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    The Computer Audiophile

    A Pearl Jam Weekend For The Ages



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    I've seen Pearl Jam perform at Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Alpine Valley, and Madison Square Garden among other iconic venues. This weekend I saw two shows at Xcel Energy Center right here in St. Paul, MN, and I'm incredibly happy to say they were the best shows I've ever seen. All the stars aligned for these two nights, where Eddie and the entire band sounded fantastic, and I loved every song they played. 


    1.jpgThe band opened the first show with the track Indifference. I remember after purchasing the album Vs on October 19, 1993 at midnight, my friends and I listened to Indifference in the car on the way home and offered each other our 16 year old's view of the song's origins. As incorrect and inexperienced as we were, I still remember the drive home, unlearned reasoning, and the ensuing hours of listening to the album, before getting a little sleep and going to high school the next day. 


    This was back when albums were released on Tuesdays as opposed to Fridays, and we all were able to talk about the albums at school the next day. Texts, phones, social media? Get outta here. We talked about them face to face and saw each other describe a vocal performance with out hands or air guitar a crazy solo. It was a much better time. 


    Back in the day I much preferred a band play its songs live as close as possible to the recorded versions. Now, I like to hear something different. The version of Indifference played during night one in St. Paul was bluesy, a bit more mellow, and was a great way to ease us into one hell of a night.


    Another track during the opening handful of songs that were played while sitting down, with low lighting, was Black. This was my favorite Pearl Jam song from August 27, 1991 (release date) until a couple years ago. Nonetheless, it's a powerful track for me to hear. To hear it with my best friend Mike, who purchased the album Ten in 1991 with me, standing elbow to elbow next to me, was even more powerful. As soon as the band started playing it, we looked at each other and said, "NO WAY!" 


    My eleven year old daughter, a newer fan of Black, was sitting on the other side of me. Toward the end we were both singing, with the entire crowd, Doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo, Doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo, Doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo... It was a moment I could've never imagined as Mike and I listened to Black in his tiny bedroom in 1991. It was absolutely priceless. 


    After Black, Pearl Jam launched into my favorite track, Given to Fly. It was like the musical gods were reading my mind and knew what I "had" to hear. If lyrics and delivery like this (below) don't get someone excited, a doctor may be needed to check his/her pulse.


    Immediately after Given to Fly I texted a friend, "Given to Fly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Amazing!!!!"

    A wave came crashing like a fist to the jaw
    Delivered him wings, "Hey, look at me now"
    Arms wide open with the sea as his floor
    Oh, power, oh




    Note: This isn't from the St. Paul concerts. I was way to into the moment to shoot a video. Copyright Pearl Jam.



    A handful of songs later the band played my daughter's favorite Pearl Jam song, Dance of the Clairvoyants. I told her before the show that it would be played. Unsure really, but given the fact that the band hadn't performed any songs from Gigaton in MN yet, I knew there was a good chance she'd get to see it performed live. As Matt Cameron's drums started, I wiped my brow in relief and gave my daughter the "told you so" glance, while watching the smile on her face nearly reach her earlobes. I thought to myself, how could this show get any better.


    Making the show more than a collection of great songs played live, was both the personal interaction between Eddie Vedder and the crowd, and the entire band's enthusiasm for playing live. I've seen shows where other artists phone it in, and I've walked away very disappointed. This show was the absolute opposite. Eddie told stories, talked about MN, and the entire band left nothing in the gas tank. By the end of it, we were all exhausted, just like the band, and we all felt special just to have witnessed it. 


    2.jpgThe second night in St. Paul was equally energetic, musically marvelous, and satisfying. An incredibly memorable trio of tracks was Do the Evolution, Last Exit, and Once, Evolution and Last Exit are heavy tunes that I imagine can't be easy on the vocal cords. Seeing them played back to back, with the band firing on all cylinders and the crowd jumping up and down, I think I would've needed a cigarette if I was a smoker. Pure energy going between the crowd and the band. 


    As soon as Pearl Jam continued with the track titled Once, I immediately pulled out my phone to take a video for my daughter who was home with grandma for the second show. She has been singing Once around the house for the last couple weeks and I knew she'd appreciate a short clip from Eddie singing "Once upon a time I could control myself. Once upon a time I could lose myself." And, she did appreciate it, with a short text reply using Grandma's phone, repeating the lyrics. A priceless moment shared, even though we weren't together. 


    Just before the encore, the band played Porch, from its debut album Ten. I've seen Porch played live a number of times, but this one was extra special. During the song Eddie jumped up on a speaker very close to our seats as he sang the chorus. I pulled out my phone as quick as I could and started recording. I try to live in the moment but this one was so good I needed the ability to re-live it with friends and this community. I captured thirty seconds, then put my phone away to enjoy the rest of the song live. I've probably watched this twenty times since the show on Saturday. I can feel Eddie's energy every time I watch it, and seeing Mike McCready in the background jumping and giving it his all, is just amazing. 






    One of my favorite songs to see performed live is Better Man. In 1998 I saw Pearl Jam perform Better Man at Target Center in Minneapolis, and I'll never forget it. Eddie started to sing, handed off to the audience, and we all sang the wrong lyrics. "That's good but see that's the second verse." Said Eddie as he stopped the song (link to actual video in 1998).


    Twenty five years later and across the Mississippi River in St. Paul, 18,000- fans didn't miss a single word. Yes I love Vedder's voice, but hearing everyone sing the words to a favorite song is a superb shared experience. The experience has to be equally memorable for Eddie Vedder. Seeing the adoration is one thing, but the fact that this is a song he wrote in high school and wondered if anyone would ever hear it, has to be mind bending. 


    Here's my short clip from night two in St. Paul. I'm just glad my voice can't be heard belting out the lyrics. Such a fun song to see and sing live. 







    The two night stand in St. Paul closed out with cover of Purple Rain. It was only fitting to play a Prince song, especially after talking a bit about First Avenue and the 7th Street Entry during the show. Purple Rain live turned into a big love fest between the crowd and the band, just as it did at Madison Square Garden when I saw them in September of 2022, with Eddie throwing tambourines to audience members and everyone getting into a long drawn out version of the song. This time members of the opening band Deep Sea Diver joined as backing vocalists, as did Josh Klinghoffer.  One can't go wrong with Pearl Jam and Purple Rain to end a most memorable Labor Day weekend in Minnesota. 









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    19 minutes ago, JoeWhip said:

    Great you had a blast. The joys of great musical performances.

    There's nothing like it.

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    39 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

    Did you get to try Wrestaurant?

    Didn't make it there. Ate at Mancini's the first night then Brasa on Grand Ave the second night. 

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    3 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    Didn't make it there. Ate at Mancini's the first night then Brasa on Grand Ave the second night. 


    Both solid choices!

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    Hi Chris

    Great to read from you and feel your fascination and happiness.

    Good and important to have such moments / experience in live.

    All the best

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