Kathy’s Krazy Notes: On Tour with EV

by Kathy Davis on April 5, 2008

TFT’s Kathy Davis has traveled all over the world to see Pearl Jam. In April 2008, she traveled all around California to see Ed Vedder on his “April Fool’s” solo tour.

Kathy’s eye for music- and pj-related minutae is unparalled. Most of the notes that she has produced for the Concert Chronology are long to begin with and are already massively edited down.

For the Ed shows that Kathy is attending, we’re presenting her un-edited, stream-of-consciousness notes, revealing all of Kathy’s detail and passion for Ed and music in general. Enjoy!

April 5, Santa Cruz, CA, SC Civic Auditorium

I have a bit to share about the Santa Cruz show, which was amazing, of course. The “SNIPER” program handed out free by ushers before you walk in to take your seat (someone posted this the other day from Vancouver) looks just like a Playbill you would get when you walk in to a Broadway play. Just as there would be actor biographies and credits, there are biographies and credits of Ed, Liam and the entire crew -including the bus driver. Jesse Calleros, one of PJ’s longtime security guys, was in the Marines from 1988-1992 as an infantryman/security guard and sniper, hence the name of the program -it’s a shout out to Jesse!

I wanted to mention the backdrops, because I’m a geek. :) I looked at all 3 backdrops Ed used pretty carefully, and the first one used during the main set is painted to look like the reverse side of prop scenery. You know when you go to a play and they have the large art canvas style backdrops on the stage, with pictures of houses or storefronts on them, and they are mounted on large wood frames and reinforced with wood, and are free standing? The *reverse* side of these are what is painted on the backdrop. So when Ed is onstage, he is surrounded by the backs of prop scenery, backstage at a play, and the imaginary play is going on behind him on the other side of the backdrop – we are all watching him at our little intimate backstage show.

A dear friend pointed out that the white lab coats George Webb and other stage crew wear (and Ed put on last night for “Arc” and “Hard Sun” with Liam and EJ – who also wore white lab coats – are an homage of sorts to Neil Young, who on the Rust Never Sleeps tour had a man in a wolf mask and white lab coat (some say it was Neil himself) appear out of a packing crate, sniff around the stage to make sure it was alright…. then Neil would come out and play. When the person in the mask came out to tidy up the stage before Ed’s Vancouver show, that *may* have been Ed. I guess also on the Rust Never Sleeps tour, between sets men in lab coats would come out and take notes. It was a pretty theatrical tour!

The next backdrop (in place after “Porch” last night) is a big tent, which Ed alluded to in Santa Cruz before playing a couple of “campfire sing alongs”, “Lukin” and “No War”. He said he would play the first one if we promised to sing along on the second.

The final backdrop, used during the new song “Santa Cruz” and “Hard Sun” is a big blue sky with puffy white clouds. Maybe it goes along with the “Hard Sun”, if you will. I thought the backdrops all did a great job of creating an intimate atmosphere and making it feel even more special to be in the room.

Ed was engaging and hilarious. After “MOTH”, he told a silly story about he does like his room service breakfast and usually orders it while on the road. He tried to order an egg white omelette with tomato and cheese for breakfast from the Vancouver hotel, and being unable to get the poor woman with accented English taking his order on the phone to understand his request. She said the only egg white omelette they had was with asparagus, spinach, Canadian bacon and cheese…he said fine, take out the asparagus, spinach and bacon and add tomato. He thought she got it, but was then delivered an egg white omelet with asparagus, spinach, Canadian bacon and cheese. He said he wasn’t that hungry anyway, so didn’t make a fuss, he just didn’t eat it. So the next morning, he tried again, got the same lady. He decided “fuck the egg white shit” and tried a made to order omelet with tomato and cheese – “but can you make it with whites?”. She said “Let me read it back to you. That’s oatmeal with tomato and cheese.” He said “I’m sorry, that was omelette with tomato and cheese.” She said, “Oh oh, I’m sorry I misheard you.” He hung up, then sat for a minute and thought “OATMEAL? I can get oatmeal with tomato and cheese but not eggs? Maybe I should have tried it.” He didn’t really say whether he got his omelette or not.

After “Broken Hearted”, a cell phone went off in the front row. Ed said “Somebody’s cell phone. Do you want me to get it? The guy shut it off immediately, then Ed mimed himself answering the phone “Yeah, this is Eddie. No I can’t right now, I’m busy playing a bunch of depressing songs” and hung up the imaginary phone. Then the cell phone went off AGAIN and Ed said “that fucking phone again. Seriously – do you want me to get it?” He wasn’t mad, just distracted by it. He then went over and stood in front of the guy and put his hand out to take it. He stood for a minute encouraging the guy, and the crowd booed when the guy didn’t hand it over.

Ed explained, as he has before about the Ukulele songs, about how he wrote a bunch of sad depressing songs on such a happy instrument. He said you know how you have that one friend who is ALWAYS happy whenever you see them no matter what? Then he impersonated such a person saying “hey” enthusiastically with a big smile and made a bunch of happy faces. He said “Like Australians. No worries!” Then his forehead wrinkled and he said “No. Worries!” His body kind of curled down with the uke, and he said then there are those times when you say “No. I’m sad, and you’re coming down with me.” Then he played Broken HeartEd (which he actually played on the guitar), “Goodbye” & “You’re True”. I think he said something about “You’re True” being a little more up.

The song Ed said he wrote instead of surfing in (cold!) Santa Cruz was VERY Neil-esque…with harmonica and was about visiting Neil and being in Santa Cruz (“look at our speed, we’re going 63… lifting my blues, I can’t lose pulling in to Santa Cruz…” and mentioned highway 17). Neil’s son Ben Young was in attendance!

The setlist kind of speaks for itself. Ed’s guitar playing is out of this world. Whatever hiccups he may have had in Vancouver were not evident in Santa Cruz. He’s more rhythmic with it, more nuanced, using the body of the instrument acoustically -notably during Around The Bend – tapping on it a bit…it’s pretty unreal. His skill has really really taken off…the making of ITW seems to have just taken his playing to another level. I think it was particularly evident during the guitar breakdown on I Am Mine….Pete Townsend couldn’t have strummed the hell out of it any better. It was passionate, fiery and skilled playing. At the end of Dead Man, he really “parked” the song, using his fingers down by the pickups to silence the strings then picking up the guitar and shaking the body back and forth to create this cool wobbly reverb as the sound died. Ed credits himself as a “singer, songwriter, guitarist” in the program, as well he should. I liked how the uke songs were grouped together and the ITW songs were together – Ed is the master of the setlist flow! For Society, Liam joined Ed on guitar and vocals. A touch I also thought was super cool was that the white patch of floor underneath Ed has a slight amplification, so he can stomp his feet along with some songs (Far Behind was one such song).

I love how on the “HEY!” in “You’ve got to hide your love away” the lights onstage shine up to accentuate the “hey” that everyone is shouting. Ed let us sing the second chorus by ourselves before he played it out on harmonica. Ed has an all white electric Strat-esque guitar that I didn’t recognize that he played on Trouble, Millworker and several other songs . Anyone know anything about it?

Ed donned a lab coat for Arc, saying it was “an experiment”. The stage lights were nearly non-existent during the song, and the sound at the Civic is BRILLIANT (it’s kind like a gymnasium, all wood and lively sound) so you could just close your eyes and get immersed in layer after layer of Ed’s free voice. It was breathtaking and emotional! After Arc, some meat-head yelled in a surfer-dude voice “Let’s Party!” to which Ed responded immediately “What do you think we’ve been doing?!?” Everyone laughed, then he said “Well, I’ve been up here kind of working, but I thought that’s what *you* have been doing.”

