25 years of Pearl Jam live

I was a fan of Pearl Jam right off the bat, but didn’t see them for the first time until April 1994 at the Patriot Center. It was very intense, I recounted it at the time here (and follow up here).

After such an amazing experience, I was determined to recapture the magic. They announced they were playing two nights of benefit shows for Voters for Choice at Constitution Hall in January of 1995, and the only way to get tickets was with a postcard lottery. At this point I was working at a record store I co-owned, and we would print and mail brightly colored postcards to our mailing list so I made 20 and sent them in. I got chosen for the first show and took my sister.

It was an amazing show. L7 and Neil Young opened, but the audience was clearly there for Pearl Jam. And they were rewarded for their patience with an epic show featuring plenty of songs from Vitalogy (still my favorite album of theirs). New drummer Jack Irons took on his first full length show without a problem and Neil Young joined them during the encore for Neil’s new song “Act Of Love”.

I then saw Jeff Ament’s band Three Fish in July 1996 at the 9:30 Club. There were rumors of special appearances by other PJ members, but nothing came of that. Then I saw Pearl Jam again at Merriweather Post Pavilion in September 1996. I still enjoyed the show (got my first “Yellow Ledbetter”) but the new album No Code left me a bit cold after the run on the first three albums and my fandom died down a bit.

Still, I was happy to see them again at the Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1998. I was happy to go both days, especially after the first day was cut short due to an audience member getting struck by lightening, but they put on a great show to supposedly end the day. I left as they finished, so I missed them setting down their instruments so that the Red Hot Chili Peppers could play a short set (didn’t see them until the next year).

I didn’t see them again after that until they played the MCI Center in 2004 on the Vote For Change tour. They played a short set that night with Tim Robbins joining them on “The New World”, my favorite was “Masters Of War” which I’d loved their version of since Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready played it at the The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration. Eddie also joined R.E.M. that night for “Begin The Begin” and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band for “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, & Understanding” and “People Have The Power”. Full color coverage here.

I next saw Eddie Vedder when he did a solo set at Radio City Music Hall for the Change Begins Within benefit. He did a killer cover of “Under Pressure” with Ben Harper & Relentless7, which would have been the highlight of the night if there hadn’t been two members of The Beatles performing together (he joined Ringo Starr for his set and the last two songs of Paul McCartney’s set with Ringo and everyone else). More here.

Next my wife saw Pearl Jam for the first time when we attended the Austin City Limits Festival and they closed out the final night with guests Ben Harper and Perry Farrell. Too bad we left on the early side after squelching through mud all day. More details on the festival here.

The next time we saw Pearl Jam was by luck. I won an auction for Saturday Night Live tickets for March 2010, and that night turned out to be host Jude Law with musical guest Pearl Jam. They were great, and even turned up in a sketch. Many more details here.

No PJ proper for a long while after that, but I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in April 2013 to see Rush get inducted. An amazing night for me as a huge Rush fan, but one of the surprises was Mike McCready guesting on “Barracuda” with Heart. Full story here.

My most recent Pearl Jam show was really incredible, to see them inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2017. Ok, I was primarily there for Geddy and Alex from Rush, but I got to see the rehearsal and the show and they were fantastic. Complete wrap up here.