Artist – Pearl Jam
Venue – Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco CA, 7-16-06
The auditorium went black, the floor suddenly swelled, and the crowd went nuts. Expecting to see Sonic Youth take the stage, we were given a small surprise. Eddie Vedder casually walked on stage, sat down with an acoustic guitar, and played the one song I hoped to hear but never actually expected to; “Drifting”. As the song ended, he politely introduced Sonic Youth, and walked off stage. Now, granted he did forget the words to a line in that song, but as Vedder would explain later in the show, there was a good reason for it, and he handled it with humor so it’s not like it ruined the show.
Sonic Youth played a good, but short set. This allowed Pearl Jam to play a much longer set as well as do two encores, which is exactly what they did. Musically and sonically, Pearl Jam are at the top of their game. They have perfected their show to the point where I listen to their live bootlegs more often than I do their studio albums, and I love their studio albums. PJ managed to split the set list up pretty evenly, playing 5-6 new tracks, a handful of classics and a few lesser known but equally great tracks. They also managed to do a cover of Neil Young’s “Fuckin’ Up”, which Vedder eloquently dedicated to Bush and Cheney (Is he still shooting people in the face?).
PJ also managed to play a cover of The Avengers tune “American Me” complete with Penelope Houston on vocals, which was pretty cool. Of the lesser known tracks, a few of them I don’t believe have been played very much live, such as “Blood” and “Leash” which hasn’t been played until this year since 1994. It’s nice that the band is bringing these old tunes out of the closet, and I think all of this adds to the Pearl Jam experience that sets them apart from other live acts. Hell, even the opening song “Big Wave” has only been played live 6 times.
PJ ended the show as they normally do, with the lights on and the crowd singing only the words they are sure they know to “Yellow Ledbetter”. Every time this song is played, the lyrics are never exactly the same, so the crowd just has to go with it by ear, but it’s still one of their best tunes and is a great way to end the show. There are always songs you wish the band had played, so I am not going to let that affect my opinion of the show. It was a great show, the best I have seen in a long time, and if you get the chance to see them I suggest that you take it. Bands are rarely this good live.
9 out of 10