Sorry this is sort of disjointed, trying to decipher my notes that were taken in the dark (while at the same time not taking my gaze from the beauty onstage) is pretty challenging. From my scribbling and memory, I see that after I Am Mine, Ed said “thank you” and with “no false pretension” it’s great to be in beautiful Santa Cruz. He talked about how the wet suit was invented in Santa Cruz, and that the New Zealanders loved the town as well (he impersonated Liam perfectly saying “It’s spectacular, Eddie!”). Ed mentioned that the town was great not just for the ocean and the beaches, but if it wasn’t for Santa Cruz, surfers would never have known the joys of peeing in their wetsuits. Or even if you’re not surfing….

Before I’m Open (played simply, on the electric guitar) Ed talked about the song, how it was about how great being in nature with pals….talking and arguing, then being in nature alone, and you start talking to the sky. OH yeah and after MOTH Ed talked about how at sound check the Civic seems like a HUGE arena (probably because of the big reverberant sound) and that it made him feel very tall. He then got up and clump-clump-clumped his feet across the white floor to make noise like he was a giant or something, to much laughter. He then went back to sip his red Gatorade (from a glass, mind you!) and said “Imagine the stuff I’d be saying if I’d been drinking.”

In a beautiful touch right before Porch at the end of the main set when Ed sang Forever Young, the stage lights were brought down to a very dim glow, creating an atmosphere of prayer that went perfectly with the lyrics:

  • May God bless and keep you always,
  • May your wishes all come true,
  • May you always do for others
  • And let others do for you.
  • May you build a ladder to the stars
  • And climb on every rung,
  • May you stay forever young,
  • Forever young, forever young,
  • May you stay forever young.
  • May you grow up to be righteous,
  • May you grow up to be true,
  • May you always know the truth
  • And see the lights surrounding you.
  • May you always be courageous,
  • Stand upright and be strong,
  • May you stay forever young,
  • Forever young, forever young,
  • May you stay forever young.
  • May your hands always be busy,
  • May your feet always be swift,
  • May you have a strong foundation
  • When the winds of changes shift.
  • May your heart always be joyful,
  • May your song always be sung,
  • May you stay forever young,
  • Forever young, forever young,
  • May you stay forever young.

The setting, staging, lights and brilliance of Ed shone very brightly in Santa Cruz. How lucky that I get 3 shows in my ‘hood before I head down to the SoCal shows!


Kathy D

April 7, Berkeley, CA, Zellerbach Theatre

The man with the giant white Moon-like head and white lab coat” came out and swept the stage before Liam came out, and after the main set.

I noticed a few things about Ed’s setup tonight. The open suitcase that is in the floor in front of him houses a music stand for lyrics and notes. The up-ended Corona box is not just a place for him to rest his ashtray; there is a little kick pedal in there and I imagine something for it to hit. During I Am Mine, Ed’s gaze was really drawing in the room, looking left, center right, slightly up to the mezzanine/balcony. A sweet touch. After that he chatted a bit; Ed told us he never went to school, not used to being on a campus, surrounded by people who are smarter than me. We laughed, and he added “you have to be me to understand just how funny that is.” He asked if there was recruiting station nearby, that it’s the American thing convenience. As a parent, you can raise a kid, feed him, clothe him, educate him and send him to college where he’s recruited for a war where he’s paralyzed or killed.

He said “we’re going to connect some dots tonight”, and talked about Dead Man, how he did the song for the movie Dead Man Walking written by Tim Robbins, it didn’t make it to the film, but that was how “it” all started, being friends with Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon and became part of the “Activists of Evil” .saying there were even trading cards, some radio station back in the day coined the term. Ed said that Medea Benjamin (founder of Code Pink, a women’s anti-war protest group) was one of the “Activists of Evil”, so he felt (being grouped in with such a great person) that now “we’re doing something”. Before I’m Open, he said here’s another song from a movie.

He strummed a note or two, then said quickly “from a movie in my head.”

After MOTH, Ed talked about how it was a wonder he was even able to play anything because for the last hour and a half (he pointed stage left, toward a window backstage) there has been the most f*cking awful drum circle I’ve ever heard (it’s a UC Berkeley campus staple that’s been going on regularly for years). To explain his judgement, He said “I have a card that I’m allowed in I thought maybe it was Freshmen but from where?” to much laughter.

After Setting Forth, someone from the crowd called out “You should have won an Academy Award!” and people cheered and applauded. Ed got a slight smile and said he was grateful to have (the award) night off, and people involved with the film were proud of it and proud to have Hal Holbrook representing the team, and a lot more involved should have had nominations. He joked the award would have been something else to clean. After Guaranteed, Ed mentioned seeing a late night ad for a compilation “Hits Of The 80′s” or something, and that the song “Ghostbusters” was nominated for an Academy Award, and said “that song I just played was not as good as Ghostbusters.”

I noticed yet more skilled guitar strumming during the solo in Millworker, and during the solo, Ed using the amplified floor, percussively tapping his foot along with his strums. Coolness.

Before “Satellite”, Ed mentioned that Susan Sarandon turned him onto the WM3 and inspired him to get involved The next song and explained about the convict’s plight, and that there is an amazing love story, Damien’s Echols’ wife Lorri Davis, is an incredible woman, incredible fighter sent this song to them some time ago (he said he hadn’t played it live, but he played in at ATP in 2001). He played it for Lorri Davis, who was at the show.

For Hide your love, had us keep going, having us repeat the chorus 4 times. He enjoyed our singing with his head tilted back, eyes closed, and seemed slightly euphoric)

Amidst more instances of crowd blurtings, Ed said “I like to keep my personal opinions to myself”, at which time 2 stagehands carried a large OBAMA ’08 banner across the stage, to much cheering. He told a story about “Here’s to the state” about how Phil Ochs wrote it about Civil Rights marches of 1961, changed it in 1972 (he guessed) to skew it toward Richard Nixon, then in 2004 for Vote For Change, Tim Robbins added some lyrics.

Asked if any of us had seen Fugazi? Cheers. He talked about seeing Fugazi “somewhere over here” and motioned behind him, he said it was maybe the Berkeley Square. [I think he means at Fort Mason in May 1, 1993 as several of my pals and I were there and witnessed the following thing he's talking about] and during a lull in the show (“like right now” to laughter) this punk looking kid came up and started talking, we talked for 45 minutes, turned out to be Tim Armstrong of Rancid (then he was in Operation Ivy). Tim gave him a 2 disc 7″ Gilman Street compilation that included a song by the Yeastie Girls. Ed said if anyone here was in the Yeastie Girls he’s be “SO excited” .then went on to rap part of the song:

We’re the yeastie girls, and we got yeast power

We don’t don’t shave our armpits and we don’t shower

We don’t say ‘Thank You’ and we don’t say ‘Please’

We put things in our vagina that you wouldn’t believe!

People were pretty annoyingly yelling things all night, Ed said “all this noise between that and the drum circle” . he said Tom Waits once told him “Silence is like a blank sheet of paper ” and that sometimes when you’re trying to work “You need a clean sheet of paper” and not one with scribbles all over it”. It kind of abated a bit after that. For the final chorus of “Porch”, Ed backed off the microphone and had us sing it. Main set over at 10.30 or so

Ed explained that when making ITW, he played it for Sean in Seattle, and Sean wondered if Ed had any more songs, and Ed told him “not unless you have a wild card.” Sean thought “wild card” and called his friend Jerry Hannan that was 2 pm, Jerry was in Seattle by 8, and brought in the song “Society” to the ITW mix. Jerry came out and played the song with Ed.

