How do you build on a masterpiece? Ask Pearl Jam. On Sunday night at Fenway Park, they did just that. Within the first 3 songs, they had already gained the momentum, confidence, intimacy, and power they had built over a full-show Friday. For those of us fortunate enough to attend Friday's show (review here,) it felt like a stronger continuation of that gem. For those who attended only Sunday, it proved to another 30,000+ that these guys are THE touring band on the road now. The playing is both frenzied and patient. Loose but always dialed-in. Heavy and quiet. And. So. Much. Passion.
How do I pick the better of the 2? That's like having to pick my favorite child (depends on the day) or my favorite Pearl Jam song (OK, it's "Garden.")
But here are some observations and comparisons. This is not a competition. As always, no wagering.
Sunday was longer (over 3 hours) had more songs in the set (34 Sunday, 28 Friday) Set list here:
FENWAY NIGHT 2. NO WORDS. #PJFenwaypic.twitter.com/7YoktfSG8t
Sunday had WAY more Eddie stories and chatter. After the opener 'Pendulum,' he was already talking about seeing Friday's "incident report" featuring lots of "alcohol related ejections." Telling everyone it's perfectly expected to have a few beers at Fenway, he suggested pacing over the long night. And to watch out for "alcohol related erections...Which won't last."
Friday had Bronson Arroyo playing guitar on "Black." Sunday had Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith playing bass on 'Draw The Line' and J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. on 'Rockin' In The Free World.' Um, no offense, but advantage Sunday.
During 'Rockin' In The Free World,' Mike McCready and Jeff Ament switched between percussion, bass, and guitar. Huge grins. Talk about having fun.
As they have earlier in the year, they did not play a full album, but 5 songs from "Vitalogy" showed up, including an 'Immortality' that was nearly sub-human.
So much baseball talk by Eddie! (a good thing) Some (but not all) highlights:
- Referencing the upcoming Sox/Yankee series at Fenway, expressing his non-Yankee fan status. "We want to leave some energy here so the Sox can kick the Yankees asses." "No more A-Rod! Jeter? I like him. Not A-Rod."
- Amazed that the grounds crew had removed the field flooring to sun the grass on the off-day Saturday.
- His experience at the Tigers/Sox playoff game in October 2013: When Big Papi hit the come-from-behind grand slam, sending Tori Hunter over the fence and into the bullpen, the ovation was deafening. Eddie's friend Ryan Dempster was in the bullpen at the time, came over to Hunter and said: "Hey, man, you ok?" After Hunter replied 'yes' Bonderman said "How about that Grand Slam?"
- Introducing rarity 'Footsteps' as "one for you Carl Yastrzemski-types," and 'Angel' as one "for the serious collector." (Only back this year after a hiatus since 1992: Set-list geekery courtesy of my Brother-In-Law John)
- Kevin Youkilis' Pearl Jam on-stage appearance streak is now at 2 shows. This time he gave Eddie a number 20 Sox jersey with "Youk" on the back. Eddie wore it for a while, draped it over his monitor, then wore it again. See? Cubs fans are classy.
- Before 'Better Man' talking about how some players "own" the field when they're on it. "Like it's their field. So hi to Dustin Pedroia for me."
- Not baseball related, but you gotta love Jeff Ament (whose incredible bass playing should not and will not go unmentioned) wore a Celtics jersey.
The last 2 songs featured Eddie throwing tambourines into the crowd, then switching to a baseball glove and playing catch with people in the crowd.
And then it was over. 2 nights. Over 6 hours. 28 songs Friday, 34 Sunday. And only 6 repeated. Send up a flare when YOUR favorite band comes to town and plays 56 songs. And totally nails every one of them.
If I was scoring this show (as Eddie told us he does at baseball games,) it would read Pearl Jam: 1. Every other band: 0.
Ken West is the Program Director of ALT 92.9. He has found that wearing a Hartford Whalers shirt to concerts entices random people to high-five him.