Tweeter Performing Arts Center – Camden, NJ
opener: My Morning Jacket
Pre-set: Gone (Ed solo)
Main Set: Wasted Reprise, Life Wasted, World Wide Suicide, Do The Evolution, Animal, Severed Hand, Corduroy, Marker In The Sand, Given To Fly, Unemployable, Lukin/Not For You/(Modern Girl), Daughter/(WMA), I Am Mine, Jeremy, Present Tense, Why Go, Porch
Encore 1: Better Man, Come Back, Elderly Woman, Last Kiss (with members of Innocence Project), Alive
Encore 2: State Of Love And Trust, Blood, Even Flow, Comatose, Leash, Rockin’ In The Free World, Yellow Ledbetter/(Star Spangled Banner)
I don’t have a ton to say about the first show in Camden, as it seemed to feel more like a greatest hits night than anything “special.” It’s gotten to the point where I’ve seen so many shows that the setlist really needs to knock me out every night, or I deem it an “okay” show. But you’ve gotta put it in perspective as well–an “okay” show for Pearl Jam is a hundred times better than any other live act at their peak performance. The crowd was a bit too laid back for my tastes as well–they never matched the band’s energy, of which there was a lot.
I’ll stick to the highlights:
- Ed spoke at length about the Innocence Project, which aids in using DNA testing to exonerate wrongly-convicted inmates and get them out of jail. Ed brought three such individuals from the Philadelphia area up onstage to join the band for Last Kiss. Two of the three were musicians and handled drum and vocal duties. The third guy was relegated to tambourine man. Very cool moment–what normally is a low point of any set (Last Kiss) turned into something pretty neat.
- Other than the Last Kiss moment, there was nothing that remarkable about the first encore. Pretty typical, low-key numbers before closing with the standard Alive.
- The second encore is where the show hit its brief stride. The band went on a tear with State Of Love And Trust, Blood, Even Flow, and Comatose, sending the diehards in the crowd into a state of “rock coma.” But then–THEN–the crowd smart enough to know what they were seeing went nuts when the band launched into Leash, which debuted last week in Boston for the first time since 1995. The band was tight and it sounded as if they’d spent plenty of time on the song to make sure it was right. But the best facet of the performance was the crowd: we were screaming the lyrics with Ed, drowning him out for most of the song. Very powerful stuff.
Other than that, not a lot to report from night one. The seats I were in weren’t that great, despite being pretty close to the stage. I had a light shining directly into our section for most of the night, resulting in near-blindness. You’ll be able to see said light in a lot of the pictures I took on night one.
I also met a ton of badass people from a PJ message board I post on (yes, I used “badass” and “message board” in the same sentence) during the tailgate before the show. In addition to a massive sunburn, I had a blast talking and drinking with them. Good times.
Two Feet Thick notes:
Being the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend in the U.S.A., Ed mentions that it’s a great way to start the summer, and during “”Even Flow” sings that the “summer’s on its way”. This venue is in Camden, NJ, and Philadelphia is right across the river, thus why it is often considered a “Philadelphia” stop on the tour. With a big smile on his face, Ed references that saying “Where the hell are we anyways? Jersey? Philly?” and mentions that he should know better considering that they’ve played there before. The “Modern Girl” tag to “Not For You” returns, with Mike wearing a Sleater-Kinney t-shirt. “Present Tense” draws a big roar and the crowd sings the second verse. Before “Last Kiss”, the band seems to get comfortable and Matt puts on a Fender Telecaster hinting at something “special”. Ed tells the crowd that they are indeed doing something special tonight and tells of how their charitable proceeds from ticket sales tonight are going towards the Innocence Project, a non-profit legal clinic that works to free the wrongfully convicted through DNA testing. Ed introduces one-by-one three men who had a total of 45 years in prison before they were freed by the works of the Innocence Project. He tells the stories of Thomas “Tommy” Doswell, Vincent Moto, and Wilton Dedge, including how they each served more than a decade before they were freed. Vincent Moto then jumps up on the drums, and Tommy Doswell lays down a large lyric sheet and everyone together performs “Last Kiss”, with Ed and Tommy trading off verses. Vincent and Tommy are bursting with Joy and make Ed blush by starting a “Pearl Jam” chant. Wilton, Vincent and Tommy come back out for an extended “Rockin’ in the Free World”. As they are walking off, Wilton – visibly the shiest on stage – steps up to Stone’s mic, and poignantly implores the crowd that “you don’t have to be a rocker to make a difference in the world”.