Quicken Loans Arena – Cleveland, OH
Opener: My Morning Jacket
Pre-Set: Last Kiss (Ed solo), It Makes No Difference (Ed w/My Morning Jacket)
Main Set: Betterman, Given To Fly, Worldwide Suicide, Life Wasted, Severed Hand, Faithfull, Unemployable, Gone, Daughter/(It’s OK), MFC, Immortality, Lukin, Do The Evolution, Spin The Black Circle, Porch
Encore 1: Wasted Reprise, Thumbing My Way, Inside Job, Black/(We Belong Together), Alive
Encore 2: Go, Comatose, U, Don’t Gimme No Lip, Smile, Why Go, Fuckin’ Up, Yellow Ledbetter
I tend to get a little long-winded on these things and I’m running out of superlatives to describe the band’s performance, so I’m going to keep this oh-so-brief.
Upon arriving in Cleveland, the first thing you’re gonna notice downtown is the overabundance of these incredibly annoying, mosquito-like creatures that are affixed to windows on every building. I made the mistake of leaving my car window’s cracked overnight and woke up to find a hundred or so of the little buggers all over the interior of my car. They don’t put that in the chamber of commerce brochure for Cleveland, do they?
We had dinner before the show at a local bar and restaurant, Flannery’s (which featured aforementioned bugs on establishment’s windows) and ordered a burger. Much to my delight (I’m easily amused), the burger was topped with an avocado! Yahoo, what a coincidence! This could only bode well for the night to come.
I met a few people from a Pearl Jam message board I occasionally post on, and then it was on to Quicken Loans Arena for the show. It’s a cozy, little venue; it felt much smaller than HSBC Arena in Buffalo, but appeared to have the same number of seats.
I wasn’t in my seat for more than a few minutes when Ed came onstage to thunderous cheers from the half-full building (at that point), ready to do a preset. He did a solo version of Last Kiss during the preset, which is exactly where I prefer Last Kiss to be, if it has to be played at all. I’m a little tired of it, but that’s what happens when you’ve listened to every album, song and bootleg a thousand times each.
Opener My Morning Jacket came onstage after Ed finished, but Vedder stayed to do the first number with the band, It Makes No Difference. Nice, rocking number. MMJ continued to rock after Ed left, almost well enough to make me think about checking out their albums. Good stuff and I recommend you check them out at some point.
Pearl Jam came onstage to their typical roaring standing ovation, and proceeded to start with the rarely-used-as-opener Betterman. As always, the crowd did a lot of the singing. Nice, surprising start to the show. That was followed up by the standard 3-song set of new album tunes: World Wide Suicide, Life Wasted and Severed Hand. I expected a somewhat repetetive (from other nights) setlist at that point, but I was pleasantly surprised when they went into Faithfull, which made its debut on this tour. I’ll always dig stuff off of Yield, regardless of how much it’s played, but when you get a rare one like Faithfull, I’m extra happy.
A haunting rendition of Gone (off the new album) led into Daughter, which isn’t such a surprise. But when the band started into the It’s OK (by Dead Moon) tag, it became something special. The last time the full It’s OK tag was played was in Jones Beach in 2003, I believe, and it was a treat to hear it in person live. I felt like we were in for a special night by this point.
I appeared to be right when they played a tight but soft version of Immortality before launching into a blistering assault with Lukin, Do The Evolution, Spin The Black Circle and Porch to end the main set. The entire crowd was in a frenzy by the 10th minute of Porch.
The first encore was very laid back, highlighted by a soulful Black tagged by a brief “We Belong Together.” The band kicked it back into high gear with Alive to end the encore. The second encore kicked ass right off the bat with Go and not letting up through Comatose. The rarely-played U came next and then, guitarist Stone Gossard took the mic to sing lead vocals on his Don’t Gimme No Lip. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the lead vocal stylings of Stone Gossard. You can’t help but laugh (with him, of course).
Smile followed that up and yes, folks, I was smiling by that point. It’s a song that isn’t played nearly often enough live. A now-standard Why Go led into Neil Young’s Fuckin’ Up, which would have closed the set from there, but it looked like lead guitarist Mike McCready wanted to stick around for one more and eased into Yellow Ledbetter.
Well, I guess that wasn’t too brief, but I strove for conciseness (is that a word?). Couldn’t have asked for a much better setlist–lots of relatively rare stuff that debuted for the first time this tour. Another fantastic show that only feeds my obsession with the music. See you in Camden.
Two Feet Thick notes:
The band is playing Cleveland and Detroit consecutively, coinciding with the NBA Playoffs pitting the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the Detroit Pistons. “That last song is called ‘Unemployable’ which I’m sure the state of Ohio knows plenty about. It’s a beautiful place, but we’ll always make room for you in Seattle if you ever want to come out. Then you’ll be jobless and wet and depressed, but you’ll be out drinkin with us, so it’ll be alright.” Continuing, Ed introduces “Gone”, saying that “there’s a line in a song called ‘Dissident’ that says something about ‘escape is never the safest path’ or the easiest way, but this song kinda explores that idea, it’s called ‘Gone’.” “It’s OK” returns as a “Daughter” tag (at a slightly higher pitch than previous versions) with the entire band playing a slightly different arrangement. Ed modifies the lyrics somewhat, “This is my plea / this is my need / this is my time for standing free / this is my stand / in this world so demanding of me”. “Immortality” starts with a few bars of finger-picking guitar, similar to some previous versions. Ed gets a big roar from the crowd during “Do The Evolution” with the lyric change “Those ignorant Indians .. they’re a great team, right?” An adventurous 10-minute “new Porch” begins with an even slower-than-usual start by Ed before it kicks in with the second verse. Ed does band intros during the jam, including “on bass, and rooting for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mr. Jeff Ament” and “the engine with so many horsepower there’s no number, Matt Cameron on the drumkit”, “from the jungle to Cleveland, Mr. Boom Gasper on the B3”, and “sometimes you don’t pick your friends but he’s one of my best friends, Stone Gossard on guitar”. After the main set, Ed says that “it’s interesting, the place we go next is Detroit and we’re in no hurry…” which starts many chants including boos and eventually Ed picks up on an anti-Detroit chant, “I got it … I can’t repeat it because of the bootlegs and all, (Detroit will) get a hold of it. (long pause) I can say it once, ‘Pistons Suck'” to loud cheers. “Thumbing My Way” is played for the only time during the first leg of this tour. Starting the second encore, Ed wants to buy everyone a drink for being such a good crowd and beckons the arena staff to “open up the beer stands”. Ed modifies the “Comatose” lyrics “Blood on all the pistons / Fuck the Detroit Pistons! / Feel it rising (sorry!) / Yeah, next stop falling (sorry Detroit!) / Feel it rising / Comatose, with no fear of falling”. “U”, “Don’t Gimme No Lip” and “Smile” have the band “taking care of a couple of requests that (they’ve) been seeing” so far on Leg One. After “Fuckin’ Up”, Ed tells the crowd about a dream he had where the moon exploded and “crumbled and disappeared into nothing”, creating a world of chaos with the absence of the tides”. He continues that he thinks maybe the moon in his dream could be like “democracy”, and “it looks like it’s full right now, but if we don’t start paying attention … and looking at it thinking it’s beautiful, it’s just gonna disappear like this on us if we don’t participate, and you would know better here in Ohio – the deciding vote” (the vote tally in the state of Ohio decided the winner in the 2004 Presidential election).
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