The moment I found out that my wife and I were going to be going to Wrigley Field for Pearl Jam, my mind started racing with so many thoughts. Where would we stay? Should we stay downtown? Fly? Bus? Drive? Parking? How long would we be gone? How long CAN we be gone? Etc etc etc. The thought that NEVER entered my mind was, how's the show going to be? #1, Pearl Jam shows are ALWAYS through the roof good. That's part of why I love this band so much. They never mail it in. #2, this band has taught me to not expect anything because you just never know what you're for. Just sit back and take the night song by song and enjoy the ride. Further, it would be super easy for me to kick back and say this is the greatest show I've ever seen, especially given all the intangibles and mystique swirling around this particular show. Eddie is from Chicago. He grew up a Cubs fan. Wrigley is my favorite ballpark and a national landmark/treasure. This was "An Evening With" not a normal show with openers etc. It was the fastest show ever to sell out at Wrigley. The circumstances surrounding this show were endless, building a momentum to this show where I don't think anyone would've blamed or doubted me if I did just write best show ever. I try to be realistic and as objective as possible. All that considered and given some time to reflect on the night that this passed Friday was.....it was the BEST Pearl Jam show I've ever seen. (My 11th time seeing them by the way). I saw them at Lollapalooza 92 on Harriet Island, which was special in it's own right, it essentially changed the course of my life. I saw them at the Forum in LA, where the Lakers play. I was at PJ20, the band's own weekend festival to celebrate 20 years as a band. However, all things considered, Wrigley was the best of the bunch. I still think Roger Waters' The Wall was the best show I've ever seen, but this was close. And here's why.....
So many variables went in to making this show so special. Like I said a bit ago, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder is a longtime, DIE hard Cubs fan and he's from Chicago. During the show he told the story of how he watched Cubs games as young as 5 and how his Grandmother taught him the game. On stage, he was clearly a very grateful for this opportunity, even giddy and ecstatic. It's really unreal how personal and sincere Eddie is on stage. This night was even more so, it felt like he was just talking to you. Wrigley is historic. The whole neighborhood where Wrigley stands is full of charm. The people are all so friendly (IE: "The Friendly Confines"). You feel the history and sweat equity exuding from the structure. Then there was the weather. Pearl Jam took the stage at 8:15. They were definitely waiting for the right time to take the stage. It was dusk, just a litlte daylight left when they jumped out. Shortly after 9pm they announced they could only play one more song before taking a break they expected to last about 30 minutes while a front passes through. 2 and a half hours later, they got back on stage around 11:45, assuring the crowd via Twitter during the lengthy rain delay that they still intended to put on a full set (Ed reminded us numerous times the band would play as long as they would be allowed). By the time it was all over, the weather added to the mystique of the show overall.
Now for the set list. Two of the songs I said I "wanted" to hear were played. "Come Back" and "Hold On". Two obscurities I just really wanted to see live. Come Back I've seen, but love. Hold On I've never seen. However, by the time it was all said and done....I barely remembered those were played. Hahaha. There were so many incredible moments. There was Eddie dawning his beloved Cubbies jersey and leading a sing a long of his Cubs theme song "Someday We'll Go All The Way". The guys played their new single "Mind Your Manners, which was expected. What was expected was the debut of 2 brand new songs from their forthcoming album, 'Lighting Bolt' which'll be out Oct. 15th. Mike McCready "bolted" through a "lightning" fast (see what I did there) version of Eddie Van Halen's "Eruption" that the crowd absolutely ate up. That was incredible. Then the highlight of the night, for my wife (this is the 4th time she seen the band now) came at song #21 of the set. There's a song she just adores. It's this 2 and a half minute dischordant accordion driven jam where Eddie sounds off about the media and people trying to pry themselves into his life. It's called "Bugs". Yes, it's as weird and awkward as it sounds. I've told Spencer time and time again that she's never going to hear this song. Well, you never say never my friends. For the 3rd time in the band's history came out from offstage with ye ole accordion strapped to his person and delivered a rousing version of the song that sent my tired out babe to the MOON. (See the performance here).
Then the magic came for me. We got a super rare performance of a Mother Love Bone song that Pearl Jam seems to only bring out for special occasions, called "Chloe Dancer/Crown Of Thorns". We got an hard to believe version of "Black" where the entire mass of people at Wrigley Field was singing in unison. As we did for the first song, "Release". I'm telling you, you haven't lived until you've heard every single soul in Wrigley Field singing in unison.......to a Pearl Jam deep track. Not a HIT.....a deep track. Goose bumps. My guess is there were 60,000 people there. Perhaps slightly less. I've never been to a show with that size of a crowd. To hear everyone singing in unison.....again.....wow.
The crown jewel of the night, for me, was Pearl Jam covering Pink Floyd's "Mother". Pearl Jam is my band. That's my absolute favorite.....all time. Pink Floyd, however, is Top 5 all time. SO, at THIS event. Pearl Jam. Wrigley Field. For them to bust out this rare cover.....well, it was a bit overwhelming. I'm not afraid to admit I teared up or was choked up a couple times over the course of this show and this was one of those times.
Time lapse video of live painting that went on all day at Wrigley Field. Love that this band turns their shows into complete experiences with little things like this.
Part of what made the Pearl Jam show at Wrigley so memorable and special was the debuting of new music. They played the new single "Mind Your Manners", which was expected, but they also debuted two new songs that hadn't been played before. This is one of them, a beautiful, sweet song called "Future Days"
Here are just a couple pics from our experience at Wrigley. Hopefully after checkin all this out, you realize I'm just feeding of an immediate reaction and saying "best ever". I've reflected and arrived at an honest to goodness conclusion. SO glad we went. Wow. Unreal.
The classic scoreboard at Wrigley. Complete with "Pearl Jam July 19th". So cool.
Me and my beautiful wifey poo, Spencer from "our spot"