Tweeter Performing Arts Center – Camden, NJ
opener: My Morning Jacket
Pre-set: Throw Your Arms Around Me (Ed solo), It Makes No Difference (Ed w/ My Morning Jacket)
Main Set: Wash, Go, Worldwide Suicide, Severed Hand, Corduroy, Save You, Given To Fly, Army Reserve, Grievance, Gone, Even Flow, You Are, Wishlist, Satan’s Bed, Garden, Whipping, Life Wasted, Rearviewmirror
Encore 1: Wasted Reprise, Man Of The Hour, Parachutes, Black/(So Lonely)/(We Belong Together), Crazy Mary, Alive
Encore 2: Last Exit, Do The Evolution, Glorified G, Comatose, Leash, Baba O’Riley, Yellow Ledbetter/(Star Spangled Banner)
Wow, where to begin. This show so far exceeded night one, quality-wise, that it does night two a disservice to even compare it. The Red Mosquito crew met up once again before the show, imbibing in the finest of ales as we all burned our faces off in the glaring, Philly sun. I had the good fortune to lodge in Cal Varnsen’s house the previous night. It was among the finest carpets I have ever had the pleasure to sleep on. Not only that, but he took us to Wendy’s the next day. I think we were all incredibly uncomfortable with Cal’s unnatural and disturbing love for Wendy’s food, but none of us dared say a word, lest we unleash his fury.
Some highlights from the pre-concert tailgate mainly all center around Dirty Frank, an orphan raised by drifters on the streets of Wilmington, Delaware. He greeted all of us with his trademark wit and fervor, calling all of us “motherf**kers” and “sons ‘a bitches.” It was all meant with love, though; a love magnified by his enormous vodka intake.
Some more Frank highlights:
- Frank relieves himself on a chainlink fence facing a street filled with concertgoers and a Mexican family selling hots dogs. The mexican orphans watched in wonderment/horror while the mother did her best to shield their innocent eyes, with nothing but contempt showing on her grim visage.
- Frank tried to work his game on three young ladies in the line for the port-a-john. Whether he had success or not is difficult to say, but he didn’t get slapped in the face, so let’s count that as a victory for ol’ Frank.
- Frank made repeated references to the party that would take place later that night in Frank’s (the other Frank) hotel room. Frank would supply the prostitutes, of course.
No one’s sure if Frank actually made it to the concert, as he may have been kidnapped by that Mexican family and taken to the border to have his kidneys harvested.
Anyway, after meeting up with Frank and a host of other great Red Mosquito folks, we finally make our way into the Tweeter Center, and make a beeline for the merchandise stand in an effort to snag the much sought-after show poster, which will immediately quadruple in value after it sells out (of course, I take mine home and spend forty bucks to get it framed). Standing in a packed-together-like-sardines line of sweaty Pearl Jam fans waiting to buy a 10-cent piece of paper for 25 bucks is an experience like no other.
I did manage to get a poster, and was content in the fact that I’d once again emptied my wallet (but not before a beer and a hot pretzel….mmmm…salt…). We made our way into the ampitheater and started walking down the aisle toward the stage to get to our seats…and kept walking…and kept walking…7 rows back from the front of the stage, almost dead center, in front of Stone Gossard’s customary spot onstage. Needless to say, between the hot pretzel and my seat location, I was stoked. Yeah, “stoked.”
We settled in and were treated to another pre-set performance by Ed, singing the Hunters and Collectors’ “Throw Your Arms Around Me.” Great song to get everyone in the mood before My Morning Jacket took the stage to open. Ed sang the first song with them, and MMJ put on another great set–so great it almost makes me want to buy their albums and grow a long beard. (MMJ pic) Almost.
At some point after My Morning Jacket’s set, I navigated my way up to the back of the ampitheater seats and to the sound/light board in the center. I snagged a view of the setlist and was pleasantly surprised.
