In this series Fugitive Sounds editor Cameron Howell posts selected stubs from his cache of concert tickets, along with his memories of the shows—a “little exercise” that he says “is as much about memory and explaining memories as it is about music or concerts.” Check back at noon each Thursday for the latest installment.
You and your buddy are still stung by your 2013 decision to buy Pearl Jam tickets from a Craig’s List seller, only to be turned away from the Barclays Center when security guards inform you that your (expensive) tickets were counterfeit.
Here is a chance to redeem yourselves. You have returned to the city where you born and raised, and Pearl Jam is coming to town. You can buy tickets from a reputable seller and enjoy the show.
Colonial Life Arena (Columbia, SC)
April 21, 2016
Your buddy flies to Columbia, South Carolina from New York on the morning of the show. He has never visited Columbia. After you pick up your buddy at the airport, you take him to lunch at a barbecue joint near the airport so that he can experience an S.C. delicacy: mustard-based barbecue sauce.
You and your buddy enter the barbecue joint, where the televisions are always tuned to Fox News. The televisions display a rotating series of photographs of Prince. Wait a minute. Prince on Fox News? Something is very wrong.
Indeed, the text crawling across the bottoms of the television screens explains that Prince has died. You feel nauseous. David Bowie’s death was tough. Prince’s death cuts just as deep—but the circumstances seem immediately sinister. Now his jet’s emergency landing, just a few days earlier, because of his “flu” symptoms is more than suspicious.
But you press ahead. You enjoy the barbecue with your buddy. You enjoying seeing your buddy spend time with your wife and daughter.
You put on a Prince t-shirt for the Pearl Jam concert, to honor the dead.
A colleague phones you just after 7PM, from the concert venue. There is confusion about when the band will begin playing. You panic a bit.
But you and your buddy leave your home and miraculously find a place to park within walking distance of the venue. You enter the venue and find your seats well before Pearl Jam begins playing.
You wear your custom earplugs, sculpted to fit the insides of your ears, because decades of rock concerts are taking a toll on your hearing. The earplugs filter out the damaging decibels, but the sensation is something like watching the concert from behind a very thick wall of glass. You feel a bit detached from the music. And you realize that the vast majority of attendees are very, very drunk.
Pearl Jam is nevertheless strong—like world-class athletes. Your seats are stage right, near Mike McCready’s amplifiers and guitar tech. McCready paces around his gear as he plays with pent-up energy.
Eddie Vedder talks to the fans. He has unkind things to say about a local politician who wants to legislate access to public bathrooms. (Pearl Jam had canceled a show scheduled for North Carolina during this tour, because a similar bill was made law there.) Vedder mentions the S.C. politician by name, and you think that the publicity will just embolden the politician.
The setlist, cut-and-pasted from the Pearl Jam message board, is below. 31 songs. During the concert, you realize just how deep the Pearl Jam catalog has become. You don’t recognize many of the songs. You and the rest of the audience respond loudly to the songs from the 1990s. That Pearl Jam has survived since then speaks to the band’s wise choices and great endurance.
You are betting that Pearl Jam will play a Prince cover, to honor Prince’s death. It’s easy to imagine Pearl Jam playing “Purple Rain” with genuine power. Or maybe Pearl Jam would cover a Prince song like “America”? The politics would make sense, and Pearl Jam could turn the song into a scorcher. But Pearl Jam plays a Neil Young cover. No Prince covers tonight.
Walk On Music: Pendulumorphosis
Band On Stage: 08:33
Band Off Stage: 11:37
02. Low Light
03. Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
05. Mind Your Manners
06. Do The Evolution
07. Lightning Bolt
08. Given To Fly
10. Even Flow
Ed compliments the audience on their good energy, especially after the terrible news today that Prince had passed away. Everyone in the band appreciated and admired Prince as songwriter and musician. “He was certainly a guy I expected to still be playing when he was in his eighties.” Ed goes onto say that, “Prince was one of the greatest guitar players in the world.” “He will be missed.”
11. Light Years
12. Marker In The Sand
Not every song is about sex, drugs and rock and roll. Some songs are sexy to geniuses and scientists. Some songs are about what is going to happen to the world and greedy corporations. If someone tells you we aren’t getting warmer look into their background and consider the source. (A loose approximation of what EV said.)
15. I Got ID
Encore Break One
Ed sees a woman in the audience with a Michigan license plate that says “VEDDER.” He asks her if she made it while she was in prison, noting that Detroit woman are tough. He spots another women in the audience holding a Cubs sign. He tells her the score (16 to 0). He also notes that it’s his mother’s birthday as well as Glen Hansard’s (“a great singer”). He ask the audience to do him a favor and sing happy birthday to his mother so he doesn’t look like he’s a terrible son. The audience obliges him.
(Eddie Vedder song from Into The Wild soundtrack performed on mandolin. First time played at a Pearl Jam concert)
Ed says his mom hawked her wedding ring so he could buy his first guitar. He paid her back eventually by working a minimum wage job at Long’s Drugs. “It was a great sacrifice on her part.” He says the line in the next song about a clip-on world is a reference to when he worked at Long’s and had to wear a clip-on neck tie.
18. Sleight Of Hand
“This doesn’t have anything to do with songs but the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta pitched a no-hitter. I know a lot of you don’t care but I don’t care that you don’t care. Next time the Gamecocks do something great I will get excited. Gamecocks! Chug It!” (Ed takes big slug of wine.)
(This is for Janell and her husband Michael. Michael just retired from the Navy.)
20. All Those Yesterdays
22. Got Some
23. Wasted Reprise
Ed addresses the Raleigh cancellation. He says that it was a very difficult decision but one they had to make. He says if you question the timing it was because we were doing everything we could do to try and play the show until the decision had to (switch?). He notes that South Carolina has a similar bill pending—S. 1203—and he hopes that it will get rejected.
24. Life Wasted
Encore Break Two
Ed comments on Jeff’s Unfuck The World shirt. Jeff says his friend Angel Olsen made the shirt and is in the audience tonight and he compliments her band. The band starts to play, surprising Ed a little bit. They play about 30 seconds of “Purple Rain” by Prince as Ed says they have been thinking about Andy Wood. The guys start playing.
26. Chloe Dancer/Crown Of Thorns (Mother Love Bone, A. Wood)
27. State Of Love And Trust (Ed hands mic to guys on the barricade for some hey oh’.)
30. Rockin’ In The Free World (Neil Young)
Ed has the audience pass a tambourine back to a young girl who has been sitting on her dad’s shoulders all night.
31. Yellow Ledbetter (Mike references Purple Rain again during his solo)