Ed dedicated Growing Up .he said he didn’t want to embarrass the person by pointing them out, but it was for him and his son. Ed again stomped the hell out of the floor while playing Lukin. I like that floor.

Prior to No More, Ed held up a picture from that day’s USA Today newspaper of his friend Tomas Young, the subject of the film Body Of War, and encouraged people to see the amazing story. (It is to be screened in local theaters around April 18th I think). At the end when the song is winding down and Ed sings “No more innocents dying” the crowd has been singing the NO MORE parts (“no more terror rising” “NO MORE”, etc he kept the chant going, helping us express our emotions with the words by suggesting our passionate delivery”

Ed said COURAGE we answered NO MORE

Ed said RELIEF we answered NO MORE

Ed said GUTS we answered NO MORE

Ed said ANGER we answered NO MORE

Before Arc, as Ed readied himself, he said “this is science”, then “an experiment.” Blue gels bathed the theater in a healing blue glow. The dull light created an emotional atmosphere.

Jerry Hannan joined Liam and Eliza Jane for Hard Sun, and it was a hoot!

April 8, Berkeley, CA, Zellerbach Theatre

Berkeley 2. I’m spun on end, people. Where do I start? I have to start at the end and work my way back.

Over 2-1/2 hours of beautiful, powerful, perfect music. Ed’s tears. Ed’s rapture at our singing, Jerry Hannan again….Ed’s extraordinary chattiness… so many stories, the mind reels. AND…..

1. Mike F*cking McCready!!!!!

2. Sean F*cking Penn!!!!

You read that correctly. I have to just cut to the chase a bit and will flesh out the rest of the set after I spout about these 2 amazing guests.

The main set was similar to others, with a swap in of Masters Of War as powerful as any I’ve heard after I Am Mine early on, Soon Forget snuck into the Uke section. But I’ll get back to that later.

First, Sean: After Arc, Ed came back out and said if it’s not taking too much advantage, I’d like to do more. I could spy the setlist from where I sat, and could see a little thing “S.P” written after Arc…so Ed says “the only place you’re allowed to smoke in this building is on stage, so…come out and have a smoke” – and out comes Sean Penn. Mr. Sean freaking Penn. In a freaking lab coat!!!

Sean says “Eddie Vedder is the soul I aspire to be”. Ed ran to a second suitcase he had behind him, popped it open, brought out a bottle of red wine and two LARGE plastic wine glasses, splashed in the wine and the two toasted. And smoked. After a weird minute or 2 of just standing there being cheered by the adoring crowd , Ed settled back onto his stool. Someone called out “You guys look so cute!” Ed said he didn’t hear it, is it worth repeating, do you want to say it again? And the person did, and Ed said “I’m sorry, I still didn’t hear that” in a way that let you know that he *did* hear. Sean said “among the gifts” of the evening was an “opportunity to celebrate” special people, and Sean said “Happy Birthday Robin” and they toasted her. Ed said something to Robin (I assume Robin Wright-Penn)) and that he was going to do a song for “your -” and then he hesitate on the words, settling on “your man here.” He said he wrote the song about 10 years ago, right after he and Sean first met in New York.

Paraphrasing some of the lyrics, Ed sang: “Sean- could mean a man or a woman, Penn – could be a writing implement or a federal prison” The chorus was: “I’ll tell you what he isn’t – just another bad acting hack”. In the song Ed talked about Sean’s Dad being in the business, your brother Chris is too, your other brother’s a singer, for once nepotism is cool. He sang how he enjoyed Sean as a surfer, a drug addicted cop, a lawyer on coke (let’s just say you inhabited the role)…I can’t possibly do justice to how fabulous and cleverly-written it was! At the end, the two hugged, and Ed slipped his hands down and grabbed Sean’s ass, perhaps giving a show to the gentleman who thought they were cute.

Liam, Eliza Jane and Jerry Hannan came out and sang Hard Sun, and it was so energetic that Ed kept us singing well after the tape stopped. (OH I looked at the tape machine, and it’s a Teac 3300 reel-to-reel and there IS an actual tape in the thing. I think it’s just for show, but there is tape on the spools). Picture:

And then, Mikey: After Hard Sun, Ed told us he wanted to thank his band for supporting him and making it possible for him to do what he does and that he had something from each of them with him. He had Jeff’s rug, “in the suitcase back there are drumsticks from Matt Cameron”, he didn’t think he had anything of Stone’s, but someone in the crew had pointed out that his favorite acoustic guitar (I think it’s the one he plays on I Am Mine, couldn’t tell which one he was nodding at) was actually Stone’s. “Stone is good that way.” Ed added. Then he got to Mike and said he really didn’t have anything of Mike’s, so he made a couple of calls and had it FedExed…and wheeled out on a dolly/trolley, in white Lab coat and snazzy bowler/fedora was THE MAN HIMSELF Mike McFrickenCREADY!! The place was done for by then. It was as though everyone’s favorite team had just one the Super Bowl or World Cup or something they way people were screaming and jumping up and down and chest bumping and high-fiving! Mike sat down, was handed a guitar and launched RIGHT into Yellow Ledbetter! Ed on Stone’s acoustic, Liam Finn on drums, maybe with Matt’s drumsticks!! After that, the combo kept playing and breezed into All Along The Watchtower.

If you’d have told me that I’d be seeing all that earlier that evening when I walked in the venue, I might have punched you in the stomach and told you to stop teasing me. I still feel kinda like I’m dreaming a bit.

Now back to our regular programming. A few notes on the copious stories and magical moments of the night:

Around the Bend: Ed tried to start the second verse, and just kept strumming the little in between break over and over, and smiled slightly saying “Where am I? Anybody know?” He said he was sitting there and could feel himself strumming and singing but he was completely off somewhere else, not here. “Disappeared. Left the building.” I think he said, like he had an out of body experience.

After ATB, a long chat, introduced by Ed saying “My apologies…I’m depressed.” He paused, then mentioned that that was a polite way of saying “hung over.” He said he was up late discussing the death penalty, and the West Memphis 3 with Lorri Davis (wife of WM3 convict Damien Echols) until 4:30 in the morning. “We were angry” he said, angry at the apathy of the singing during No More the night before. He stressed the plight of the WM3 being at a critical time, and asked us to “help educate, and assist justice”. Ed mentioned Berkeley students are active – learning, exploring & growing, and during No More the night before, they sang like they were at a Young Republican’s convention. The crowd booed and hissed, and Ed said “if you can’t get people to sing a protest song on a college campus, at Berkeley -then what the f*ck!”

Dead Man: After the song, some woman shouted (yes, there was more ridiculous and senseless calling out to Ed throughout the night) “You should have won an Oscar!” to which Ed replied “I couldn’t even get it on the record! What was it, a B-side?” He mentioned that he had another contribution to the soundtrack (Croon Spoon anyone?) and songs with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan that he was proud of.

Introduced I’m Open by saying this song could be interpreted to be about wanting a relationship with someone, with a woman, but that it’s being “Open to something….a little bet less than a woman – (like) God.” Then my heart exploded a little.

