September 13th, 1998: My first Pearl Jam show, Hartford, Connecticut, The Meadows Music Center
opener: Ben Harper
setlist: Corduroy, Animal, Hail Hail, Given to Fly, I Got Shit, Go, Dissident, Tremor Christ, Daughter, Jeremy, Even Flow, Faithfull, MFC, Spin the Black Circle, Wishlist, Do the Evolution
encore: Brain of J, Breath, RVM, Better Man, Alive, Porch
My Take: I had a hard time finding a place to park at this show. I moved my car three times, each lot being sucessively closer to the venue. Finally I found a good spot only about a quarter mile from The Meadows. Waiting for a friend outside the gates, the crowd seemed rather mellow. It was a respectful crowd for Ben Harper, many people cheering and clapping when he was done with a song. I have to say that he is quite the musician, a modern Jimi Hendix if that term hasn't already been over used to describe him. Unfortunately a bunch of drunk people were standing near me on the lawn and decided to chant "EDDIE!" periodically throughout the show. Then the typical drum intro starts playing. The house lights dim. Pearl Jam takes the stage. They open with Corduroy to loud screams and applause. Eddie is wearing a black afro wig which he takes off before Animal. I can barely see the stage, but thanks to the TV monitors I still have a good view. Every song is amazing, but the most memorable part of the night to me is the beginning of the encore. The band comes back out and Eddie says, "You guys are from New York aren't you? (referencing the people in front holding up "Thank You" signs, because they had played Breath in New York) I thought we got rid of all you motherfuckers. You're all in the front. That means everyone from New York got all the good seats and everyone from Connecticut is in the back." Then after Brain of J, "Ok. This next one we haven't played for a long time, until the other night. It sounded pretty good, so here goes." BREATH!! They play Breath!!! I still can't believe it. This is the song that I had wanted to hear them play live since the beginning of the tour. This is the song that everyone told me they wouldn't play. This is the song that I knew they would play. And they play it. Fucking incredible, is all I can say. They end the show early due to people getting hurt up in front. I wait around for a while hoping they do an encore. I sit on the lawn and play my bootleg of the show back to myself to see how well it came out. Random fans come up to me and tell me that it's money in the bank. Security tells us it's time to go. Show one is over. A live Pearl Jam virgin am I no longer.
September 15th, 1998: My second Pearl Jam show, Mansfield, Massachusetts, Great Woods
opener: Ben Harper
setlist: Sometimes, Corduroy, Hail Hail, Animal, Given to Fly, Daughter, Immortality, Rearviewmirror, (Crazy Mary), Wishlist, Jeremy, Even Flow, Nothingman, Brain of J, In Hiding, Alive
First encore: Elderly Woman, Not for You, Last Exit, Do the Evolution, Black, Fuckin' Up
Second encore: Yellow Ledbetter
My Take: Ok. The Hartford show was incredible. I'd never experienced anything like it in my life, but this show. This show surpassed it tenfold. The feeling was there. The crowd was there. The music was there. It all came together for an amazing evening. Maybe it was that I was closer this time(I actually had a seat as opposed to a lawn ticket. I arrive late to the show. The crowd outside is pumped. Primal screaming occurs every so often. The energy is incredible. Then I go inside. Ben Harper is playing his last two songs by the time I reach my seat. The intermission between Ben and Pearl Jam is a little longer than at Hartford. Finally the drum beat starts up. It plays for a long time before Pearl Jam takes the stage. This time they open with Sometimes. Again, every song is incredible. The one song that sticks out above all the others in my mind is Immortality. By the time they reach Mike's solo, I'm on cloud nine. Mike's on fire. Then the lighting effects. On the last part of the solo the whole band is strobed with Mike in a spotlight. The effect is....words can't describe it. They do the same effect at the end when Matt is doing his drum solo. Speechless. I still can't think of the best way to describe this to anyone who wasn't there, who didn't see it for themselves. Incredible.
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