Pearl Jam – NYC II 7.9.03 Review

Madison Square Garden – New York City, NY
Opening Band: Sleater-Kinney
Attendance: 20,000+

Main Set: Crazy Mary, Save You, Hail Hail, Whipping, Corduroy, Red Mosquito, Dissident, I Am Mine, Get Right, Given To Fly, Evacuation, Even Flow, I Believe In Miracles, Untitled/MFC, Deep, Present Tense, Nothingman, State Of Love And Trust, Porch

Encore 1: You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, Elderly Woman, Glorified G, All Or None, Do The Evolution, Alive

Encore 2: Go, Know Your Rights, Rockin’ In The Free World, Yellow Ledbetter

After a spectacular, defining first night in New York, I couldn’t possibly think it would be topped. Turns out I was right, but it was still the second best show of the tour thus far (regardless of whether I attended the shows or not).

I was joined for this night by two friends of mine, one who’d been working in New York for a web design firm, the other who came in via train from Dartmouth University. The former gave me the bonus of staying with him at his aunt and uncle’s stately 5th Avenue digs, including a friendly doorman I like to call “Hank.”

I think most of the people in the Garden for night two had also been there the previous night (most of the fan club members anyway), and I think both the band and crowd were a little worn out at the start of the show. The three of us met up before the show and shot the shiznit for a little bit, getting some eats et al, before heading into Madison Square Garden. We missed the opening band, Sleater-Kinney, but that didn’t really matter once PJ took the stage and launched into a fantastic Crazy Mary, highlighted by Mike McCready on guitar and Boom Gaspar on keyboards, trading blows with each other during their solos.

The band then blew through Save You, Hail Hail, Whipping, Corduroy, Red Mosquito, Dissident, I Am Mine, Get Right, Given To Fly, Evacuation, Even Flow, I Believe in Miracles, MFC and Deep before taking a breath with Present Tense. He briefly spoke to the crowd after Whipping, referencing how crazy/great last night’s show was. The band was incredibly tight tonight, nailing every song. The great main set was capped by an extended Porch, with Ed nearly climbing the lighting rig, reminiscent of their early 90’s shows.

A relatively low-key 1st encore was highlighted by a fantastic version of the rarely-played All Or None. That mood was immediately swatted away with Do the Evolution. As crazy as the building was at that point, it wasn’t quite what it was the night before, but how could it?

2003 was clearly the year of “Alive,” with the every single person in the crowd pumping their fists in time with a delirious “HEY” chant at the end of the song. This has become a staple of this year’s tour, but I don’t think it’s every been as resounding a rendition as this night’s, one possible exception being Montreal.

The final encore had a passionate version of The Clash’s Know Your Rights, working the crowd into a frenzy that peaked with Rockin’ in the Free World, the entire arena going nuts with the house lights on. Yellow Ledbetter closed the show out, the crowd singing along in delight as another show for the ages came to a close. It didn’t top the previous night’s show, but it without question belongs in the same company.


Two Feet Thick notes:

Unusual rip roaring ‘Crazy Mary’ starts off the set to a packed house at MSG for the second night in a row. Strong Ed voice on ‘Hail Hail.’ He addresses the crowd after a great version of ‘Whipping,’ telling them how special the previous night was for the band but that they “… have their work cut out for them because you guys always wanna make it better than the last.” This spins into a strong ‘Corduroy,’ with the crowd loving it. ‘I Am Mine’ lyrics are changes to, “The in between is yours … you are yours.” Ed phones Johnny Ramone before ‘I Believe in Miracles’ but gets his answering machine. “Hey, Johnny. You fucker. Why aren’t you home?” Then during ‘Untitled,’ “Johnny, I hope you get the message, or you’re not home. I’ll see you in a month or so …” An absolutely beautiful ‘Present Tense.’ Ed gives props to Matt and mentions that the fourth Wellwater Conspiracy album is finished and should be released soon. He says he’s glad because it means Matt will be available to record with PJ. ‘Nothingman’ is a great, huge singalong. Tight ‘Porch’ with a sweet bridge. Upon returning for the first encore, Ed starts reading signs in the crowd. “Garden, yes we’re in the garden. That’s good … This one says ‘play Leash you pussies’. You know, there’s fucking children here, you know. You fucking cocksucking motherfucker asshole prick!” He mentions the fan club support and that last night there were 7,000 and tonight there are 8,000 fan club tickets represented. He thanks the fans and mentions hearing how fans have met via shows and become friends or lovers. He jokes how a couple (“I think they’re from Jersey”) met, married and is trying to have five kids to name them after the band. “So far they have Jeff, Stone and Mike and they’re fucking right now trying to get a little Eddie. And if they get to Boom … we’re just gonna keep adding band members. We’ll have a horn section … that’s evolution, baby.” Ed starts to introduce ‘All or None’ but Mike goes into the first riff of “Glorified G” and they play that first. A heartfelt ‘All Or None’ leads to an incredible ‘Alive.’ As soon as Mike hits the solo, the entire arena begins the fist pump, simultaneously yelling “yeah” for the duration of the song. Ed scans the entire Garden in awe. Mike smashes his Gibson flying V at the end of ‘Go.’ A searing ‘Know Your Rights’ (played for Joe Strummer) encompasses the energy they had from the first note and leads gracefully into ‘RITFW,’ which blows the place up. Ed references phoning Johnny and leaving a message yet again in ‘YL’ (“I tried and I phoned and we only left a message; he wasn’t there.”) Mike intertwines a few of the unmistakable Hendrix doing the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ at Woodstock guitar wailings in ‘YL’ to close.

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