Pearl Jam Rocks Out Seattle, Finally!

How incredible is a new Pearl Jam record/cd release at Easy Street Records in West Seattle and their first Seattle concerts in something like 5 years to start a week?  Seattle finally is the place to be for a Pearl Jam fan!

Saturday night was the Pearl Jam “Backspacer Bash” & Midnight Sale at Easy Street.  Also a non-perishable food collection for the West Seattle Food Bank, who they made an incredible (and I’m sure well needed) haul for. We got a Pearl Jam tote bag and raffle ticket for our goods and there was a long line all night.

People were in from all over.  When I got off the bus I met a couple of young women taking pictures of the Pearl Jam mural on the Easy Street wall, who were in awe that I actually lived in Seattle (not knowing how rare Pearl Jam plays here), one from Australia, the other from Italy.  I pointed them in the direction of the QFC a block away because they wanted to buy some food to donate.

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I hung out most of the time in the West 5 overflow location (with Pearl Jam music playing and winning numbers relayed as well).  I headed back to Easy Street as it was getting closer to midnight, and was standing in line in the dining room area around the corner from the counter as they were calling the final numbers.  I was saying to the guy next to me who also had an early number that they hadn’t called any of ours, when I heard them finally call one and realized it was mine.

I won the Pearl Jam vs Ames Bros book, 3 posters, spacemen stickers and temporary tatoos. Then I waited my turn and bought the new Backspacer cd and the Pearl Jam Live at Easy Street cd (which they also sell online, for folks who don’t live in Seattle). Which I know begs the question – did the guys show up?  No, but Eddie sent us a text message through the store clerk.  He said the band had their last practice session that night and he just put the kids to bed and was turning in himself, but was there in spirit and in the speakers.

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As you can see, they were selling massive quantities of the album – the record (err, vinyl as they call it these days), as well as the cd!  I thought I was being old-school calling it a record release, but it really was.

So, I was (and am) still getting to know the album by the time of the concert Monday night (which was the one I had tickets to).  I went with my friend Merri Ann, who couldn’t make it to the album release Saturday night because she was doing a triathlon that started 7 am Sunday morning with friends and family. Swim, bike, run. . . or if you’re me, sleep in! All my friends are more healthy than me. I had fan tickets, so they were good seats (while I wish my number were lower – Pearl Jam rewards their long time fans by doing it by seniority, except for a random drawing for the first 2 and I think 9th & 10th rows).

Ben Harper and Relentless 7 opened. A lot more blues and harder driving than his folk rock I’m more familiar with.  Here’s a clip I found (actually from night 2):

So Ben and his band got us rocking good before the boys came out.  Time for a short break and to notice the Tom Tomorrow spaceman design was on Matt’s drum kit, which was really cool. Tom Tomorrow, who does the This Modern World cartoons, did all the artwork on the new album.

So, the lights dimmed and out came Pearl Jam, for the first time at Key Arena in years:

They opened with Long Road. Perfect: “I have wished for so long, how I wished for you today. . .”!

The new songs sounded great, and they played a lot of them that night.  We had the premier of the Backspacer album. A lot of hard rockers and just beautiful ballads.  The album just really flows.

Amongst the Waves, which had already captivated me on the cd, was just gorgeous live:

During the first encore, they brought out a string section that included Matt Cameron’s wife, April on viola to accompany them on Just Breath and The End.

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Official Pearl Jam Photo by Karen Loria

Boom Gasper, of course, accompanied them on the organ for many of the songs.  They also had a horn section for The Who’s The Real Me during the second encore.

Old songs – wow, from their catalog they played about everything I wanted to hear.  Standards like Daughter, Even Flow, Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town, Rearview Mirror, Do the Evolution and of course, Alive. Also – Off He Goes and Given to Fly, Save You and Life Wasted, Inside Job and Indifference! Wow!

Here’s Do the Evolution, and remember, this is during their second encore:

As we were clapping after their first encore and they had already played long and hard, Merri Ann asked me, in disbelief “They’re not going to play a second encore?”

As any die hard fan knows, “Of course they are!”

On the way back to the car she asked “How old are these guys?”  Well, they’re all at least a few years younger than me, but I think they’re all somewhere in their 40s now.  “They play a second encore every night?”, still in disbelief (and this from someone who swam, biked, ran a triathlon the day before).  : )

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Official Pearl Jam photo by Danny Clinch

They are incredible, and seem totally rejuvenated at this point.  I mean, they’ve always played so long and hard, but the leaping in air; Matt’s intensity at the drum kit; Stone’s headbanging with the mop top hair; Mike’s playing with crowd and his solos as always, incredible; Jeff with some funky moves and Eddie still sounding great, I think in spite of the cigarettes and massive quantity of wine he consumes on stage (which he does share with the crowd).

Only problem – I didn’t have enough money to see both shows!

Though maybe I shouldn’t be so greedy.  It’s just . . .they so rarely play Seattle!

Links:

Pearl Jam Goods Section: http://www.pearljam.com/goods

-for cds, t-shirts, the Ames Bros poster book, memberships (to get those good seats and a annual Christmas record single by about July) and. . . official bootlegs of all their concerts, on cd or as a download (I’m not sure how long it takes them to get them up there, but the Seattle shows will be coming).

Easy Street Records: http://easystreetonline.com/

-you can get the Pearl Jam Live at Easy Street cd here if you don’t live in Seattle.  If you do live in Seattle, come on down to either location for the cd, and check out their website for in store concerts and special events.

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