Post tune, Ed mentioned that the Drum Circle had once again been out in force that afternoon. He said he always kind of had a prejudice against the hacky sack, but that at least it was quiet! “Ever been to a torture museum?” Ed asked the crowd, to confused laughter. Someone shouted “Amsterdam!” (she must have heard the story before). “Yes, Amsterdam is the home of a very fine torture museum”. He guessed he had been there in 1991, and talked about the things he saw there, like “The Horse” which was sharpened-edge wood in a horse shape that victims were sat on, and heavy weights attached to the person’s legs until it basically cut them in half. Then he spoke of the 1700 or 1800 invention of a large “heavy metal”, I mean REAL heavy metal rabbit or rooster head that you’d have to wear if you were caught lying. Finally he spoke of a wood trumpet-like object that wove around and you had to put your hands in and be locked in, called the “Flute of Shame”, and it was for bad musicians. Bad drumming in a circle (it seems the only thing that could comfort Ed from the heinous drum circle pounding in his head over 2 days was the thought of them all being tortured. As a semi-frequent campus visitor, I can attest to the often a-rhythmic and leaderless, endless drum jams that take place near Zellerbach Hall.) Ed hoped he wasn’t setting himself up for failure, turning his guitar over onto his lap and drumming badly on it before playing Man Of The Hour.

After MoTH, Ed talked about how amazing the room sounded, but what was really amazing was the sound in the Grand Canyon. He readied himself to play the ITW songs by talking about how he was

“such a fortunate human” to have a child and how much his daughter loves music. She knows and likes the Into The Wild songs and dances to them. He makes it a point not to have a guitar attached to himself constantly at home, to keep it special for her. She doesn’t know what Into The Wild is about, but she knows there is a bear. She thinks the bear was in the studio. “Does the bear talk?” she wonders. She knows Emile (Hirsch, actor who played Chris McCandless of course), she’s talked to him on phone a couple of times. She has different names for the songs “Dad, play Reason I’ll Be” (No Ceiling ). Olivia wanted to know what Ed meant when he sang the words “Don’t come closer or I’ll have to go” from Guaranteed. What does that mean Daddy? Ed explained to her it’s not me saying it honey, it’s the guy in the movie, it’s Chris. “Well who is he telling that to Dad?” (“Heavy.” Ed said to us). He said he was trying to figure out what to tell her, and just said that he’s saying it to the bear. Parents in the crowd can understand, you have to be quick on your feet with children. We laughed, and Ed said in a few years, I’ll be the one that she’ll be saying it to.

Millworker: At the end of the song, there was a beautiful little improv: “Hold me….Hold me….don’t own me….hold me…just hold me….”

Soon Forget: My favorite thing… “the townsfolk they all laughed” then an off mike 4 beats of Ed singing “ha ha ha ha”.

Throughout the night, carrying the phrase over from last night, various people would shout “Science!” I think that’s in response to the labcoats onstage, and Ed calling Arc and experiment. After Soon Forget, Ed said…was it Bill Hicks who said “Creationists look less evolved?” I think the line is about evolutionists, but whatever works, Ed.

Drifting: Ed told us that said the song was based on real experience, so “thank you for allowing us to have some of these experiences”….(I’ve) worked in a drug store, been a waiter, a night security guard, a gas guy…and “I can clean windows. Had I stayed on that route…Assistant Manager at Long’s Drugs. I get to lose myself for long periods of time”. (paraphrasing) Chris didn’t have to sell a million records to do it, to see the world and have experiences. So thank you.

Picture In A Frame was dedicated to a particular special (nameless) couple, then Ed said “if you’re a couple and you think you’re special, I open this dedication to you.” After the sweetly delivered song, more inane shouting. (Don’t call me daughter!, etc.). The funniest shout Ed heard was “Vitalogy” to which he immediately responded, okay here it is, the entire album, we need about 45 minutes…and you’re going to have to sit through 8 minutes of looping and feedback and “hey sexy mop handle mama” (that’s what he said, I’m just sayin’)…then –GET THIS – he impersonated the chick on the recording, in the high voice “A spanking it’s the only thing I want so much.” I fell off my chair. Then he mock-shouted “I NEED AN ACCORDION!”

Ed talked about people telling him how children were at these shows…one woman with a baby, breast feeding it with the headphones on the baby. He said it’s been a few years…paused for a second and said “since I’ve fed my child” (to much laughter), but said he’d read a bit about it “when you breast feed, doesn’t that make them kind of high?” And he thought that was kind of cool that babies were kind of tripping out at his show. NO, I’m not making this up!!! He said when he found out he was going to have a child, a few years back, and he called a few friends, and one of them was Sean Penn. He wasn’t in so Ed left a message, and Sean called back. Ed did a hilarious impersonation of Sean calling back, and said “I heard the news, and that’s great….that’s fantastic. (pause…) Who’s the father?. And Ed said that proves that “Sean Penn is an asshole” to much laughter. But he’s the best and most favorite asshole I’ve ever known.

More inane shouting. Someone yelled “Hillary!” and Ed immediately blurted “Oh, is that because I sang Trouble earlier?” Ed said he’s been thinking about it, and that actors, musicians and entertainers, they shouldn’t influence public opinion …”what would I know?” We should leave it to the businessmen who never leave their offices, and the radio personalities who spend all day in the studio. I mean I’ve only traveled the world and experienced different cultures and lived life, what would I know? This went on while the “OBAMA ‘08″ banner was carried once again across the stage

Jerry Hannan joined Ed for Society, which was coolness. After that, a voice from the crowd shouted “play the Santa Cruz song Eddie”, and he said “that young man has a good idea.” Ed talked about there being a big difference between Vancouver and Santa Cruz, how it hit them when they drove down. He was thinking about writing another song, but trying to rhyme Berkeley proved vexing… great line in Santa Cruz “I’ve got Neil Young on the stereo, he comes with me wherever I go.” Love that! He encouraged people if they caught on to the words to sing the chorus, to turn the room into a choir.

No War: We were challenged to raise our voices for this one, and everyone rose to the challenge beautifully. The crowd was so loud, passionate and sincere-sounding, it literally brought tears to Ed’s eyes. The curtain closed, and he stood in front of it, applauded us, and moved along a good chunk of the front row, shaking hands with a lot of people. He did that the night before as well. Ed stood with his hand over his heart, really feeling it, and headed through the part in the curtain where we was greeted by the Moon-Shaped Head Man who carried him off. And that brings us full circle….go back to the top for the rest of the show!


P.S. There are 4, lovely vintage Shure Vocal Master PAs being used for amplification. (Are these the ones Ed talks about in Rolling Stone, cramming into that little room when writing Elderly Woman?)

A little on the amps:

From prosoundweb.com: The Shure Vocal Master, introduced in 1967, integrated a power amplifier, mixer, and speakers in a compact package – the first “portable total sound system.” (look to the right and left of the musicians, one of whom is Conway Twitty, by the way).

Oh yeah, the cream/white Fender is definitely a Strat. At least that’s what I thought it said on the headstock.

April 10, Santa Barbara, CA, Arlington Theatre

The Arlington Theatre is this gorgeous building, built in 1931 I think as a movie theatre. They sell movie type concessions in the lobby, so it smells like popcorn! When you walk in to the main floor, you’re surrounded by fake cream-colored Spanish villas with red-tile roofs painted on the walls, plus a couple of real balconies with silk flowers hanging down situated on either side of the stage. The ceiling is painted a deep blue, and there are a few tiny lights sprinkled on the ceiling so when you’re standing there, it feels like you’re outside.

So around Showtime, instead of Tuolumne playing as entrance music, there was some wobbly piano being piped in. Loud cheers went up, and to the audience’s right, Ed appeared on the balcony. He looked at us, waved, moved toward a pillar, and climbed over the railing, edging his way along it. It was WAY too high for him to jump; he grabbed a rope that had been tied to the pillar, wrapped his legs around the rope and shimmied down it, dropping onto the floor just to the right of the 4th row! He climbed onstage, let the crazy cheering die down a bit. He took of his dark blue denim shirt jacket, revealing the Chicago Bears #34 Walter Payton jersey, and launched into Walking the Cow. Strumming a bit of Around The Bend, Ed said that he didn’t know if giving us two lullabies was obnoxious after the entrance, but “It’s good when a man knows how to take his time.”

