in that fashion since 1995. We’ll also get to talk about the Kanye West controversy that came out of this show. His elaborate stage construction that took 2 hours to rig added in with his narcissistic demeanor threatening the show promoter to put him on stage at a time where no one else was playing. So Pearl Jam took advantage of the timeslot and played for an hour longer than allotted. Kanye’s response? Well, it was the beginning of a massive downward spiral that we hear at LO4L don’t give a rats ass about!
Mansfield, Massachusetts is an important place in the history of Pearl Jam as over the course of three shows there in 2003, the band attempted to play everything in their catalog without a repeat (with one small exception). This episode, however, takes us to five years after those experiment shows on a night that ended a short east coast leg of the 2008 tour. End of tour shows and night 2 shows in general are usually a little bit unpredictable, which is why the setlist had a few seldom heard songs slotted in. Education, Satan’s Bed, Bee Girl and an opener of Wash were just a few rare ones they busted out for the Boston adjacent crowd. We’ll also get knee deep into versions of Last Exit, Even Flow, Who You Are, Garden and Rockin’ In The Free World on this episode. Stay tuned until the end of the episode to hear a sneak preview of an episode of our monthly setlist draft that we feature on Patreon!
This episode was originally meant to be a celebration of the 1st leg of the Gigaton US tour, but due to circumstances surrounding the current global pandemic these plans were postponed. In the middle of recording this episode, we learned the news of the postponement. We went into this excited, discussing our plans and pumped to hear new music in Toronto and finished off dejected, not knowing what the next move would be. Now since we are all attempting to quarantine and stay as far away from COVID-19 as possible, keep in mind that Pearl Jam postponing was one of the first dominoes to fall and the news coming before bigger news such as the cancellation of March Madness gave us a major shock. Regardless of that, we do our best to put together an episode featuring a really unique setlist. If you’ve been a listener of this show since day one, you’ll remember how obsessive Matt was with hearing the song Big Wave live. Since this is our first occasion we’ve had to cover the song, Matt makes his return to the podcast for the first time in 9 months. Randy and Matt get excited that both of their white whales are back to back on this show and have somewhat of a regret for not taking the short drive to Connecticut two days after the MSG shows of 2008. Also joining us on this show is Dave JanTausch from LiveFootsteps.org, a statistical Pearl Jam tour tracker site that focuses on advanced numbers of the band’s live catalog. Dave was at this show and will talk about some of his favorite moments, including an accident that almost ruined the show for him entirely.
This episode is special for many reasons, so where do we start? We’re on our sixth installment of our MSG series and it’s something we’ve discussed a lot on the pod because it was Randy’s Pearl Jam live debut! There’s a lot to unpack in this episode with many memories to look back on, but the song with the most sentimental value on this show is far and away Release. It was the opener and obviously the first song Randy ever heard live and he’ll take you through all of the emotions of what it was like to have that one moment that you can never relive again. We finally get to discuss a long running inside joke we’ve shared on the podcast “I wrote the song, and I fucked that up” that McCready exclaimed while out of tune on Marker In The Sand. That and many other moments are brought up that Matt and Randy look back fondly of after 11 years of listening to this bootleg. Also, you’ll learn the definition of a Sobelgasm and maybe Ace Frehley will wander his way into conversation.
In our fifth installment of our year-long MSG series, we find the band returning to the mecca of entertainment for the first time in five years. Without an album to tour for or anything to promote, they had a blank canvas to fill where they could experiment a little bit. One of their experiments was inviting three backup singers on stage to perform three songs that were rare to hear at the time – All Night, Who You Are and W.M.A. It wasn’t one of the most enthralling parts of the show, but it is something that the band hasn’t dabbled with much in their history so we spend a little time discussing it. Many of our listeners wrote in and spoke of the show as being one of the weaker in their MSG run. We’ll let you make that determination after listening to the episode, but we do find points in this show where we point out that the set completely missed the mark. What made it fall flat? The answer consists of such simple Pearl Jam set list math that it’s obviousness may make you realize how you can’t overlook a working formula.