After last night’s somewhat–I say, somewhat–disappointing setlist, I was hoping for something special. Pearl Jam starting off with “Wash” was a good sign.
- Finally got to hear Army Reserve, one of my favorites off the new album–so the only track I’ve not seen live yet is Big Wave. Reserve was beautifully played. One of many high points on the night.
- At one point during the end of the main set, Ed started having mic stand issues and had seven consecutive aneurysms. His first mic stand broke, and it must’ve been giving him fits all night long, because he then threw it at one of the sound technicians stage left. Someone in the crowd then nailed him in the face with a shirt, to which he reacted quite favorably, and proceeded to whip the shirt right back into the crowd.
- Clearly wanting to get the main set over and done with, Ed tried to launch into Whipping before bassist Jeff Ament was ready, and Ed threw a pick at him and yelled, “come on!” to get them all going. That was a good song to have a pissed-off Ed for; and that anger carried nicely into a raging version of Life Wasted.
- Finally nearing the end of the main set with Rearviewmirror, Ed reaches the last of his vocals and slams his guitar down into the mic stand and storms offstage. The rest of the band, bemused, finishes playing the last, psychedelic phase of the song and exits the stage. A nice, little sequence of events there.
The band sits down for acoustic set to start the first encore, playing a “lovely” (as Cal would say) Parachutes for only the 2nd time this tour. A haunting “We Belong Together” tag on Black, with Ed’s appropriately ragged voice rasping out the lyrics, had the entire crowd moved. Look no further for an example of the kind of power music can have.
The rest of the show’s highlights:
- The second encore, much like the first night’s, was a rager starting with the not-played-oft-enough Last Exit.
- Glorified G was dedicated to Dick Cheney, Ed pantomines firing a mock shotgun in tribute throughout the song.
- Leash was played again, with the entire crowd singing the lyrics at the absolute top of their lungs, somehow topping the previous night’s sing-a-long.
- The Star Spangled Banner tag on live mainstay Yellow Ledbetter was much more developed tonight–more, dare I say, “Hendrix-like.” The crowd sang the the “land of the free and home of the brave” lyrics at the end of the tag, giving me goosebumps as the show came to a close.
We departed the venue and into the crisp, night air on such a high we nearly forgot that we were in the middle of Camden, NJ–murder capital of the universe. We made a quick getaway across the bridge, leaving another fantastic Pearl Jam show in our wake.
Lots of shifts in tense during this review; I hope I didn’t confuse anyone with my temporal flexibility. What? As for Pearl Jam, another fantastic tour, but I can only hope they come back to the States next year to play in Buffalo, site of one of the finest PJ shows ever in 2003. Until then, I will continue to write long-winded essays on the state of the world and my place in it.
Two Feet Thick notes:
Ed performs a preset of “Throw Your Arms Around Me” and stays on for a cover of The Band’s “It Makes No Difference”. Ed addressed the crowd right after “Wash”, saying “I bet you came over after church” which had the entire venue laughing and that “on the seventh day, God said ‘You shall rock your asses off until the cows come home'”. Ed is bothered by mic and mic-stand problems throughout the first set, breaking at least two. Ed dedicated “Army Reserve” to the men and women risking their lives and following orders. During “Rearviewmirror”, Ed is visibly annoyed at a photographer (or fan?) in the pit and aggressively throws a towel at him. Picking up a guitar to join the jam, he then breaks a string and throws his guitar down hard, leaving the stage. The band starts the first encore on the “lighter” side with “Wasted Reprise”, “Man of the Hour” and “Parachutes”. Mike had a line of new baseballs behind him on his equipment and Ed called attention to the fact that he was playing with “a lot of balls”. Mike went back and counted them – 5 balls – and Ed said that he had one of his removed to be able to hit the high notes. After over ten years of absence, “Leash” is played for the third show in a row. “Yellow Ledbetter” closes with Mike playing the “Star-Spangled Banner”.