I love the little segue to the guitar break before the last verse of ATB; Ed tapped a little 4 note beat just below the sound hole. After the song he talked about meeting a couple of 12-year-old kids from Ojai (California) before the show; he explained that his daughter is young enough that she’ll forget most of what he says and not have to go to psychotherapy for it years down the line. So these “intelligent, beautiful” 12-year-olds were talking to him about music and playing guitar and Ed related that when he was younger, close to their age he played bar chords, but learned how to play open chords because he had a church songbook with diagrams. The songbook had things like (and I think Ed strummed and sang the lines, if memory serves) “Country roads, take me home” (by John Denver)…”shit songs with great chords. (But) I shouldn’t speak ill of the dead.” So he stole the songbook from church, and he thought when he was telling them the story, “Yes, align yourself by Satan at an early age (by stealing from a church).” So he’s worrying about corrupting these kids with this discussion, and being hyper aware of everything else he said to them, then the boy says “Have you heard of the a band called The Smut Peddlers?” Ed imagined the kids were thinking that he’s not much of a rock star because he kinda “looked like a pussy and didn’t cuss” once. “Smut Peddlers. I’ve known a couple, but not the band.”

From my seats stage right, I could clearly see Karrie Keyes on the monitor board (she wasn’t in Santa Cruz or Berkeley from what I could tell) – her mic warm ups are what always gets me drooling with a Pavlovian response at PJ shows (“hey HEY….hey, yeah). That reminds me (forgive me while I backtrack here a bit) there was no curtain tonight. At the other 3 shows, there was a curtain that closed after Liam’s set while Ed’s crew readied his setup. At the other shows, it added to the theatrical atmosphere not to see the preparations. The between set music is Tom Waits, then Tuolumne swells up, curtain opens and Ed comes out to a smack of cheers. Santa Barbara was a little different with no curtain, watching the lab coat-clad techs .(George Webb, Karrie K and another gent unknown to me) working their pre-show magic.

SO the reason for my distracting ramble about the side-stage view; I was transported after reading my note: “IAM- Ben rocking out to chorus”. It’s impossible to mistake Ben Harper’s trademark wide headband that he always wears, and I could see him swaying and shoulders left and right during the chorus of I Am Mine. I tried not to let the exciting idea that I might see him on stage later distract me.

After IAM, Ed felt compelled to respond to the cacophony of people shouting out things, once again (what IS IT about these shows that engender such lame behavior?…okay, I admit to shouting out ONE thing, but it was in Berkeley 1, and it was in response to Ed asking “do you mind if I have a quick smoke?” I shouted “YES!” because his smoking makes me angry). Anyway, Ed said “since you are a boisterous crowd”, how many of you here are locals from Santa Barbara?” Cheering and raised hands in response. He then asked “how many of you were born and raised here?” More cheering and raised hands. Okay, we’ve talked, “now you can shut the f*ck up.” He was amiable about it, but it was nice that he said something to try to quiet people down. Ed shared that he’d traveled around a bit, but I assure you “the rest of the world does NOT look like this.” And that elicited an even larger response. “No wonder you’re so fucking happy and boisterous.”

One would think Dead Man would calm the crowd. Before continuing, (massive paraphrasing here) Ed said that he can’t enjoy myself until I’ve taken care of some real things, things like soldiers being off at war, people unjustly on death row, and chatted a brief bit, encouraging action/awareness. As a reward for that, I’ll play a request of some young man over here (waving stage left-someone had indeed yelled for the Throw Your Arms Around Me earlier) “Not that I make deals.” He’s so charismatic, you’d think he had no intention of playing the song until someone shouted it, but it was actually on the set list. He used another guitar I can’t recall seeing before, a 1952 Fender Telecaster, similar to this one:

but the blonde finish was WAAAAAAAAAAAAY more distressed than the above. No fake wear on this guitar, it looked well-loved and had a really crisp sound. Ed delivered the line “shout it to the blue summer sky” with particular passion. How many places to kiss you in? 155 places.

Prior to the Into The Wild portion of our show, Ed told us that if it weren’t for Sean Penn and that movie I wouldn’t have a reason to come out, and thanked him for that. I didn’t remember at the other shows if Ed played the finger-picked intro of Setting Forth, so forgive me, but he played it tonight…cool! After Guaranteed, the sweat on Ed’s forehead was noticeable….the man works hard for his money, and he gave it a good mopping before continuing with No Ceiling. After it, Ed said that someone pointed out that it’s a short song, but that there are shorter ones, and then he launched in to “Her Majesty” by The Beatles! This life-long Beatles held the sides of her head the entire time to stop it from exploding. And may I add a stitch to the life-thread by pointing out that on record, Her Majesty clocks in at 23 seconds? You have to love it. Ed said “short songs are great songs.” In the guitar breakdown just before the final verse of Far Behind (“subtle voices in the wind”), Ed’s foot-stomping just really adds something special to the song. As mentioned in other reviews, he uses that 2″ wood platform beneath his feet and boots with rather thick soles to play the ground percussively. He uses 1-2-3 beat, tapping on every other measure during the guitar interlude, and while he sings the first couple of lines, then as the line crescendos, he clomps his foot more frequently to add to the build. It’s just a neat touch.

Ed got the mandolin on for Rise, talking about how it was a great instrument to make friends with, but way too expensive. It’s “better to have cheap friends”.

More random shouting, and while he remained diplomatic about it, it seemed a little off-putting. Someone shouted “Walter Payton!” from the balcony, and Ed responded with slight frustration “yeah, I got it.” He went on to say that the trouble with the football jersey is that it’s too f*cking hot. He took it off, revealing a navy blue Police Outlandos D’Amour T-shirt underneath. George brought him his red white and green flannel shirt which he put on. Flannel *is* absorbent.

Ed had a tech get him a cigarette, and he told us that “my little brother went to school here for a while”. A couple of people shouted the names “Jason!” and “Mike!”. Ed got a hint of a grin as more names came, and said yes, I come from a big family. He got some words that read S.B on the top of the page from an 8 ½” x 11″ spiral bound notebook. He blew up the smoke, and I forgot the motivation for the line but he said he was just playing a character, this is the part where the character stops for a smoke. He said when his brother was going to school here, he noticed something about him and his friends, that they speak in initials. And this “before all that LOL bullshit”. So he wrote a little something about his brothers Santa Barbara experience called S.B and read it to us! The first few lines of the poem ended in UCSB, IV, DP, TA….talked about driving up the coast…Jack Johnson on the radio, didn’t get a ticket because it makes me drive slow….a mention of Devo, something about Montecito (a Cali town). The “refrain” of the song was “Hey Mom and Dad, don’t worry about me, I’m here digging in and I’ll get my degree. The future is serious, but do I have to be? I’m happy to be learning right here by the sea.” [It was a real happening man, a poetry reading Daddy-O! (snap your fingers in coolness). It was the cigarette that leant the ambiance.]

Before Goodbye, Ed got Luke (the Tulule uke), and mentioned that one of the papers said it was an electric ukulele. He wanted to point out that it wasn’t electric, it was just an acoustic with a plug in it. “It’s something about science”, something about reverberation.

A picture of our old pal Luke is here:


After he put on the black Fender tele, Ed gestured to it and said “THIS is an electric ukulele.” He dedicated You’re True to a “special young couple”. No one else cheered, so he commented they should appreciate that they are the only special couple.

