Pearl Jam in San Diego

Photo by Karen Loria

What a great Pearl Jam show last Friday night!!! They played a selection of everything from greatest hits, to lesser known gems and rarities, to cover songs, to almost half the songs from their latest album ‘Backspacer.’ And best of all, no politics rants! They really made a point in the previous albums/tours to talk about how that fucking George W. Bush was the worst president, but I’m glad he is out of office, because Pearl Jam can have fun now.

The first surprise of the night was definitely when Eddie Vedder joined opening act Ben Harper and Relentless7 for a cover of Queen’s “Under Pressure.” It was amazing! Right after the song, Ben Harper said, “That’ll teach them for coming late to the show.” I totally agree. I’m so sorry for everyone who was outside the venue when this unique moment happened.

The next surprise was that as soon as Pearl Jam took the stage, they started rocking hard. I had become accustomed to Pearl Jam starting their concerts with one of their slower songs, but this time they started with “Last Exit,” one of my favorite songs from their ‘Vitalogy’ album, and they continued rocking hard through most of the main set. Before starting “Amongst The Waves” Ed said, “If you’re a surfer you’ll understand the song... If you are in love you’ll understand... If you’re a surfer in love... it’ll blow your fucking mind.” It’s such an amazing song. I wasn’t sure about “Johnny Guitar” from the new album. I know it’s a great rock song, but maybe not one of Pearl Jam’s best. But it turned out that it sounds great live. My favorite song from the new album is “Unthought Known” and it sounds awesome live. “Parachutes” was a nice surprise. Before starting, Ed said that he was probably going to fuck up the lyrics, since they don’t get to play this song too often. And he did, but only in one verse. Someone in the first row was helping Ed remember the lyrics, but the song still sounded great. I was glad they played “Daughter,” because they didn’t play it last time they came to San Diego. The main set closed with one of the best renditions of “Rearviewmirror” I’ve heard live.

The first encore was great. “The End” had been played accompanied by a string section in previous shows, but this time it was stripped down to just Ed solo on acoustic guitar, and it was just excellent and moving. Ben Harper joined the band on slide guitar for “Red Mosquito.” First time I’ve heard that one live. After the song, the band paused to sing “Happy Birthday” to Lulu, the sound guy’s daughter, along with the audience, and then dedicated “Given To Fly” to her.

Just when everybody was starting to wind down after the first encore and was getting ready to say goodbye, the band came back for a second kick-ass action-packed encore! Ed said, “It’s the last night [of the first leg of the tour], we don’t have anywhere else to go.” And they jumped directly into “Why Go,” “Black,” and “Betterman,” followed by Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” (joined by Ed and Matt’s music old instructors from San Diego) and The Byrds’ “So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star,” during which Ed told a story of when he used to work at a gas station in San Diego, and said to his former boss, who was in the audience, “that job was great… but, this job I have right now… I am never gonna give it up!” But then, with “Yellow Ledbetter,” it was time to say goodbye for the night. The band gave their all and the audience was so energetic.

I had a sore throat all weekend…

Awesome show!

Here’s the complete set list:

San Diego Viejas Arena, Oct 09, 2009

Set 1
•Last Exit
•Severed Hand
•Brain Of J.
•Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
•Amongst The Waves
•Johnny Guitar
•Even Flow
•Unthought Known
•I Got Id
•You Are
•Force of Nature
•Got Some
•Do The Evolution

Encore 1
•The End
•Red Mosquito
•Happy Birthday (To Lulu)
•Given To Fly
•Last Kiss
•The Fixer
•Life Wasted

Encore 2
•Why Go
•Better Man (Save it for Later)
•Little Wing
•So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star
•Yellow Ledbetter (The Star-Spangled Banner)

NOTE: "Red Mosquito" featured Ben Harper on guitar. "Little Wing" featured John Szantos and Bud Whitcomb on guitar and drums.

Click here for more photos.

San Diego 2009 Poster