Saturday Night Live, 2006

by John Reynolds , Brian Hyland , Kathy Davis , Jessica Letkemann on May 2, 2006

This is the third part of a three-part article on the history of Pearl Jam’s appearances on Saturday Night Live where TwoFeetThick.com looks at the broadcast performances as well as the skits, commercials and even some rehearsal footage where Pearl Jam was included in these three episodes spanning 14 years.


April 11, 1992



[ Read More ]
April 16, 1994



[ Read More ]
April 15, 2006



[ You Are Here ]

April 15, 2006

So what if it took over a decade for Pearl Jam to return to SNL. The timing reflected their approach to the industry as they prepared for a new album on a new label and a world tour. Since their 1994 performance, Pearl Jam had performed on television three times just up a few blocks at the Late Night with David Letterman show, and to promote their eigth studio album, Pearl Jam, are scheduled to perform on SNL, Letterman again, as well as TV shows in Europe. Hosted by Lindsey Lohan – promoting the upcoming film Just My Luck – this was the 16th episode in the 31st season of SNL. Here, we’ll look at the performances of two new songs, and Ed and Mike sandwiching Lindsey Lohan.

World Wide Suicide

The presentation of SNL’s music guests in 2006 has changed a lot since their last performance in 1994. Amidst the commercials prior to their first performance, there is now a quick spot of the band getting ready to play with the crowd cheering and Ed slightly recognizing the camera. The brown-and-white promo photos are now replaced with slick photography, here showing the band standing five accross, somewhat smiling, against a black background. Also, the host now introduces the band from the floor adjacent to the first rows of fan seating, and Lindsey Lohan energetically introduces the band with “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to rock and roll … Pearl Jam!”. Move over dark-and-dingy-with-slow-moving-fan stage setup, this is 2006, and SNL now features a brighter stage with lots (we really mean lots!) of bright, moving, overhead lights and many sweeping, panning cameras.

Their first SNL performance in twelve years is their first single off Pearl Jam, “World Wide Suicide”. The band once again makes a statement by what they wear by again *not* wearing anything fashionable or trendy (though you can make a case for Ed’s wallet chain). Aside from the rest of the band dressed in dark colors, Mike is wearing a red shirt over a white long-sleeve shirt, and Matt is wearing a blue button-down. Being the first video performance of the song, Ed reveals how the intro riff is played as the camera shows him raking the e-bow up and down the strings. The band’s gear appears the same as recent tours, with Ed’s amps leaning up against Matt’s drum kit.

Answering another question about WWS’s harmonies would be perfored live is the fact that Matt Cameron provides prominent backing vocals throughout (neither ’92 or ’94 included any backing vocals). The cameras are focused mainly on Ed and Matt singing. Jeff is reserved and seemingly in the shadows, doing his best Ben Shephard imitation by crouching over and dangling his bass close to the floor. Mike is doing his best to get some air time by jumping at every chance and breaking out some new versions of “doing the robot” with some deft split stances and head-turning moves.

The camera and light work seems well rehearsed, as it seems every time they break into chorus, the panning camera swoops in on the center of the stage then flies back. The “spotlights gone wild” lighting effects and “blink and you miss it” editing are in stark contrast to the ’92 and ’94 performances.

This performance of WWS is the second live version of the song (the first from AOL sessions earlier in the year) and is an energetic and seemingly “right on” performance. Ed even nails the scream (“another wayyyyy”) leading into the last chorus, leaving little difference between this live vocal and the scream on the single. At the song’s close, everyone loses their guitars and Matt hops from behind the kit onto the main floor. The pace of the song ends up being a little quicker than the recorded single, coming in at 3min 18s. And as is the trend in the new millenium to not have any segment go unsponsored, the lead-out to commercial features SNL’s announcer mentioning that “tonight’s musical guest is sponsored by < insert so-called “king of beers” company here >.”



Pearl Jam up next

PJ on black

Ed and the ebow

Matt sings backup

Mike jumping

“Another wayyyy”

Mike’s closing solo

White Zombies
 

Severed Hand

For their second appearance, Pearl Jam are again shown getting ready prior to the commercials ending. Lohan spritely introduces the band with “Once again, the always amazing Pearl Jam!”. With talk of PJ rehearsing “Life Wasted” for their 2nd slot, PJ premiered “Severed Hand” in its first publicly-heard appearance. Ed again is in the spotlight, finger-picking the opening bars. The song then changes gears and Ed changes out of his guitar, complete with a nice spin move to the mic before beginning the first verse. Mike and Stone are now both playing Sunburst Gibson Les Pauls. “Severed Hand” again features prominent backing vocals by Matt.

The lights seem even more active, flashing with a frequency nearing that of a strobe light. Ed raises his hands high during the line “Look around, the room’s taller now”. With the song’s vocals done, Ed straps his guitar back on and assists Stone with the rhythm as Mike solos with his eyes closed and head up towards the sky. The song ends with a big climax and a big jump by Ed. “Severed Hand” clocks in at 3min 45s. The lead-out to commercial shows another promotional photo of the band, this time smiling against a white backdrop with a blurring effect on the photo which makes almost everyone except Ed look like glassy-eyed zombies.



Ed preparing to play

“Severed Hand” intro

Ed singing

Matt sings backup

Ed and Stone

“Look around…”

Mike and Ed
 

Credits

As the shows close, Lindsey Lohan is front and center with Ed to her right and Mike to her left, both with snickering smiles. Jeff and Matt are behind Ed and Stone is behind Mike. Lohan starts rambling “thank you”s to the band, the crew – even the Easter Bunny (technically, it was already Easter at 1:00AM EST Sunday). Ed takes the opportunity to take out a necklace from around his neck, kiss the medallion, mouth something to the camera and return it under his shirt. Mike seems to say something to the camera, and fans are debating whether he says something anti-war (the last two words seem to be “no war”) or if he was just mouthing the words on Lohan’s teleprompter. What may have ensued in the final minute may never be known, because apparently this episode ran out of time and NBC local affiliate programming abruptly interrupted Lohan’s thank you speech at 1:00 AM.



Ed, Lindsey, Mike


Other SNL Appearances
April 11, 1992



[ Read More ]
April 16, 1994



[ Read More ]
April 15, 2006



[ You Are Here ]


Special thanks to Fred Evans for some screenshots and Rick Posey for identifying PJ’s gear!

References

John Reynolds ( Twitter: @jjjrrr )
A New Jersey based programmer, John handles TFT’s programming and technical aspects. He also conceives and writes his share of TFT’s articles and sections. John’s first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 12, 1992.
Brian Hyland
Kathy Davis ( Twitter: @CrookedArm23 )
A Bay-Area based entrepreneur, co-editor Kathy conceives and writes her share of TFT’s articles and sections. She was co-editor/co-founder of one of the first Pearl Jam fanzines "Footsteps" (1992-1997). Kathy’s first Pearl Jam show was at the Bridge School Benefit on November 1, 1992.
Jessica Letkemann ( Twitter: @Letkemann )
TFT co-editor Jessica Letkemann is a New York based music journalist & editor. She's been the managing editor of Billboard.com and was also previously on staff at Spin and Premiere magazines. Her first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 2, 1992.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

drew March 17, 2010 at 8:38 pm

ah, actually my favorite. mr.gossard sang back-up vocals on RVM in 1994……….

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