Harmonica on for Drifting and Hide Your Love. As he did in Berkeley (WHICH I forgot to mention, sorry), Ed prefaced Hide Your Love Away by saying it was from the movie I Am Sam, starring Sean Penn. [Shame on me for further backtracking, but in Berkeley he said there were 2 songs left to choose from for inclusion on the soundtrack and Ed said "I'll take that one!" and that someone called the song Lennon's Dylan song. But I digress.] Someone shouted something in Spanish, and Eddie answered immediately “muy bien gracias” and “como se llama”. He said someone told him there was going to be a writer from the Il Mexicano newspaper in attendance tonight and he thought that was a cool thing. Ed commented on the “beautiful fucking building”. This next song gives all you “boisterous people” this is your chance to sing. On the last chorus, and sorta loud singing, Ed said “I’m listening”, engendering more volume. After a repeat, he said “In Spanish!” which no one did, but it made us laugh, then “Uno Mas!”

After these songs, Thumbing My Way and Picture In a Frame were on the set list but NOT PLAYED. Dangit! [While I'm at it, when I was raping the set list with my eyes, I noticed I'm Open and Man Of The Hour were sandwiched in between Dead Man and Setting Forth, and also were not played].

Trouble and Forever Young were lovely, the latter introduced as being for the young ones. But that it works for the older ones too. More sing-along to the debut of Tom Petty’s anthemic I Won’t Back Down. Porch was suited to the continued boisterousness, and an the crazy guitar jam before the last verse got the crowd even more riled. Ed went a little nutty, shaking his head and spitting in a spray before the final words (glad I wasn’t *that* close). He got up after, waved and went right off. Brief break, and back on again for Society with the lovely Liam Finn. I LOVED the ending as the two went in to an extended acoustic jam. They enjoyed how well the two guitars blended together and ran with it.

Liam left, and of course, more shouting. A woman called “I love you Eddie Vedder!” Without hesitation Ed said “what’s your name?” She answered Christine, and he asked her her last name and other people started yelling stuff. Ed complained, amiably mind you, that these men wouldn’t let a woman talk. So she finally said her last name, but she was too far back and he didn’t hear her say “Fiero”. So he just said “I love you too.” It was sweet. Anyone know Christine Fiero, lol?

A couple more sing-alongs: Lukin, and the lovely Ben Harper came out and sat down to join Ed for No War. Fog from a fog machine floated out from stage right, and Ed commented “someone smoking back stage.” In keeping with the Chicago Bears theme, I thought it interesting that Ben’s headband was a wide knit one that said “BEARS” on it.

Another song omission after No War – Arc (no way the raucous crowd would have handled it, methinks).

Liam, Eliza Jane and Ed – and later Ben again – donned the lab coats and launched into a vibrant version of “Hard Sun” to close out the show. The speaker stacks are suspended stage right and left, and song was *so* vibrant in fact that while Ed was sitting strumming the hell out of the guitar, paint started to peel from the ceiling above his head! First is was a couple of large flakes, then in little bits – it looked like it was snowing.

Shortest show of the 4 I’ve seen so far, only 110 minutes. About as long as it took you to read this novel of mine.

April 12, Los Angeles, CA, Wiltern Theatre

Saturday night at the Wiltern. Thought I was thrilled enough being in the building, but felt supremely so to be in Row 3 today. Ed came out wearing his blue plaid suit jacket over his blue T, gray long sleeve button-down and jeans, and band-aid across the back of his right hand. Though he looked a little tired, his playing seemed no worse for it. After Walking The Cow, for which people had remained standing, Ed said “we’re going to be here a while”, and the nice thing about playing these kinds of places is that we can sit and get comfortable and enjoy the beautiful room (and I’ve forgotten what else), adding “that’s why I put on the jacket”. People then sat down.

After Dead Man, Ed told us that “a number of these songs are from films”, and that that was from a film called “Rugrats Go To Prison” (I SWEAR he really did say that). He was sitting having his coffee and reading the paper earlier that day, had the TV on and there was a Triathlon on; and figured “since I wasn’t gonna be working out”, I’d watch them do it. While watching, a commercial came on for a Christian CD called “Songs of Faith” (his voice was a question mark and he made a scrunchy face like he wasn’t sure), and had a song on it called “God Is In Control”. He said he figured out the chords, and it went something like – and then he played a snippet of it on the acoustic, repeating the song title a few times. He said it was a rough paper today, I mean “there was a lot of brutal shit. Airplanes, nobody can fly, no one can get along in ANY part of the country” but…”God is in control.” He’s doing kind of a shitty job. Ed talked about another song on the disc called “Limit Yourself”, and then proceeded to sing his imagined version of the song “Limit Yourself, don’t think independently, Limit yourself don’t try to be different…” and said the disc was “paid for by the people who also support John McCain. God is in control… He mentioned that we should take responsibility for our own actions, having an imaginary conversation. “‘Who packed your ‘chute?’ ‘God’. ‘Did you check it?’ ‘No, God is in control’.” Well let me know what he looks like because “you’re gonna be seeing him real soon.”

Masters of War was delivered with much fire and dynamic; Ed’s voice was so powerful when he sang “for threatening my baby” that he leaned back off the mic so as not to overpower the intensely strummed acoustic. In the guitar interlude, he did this neat thing where he slid his fingers up to a high fret and did a little high string “plink” a couple of times; it just added a level of texture to the playing that kinda thrilled me. His eyes narrowed with anger as he delivered the line “I hope that you die”, and the word “die” was nearly a whisper. The delicateness juxtaposed with the building crescendo that peaks at songs end was remarkable. Lovely. After it, Ed kind of did a little body shudder and said “I got that in early, got it out of the system.

For I’m Open and Man Of The Hour, Ed is playing this small scale dark wood guitar; I think it might be a Little Martin like this one (23″ scale? Makes sense to me. Synchronicity.)

At the end of MOTH, Ed delivered the final “goodbye for” in an extended and finally faltering voice, taking a little pause before saying “now” and playing the song out. (Choir geek that I am, if it had been written in sheet music form, there have been a fermata over “for”, lol.). Our boy launched into “Setting Forth”, and I think I heard him say “let’s go now” off mic. The song ended with a clunker chord and he winced a bit, but Ed immediately repeated the chord twice to correct it. He went on to explain that “there’s a room up there” and he waved his hand behind him, gesturing backstage right and up. He said he was reading the paper and having more coffee “it was a long paper” and Ed heard a voice coming through the window, and it was “my brother’s voice” so he got up to look out and smacked his forehead on part of the window. So if there are any mistakes, ” (I) blame my brother.” He added that “that’s what older brothers do” “we guilt” them.

Ed’s accomplished and confident guitar playing and was no more evident than on Guaranteed. The song has this beautiful, crisp finger-picking and gentle delivery that had me rapt. This arpeggiated strum during the line “I’m alive” was absolutely lovely. During No Ceiling, the crowd singing was audible, and it made Ed smile a bit.

George Webb came out and talked to Ed briefly. I have to take a minute to reiterate a bit about the stage, that Ed’s stage configuration is kind of in a V that he sits in the middle of. As mentioned in other notes, it has an open lyrics suitcase to Ed’s right, Corona box with kick pedal left at his feet, Teac 2-track reel-to-reel tape recorder on a table to the left of that, then to Ed’s right, slightly behind on the Ed on the same table is a ring-bound notebook and the set list on a music stand, and something else I noticed the other night, a framed picture of a young shirtless Native American man with a coyote-skin headdress on….I think it *may* be a picture of a young Crazy Horse, but I can’t say for sure. So Ed’s chair is on this very slightly elevated wooden platform, at the widest part of the V and all the guitars are brought in at various times by George at the “peak” of the V setup. Oh and the bat wings are on an amp near the peak of the V as well.

So as I was saying, George came out, talked to Ed and set up a microphone to Ed’s left next to the 2-track. An unrecognized-by-me man came out, and said when the Golden Globes were cancelled this year because of the Writer’s Strike, Eddie missed out on being presented with his award, so “by absolutely no authority invested in me by the Hollywood Foreign Press” here it is, Golden Globe winner for Best Original Song from a motion picture from the movie Into The Wild! By the end of his little speech, the fella was shouting us into a frenzy and the crowd were on their feet. The whole time Ed was listening to the guy talk, he got more and more embarrassed; he was smiling of course, but cradling his guitar tighter and tighter; his forehead wrinkled, eyes squinted and face scrunched up. Finally he spun around in his chair so his back was to the audience. After a moment of applause, Ed got up, put his suit jacket back on and stood to give a speech. “I’d like to thank the writers for being on strike when they gave this away” so I didn’t have to “get out of the sun on the North Shore.” I was “busy writing songs”, and surfing, and “my shorts were still wet” when I got the call that we’d won this, so thank the writers for “not having to get dressed up.” He then went to the bat wing, sat the Golden Globe in the center of the wings, quickly took off his jacket and tossed it dramatically to the floor stage right.

Ed launched into Far Behind vigorously, and seemed to enjoy the crowd singing along on parts of Rise. Ed appears the proper folk singer with a foot resting on one of the stool legs for Millworker. I noticed the lights more tonight, there are four pairs of stage lights shining down on the backdrops. During Millworker, the lights are lit green (the song is about working in a factory making money for “the man”, so green seems appropriate). The scorching acoustic guitar solo on the end of this song is stupefying to me. Our boy, while stomping boots on the platform to create a rhythm, his whole body feeling the song, uses the round of his hand below his index finger to pound on the scratchplate between strums. It’s a joy to watch, and people really go crazy for it.

Luke is brought out, green gels remain on the lights in keeping with the subject of the song, and Ed introduces Soon Forget as “the first song I ever wrote on the ukulele.” Lines from the last verse were sung first, and a few people laughed the ha ha ha ha’s along with as “the townsfolk.” I feel dopey for forgetting, but I think Broken HeartEd featured red lights (red *is* for the heart, after all), and a beautifully held note on the word “heart” at the end.

Back to the paper again, and Ed said that “one of the things that jumped out” that he read was about American Idol, then someone yelled out something about their favorite American Idol and Ed said with a very apologetic expression, well, you better “get ready because I think I’m about to insult you.” He related a story about how a carpet company fielded 10,000 calls an hour or something like that because their phone number is 2 digits off from one of the numbers to vote for a favorite American Idol, they got something like 240,000 people who misdialed. So it proves a lot of people watch American Idol, and lot of people “that watch it are idiots”. Some cheers (from me and my seatmate, neither of whom have seen American Idol once, no offense to anyone). Ed added “that’s the end of my story”, to more chuckles.

Out around the campfire for Driftin’, stage light gels turned to blue (maybe for a dark starry night? I don’t know what made me notice the lights more tonight, but I did). Before the little guitar interlude and harmonica bit, Ed snuck in a quick “all right now” before blowing on the tin sandwich. It was downright countrified-I felt like saying yee-ha. More sing-a-long for Hide Your Love, and the cool body language of Ed leaning back from the microphone and nodding to us all got an easy response, singing from floor to upper balcony. The man is gifted at looking to all areas of the place to draw people in. Charismatic genius.

Our boy said something that I can’t remember, but whatever it was, it elicited some buy in the Mezzanine to shout a really long string of unintelligible words (he kind of sounded like the Warner Bros. Tasmanian Devil to my ears). When the guy stopped, without hesitation and with a look on his face as though he had taken a hit from a huge joint, Ed nodded and said “Fuck yeah”. When the laughter died down, and he spoke about a guy who’s here tonight who “meant a lot to us a group”. Ed said that a movie that meant a lot to him over the years was Harold and Maude, and the music meant a lot to him and he remembers seeing it in 7th or 8th grade and wanting a soundtrack, and there wasn’t one, so he made his own. He added that finally someone put out a soundtrack after many years, and that person is here tonight, Cameron Crowe. (Mr. Crowe didn’t make an appearance, just got a shout out and many cheers from the crowd!)

Ed said Cameron put the soundtrack out on vinyl, and made hand motions representing an imaginary record he was holding, like he was sliding hands across one top and bottom corner, then flipping them to the opposite top and bottom corners. Hard to describe, hopefully you get what I mean. [ By the way, it was in January of this year that Cameron's Vinyl Films company put out the Harold and Maude soundtrack, limited 2500 copies on vinyl only]. Ed said he was “deeply honored, more than *this*”, gesturing toward the Golden Globe, to have Cameron’s help in putting out Into The Wild on vinyl. He made more hand motions, making the square like about 5 times, and said “this is the international symbol for vinyl, often mistaken for vogueing”. He thanked Cameron for Singles, and for finding a way to “filter us money when we needed it.” Me and Jeff were broke, so Cameron found a way to filter us money, Jeff got 5 to 8 hundred dollars for the use of his shorts and orange tights, and I got 5 to 8 hundred dollars for Matt Dillon’s guitar lessons. Ed immediately adopted a slightly confused look and began impersonating Matt Dillon, complete with pretty damned good voice. [Forgive the paraphrasing, I think I got most of it]:

Dillon voice: Eddie, what do you like there, Fender or Gibson, what do you think?

Ed voice (quieter): Well, I like the Telecaster.

Dillon: (urgently) What do you like, do you like Italian food or do you like Chinese food?

Ed voice: I think I like Italian

Dillon: Blondes. Do you like blondes?

Totally hysterical impression of Matt Dillon trying to create Cliff Poncier for Singles, I reckon.

In keeping with talk of Harold and Maude, Trouble was played next. I haven’t mentioned the neat super fast slide up the guitar neck and strum Ed does before “let me go there” that makes the guitar sound like it’s getting hit with a reverberating hammer. He enjoys the heck out of playing this one, swaying back and forth on his stool. Switching to the second Harold and Maude tune, he pulled the lyrics out of the suitcase, and I could see that all the songs he plays regularly are on thin poster board, or something similar, with lyrics taped on or written on and reinforced with duct tape, some silver, some white, with titles written across the top of the tape. (GOD, just for what it’s worth, I do realize that it’s sad that I just typed that and that it is pretty over-the-top obsessive, but I observe what I observe and I figure if you’re reading this, you’re a little over-the-top too. I really do get massively into the show and let the music carry me away, I just feel so privileged to be at these shows and want to share what it’s like. Onwards.).

Getting the banjo on for one more from Harold and Maude, “another sing-a-long” Ed tells us before “If you wanna sing out sing out”. Someone yelled something from the mezzanine, and Ed immediately said to the rest of us “never invite your psychotherapist to a show.” They pick at you and “try to fuck with your focus.” He pointed to the voice and said “You’re fired!” More yelling, and Ed said “I didn’t hear you. I’m perfectly well adjusted,” thank you. “I told you, you’re fired!” I think, though he was perfectly diplomatic, Ed finally found a way to shut up the people who are yelling shit at shows. After that, I heard a lot of people shushing each other.

Another brilliant touch of keeping the crowd involved – one more sing-a-long for I Won’t Back Down. One more example of the lighting guy Dan McDonough being fecking brilliant – I think he plays the lights like a piano. There was a gradual fade up of the white lights to draw us in on the chorus, and when we weren’t singing as fervently as we might have, Ed leaned back and said “What?” and up came the lights stronger for us to belt out “Heeeeeeeeeey Baby. There ain’t no easy way out…”. Porch brought it all home to mama after that.

Back for an encore, Ed spoke about the last time he was in the beautiful Wiltern, namechecking Jack Black, Kyle Gass, Will Ferrell, Beck, Dave Grohl, Josh Homme some comics at the Hurricane Katrina benefit. “Chris Rock”. Ed said, Chris Rock was there, and “I think it was Martin Luther King Day” and Chris said…and Ed began to impersonate him – [yet another impression (!)] saying in a modified Chris voice “what the hell am I doing here with a bunch of white people? I should be home f*cking a white woman!” to much extended laughter. After that impersonation, Ed said, “(so I guess) Sorry Matt” and thank you Chris.

He paused after that, about to introduce Liam, saying “I was going to say something about f*cking, but I’m not.” He then brought out a “great young man” Liam Finn, and as soon as he sat down, Liam said “that’s okay Eddie, I’m really great at f*cking.” and Ed responded “you do do a lot of things good at once” and raised his arm up to, um, squeeze an imaginary breast, and at the same time had his hand down lower to finger an imaginary….guitar volume knob, yeah, that’s it…. Society was lovely with another little extended jam at the end, and Liam stayed out and joined Ed on Throw Your Arms Around Me. Liam took Verse 1, Ed took the higher lead part on chorus 1, Ed took verse 2 (kiss you in 165 places tonight). Nice trade offs.

Ed spoke about (long known to all of us from Body Of War) Tomas Young, explaining that he is a soldier who went to Iraq, lost his facilities from the chest down and now he can’t even cough. Intense stuff he had to deal with daily, how our country call our soldiers heroes, then when they come back from Iraq give them nothing. He wanted us to sing, so “I’m going to give you your own mic.” And he went and put one on the edge of the stage for us.

After a very moving and intensely beautiful Arc, another encore break. To introduce Growin’ Up, Ed said “his friend Michelle is here tonight”, and that they went to see Bruce Springsteen together many years ago, and “of course it was great” but he didn’t play Growin’ Up, so Ed went back to the hotel to record a version of it for her, only the tape got stolen before he had a chance to give it to her. So he was going to do it for her tonight. [I assume this is Michelle Anthony, and the tape was in his shit that got stolen backstage in Sweden in June 1992, but that's just a guess] Liam and his cohort Eliza Jane Barnes once again came out for Hard Sun. The fog machine weren’t working very well, but I think I FINALLY got what the fog machine is about….the blue sky/cloud backdrop comes up during this Hard Sun (it’s on an ocean horizon, by the way), and I think the fog is supposed to represent clouds to put us in the in the sky!

While thinking of backdrops, the tent backdrop is not a camping tent like I thought. It looks like a sideshow tent or performance tent…it’s beige canvas colored, with a circus tent-like “roof” with scalloped edge and a couple of flags. There are side views of speakers painted on, a hat stand with a few hats painted on. It’s like the tent is painted on the backdrop, and the painted flaps of it have been opened up and we can see that a show is about to be on.


April 13, Los Angeles, CA, Wiltern Theatre

Sitting directly to the left of all the Guest List people, and it *is* LA, so I quickly noticed Ben Harper, Laura Dern, Meg Ryan, John Doe and (dreamy sigh) Stewart Copeland drummer of The Police. Another pal noticed Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady. Ed, clad in yellow T-shirt with surfboard outlines, brown and white plaid flannel and white corduroy pants, told us “don’t mind me I’m just (getting settled) making myself at home for a second.” Walking The Cow has been a pretty darned consistent opener through the tour, though tonight my seatmate and I were amused at the first chorus lyrical change “I’m WATCHING the cow.” Dang that song is tenderly delivered and lovely….the “lucky staaaaaaaaaar” at the end was really extended long.

I guess it’s a little late in the party to explain the syntax of these notes, but to avoid getting smacked around by those that may remember it differently than I did, I felt it fair to say that when I’m describing what Ed is saying, I only put quotes around the words I’m pretty damned sure are verbatim. The rest is as close as I can paraphrase without putting words in his mouth or misinterpreting my scribbles in the dark. I also must admit to feeling pretty dorky that my seats at other shows and overall overwhelmedness at being here have caused my perception to be warped about the thing I was calling a wooden platform on which Ed was stomping his feet. I thought the whole thing was under his feet and stool, but tonight I had a frontal view (I’d been off to sides other nights) and I see that it is just a large boxy platform in front of him. Pardon my misjudgment. I noticed it more tonight with a straight on view and the fact that he didn’t use it nearly as much this evening. But other than that, no apologies, kids. I sees what I sees, and I hears what I hears.

So finally tonight, 3 shows from the end of the tour, the incessant din of people-calling-things-out-at-shows was addressed heavily by our singer; Ed reasoned with the crowd after WTC telling us “don’t get overly rambunctious”. He reckoned that behavior was better than the typical LA crowds who sit like stumps at shows like they are “too cool for school.” “Have (some) manners”, he suggested, respect your neighbors, but with the hint of a knowing smile, said “most of all have some respect for the person on the stage.” Ed explained that “I’m a father now”, and “don’t make me have to use the Magic Word.” Now “shut the fuck up. Please.” He told us he’d liven things up later, but for now…this is a lullaby and went in to Around The Bend.

I noticed that the bat wings have a new body: the Golden Globe award Ed got the night before. It’s wrapped in a black Rat Sound tank top (or somesuch) with the logo facing font, and was sitting in the middle of the bat wings so it looked like a bat body. Cute. Also noticed that the MR on the reel-to-reel (and also sticker on the Corona kick drum box and I think on the banjo?) looks to be Marky Ramone logo stickers. They look like this, without the Marky Ramone wording across them:

Of course, dumbasses were still calling shit out, but it was cut down some. Dad reprimanded us: “I’m using my manners….” kind of raising his eyebrows like a teacher. The “don’t yell shit at me” speech really set people to shushing each other a lot more – self-policing was a nice result of Ed’s earlier plea. The stage was lit with an orange glow for the verses of I Am Mine, then during the chorus slowly transitioned to white lights. Prior to Dead Man, Ed explained that he’d be playing a lot of songs from movies. Before the song, he told us a story about hanging out in Santa Barbara with his brother the other night and took out a Zippo lighter and noticed his own thumbprint on the shiny chrome, a perfect clear thumbprint. He remembered being in class at school and drawing waves incessantly in his notebooks… Ed said “I wish I learned more” history, but I “got real good at drawing waves.” Now he’s still doing waves but now he uses oil paint. “Same shit (only it takes) longer to draw.” So back to the lighter, on it was his thumbprint and he studied it and saw – and he kept looking at his thumb while he was talking – “a perfect fucking wave” it looked like something like “what’s that painter…(Edvard) Munch?” [FYI He painted "The Scream" ] “Huge wave” with “backspray and clouds”….Ed sounded so enthusiastic and incredulous when he said “It was there the whole fucking time!” and the crowd laughed heartily. He pressed an imaginary Zippo to his chest and encouraged us to press a lighter to somewhere on our bodies and “look at yourselves. You might find something.”

More sporadic shouting, mostly burly male voices, and someone called out a phrase that elicited a response from Ed that he had the “same shit as you, (it’s just a) different color.” I’m pretty amazed that he really didn’t lose his temper at us – It was clearly frustrating. After Thumbin’ and Man of the Hour, Ed told us “after this we’ll step it up”. The growing frustration was addressed again. I’m “not saying please” and I’m “gonna be strict” and one other reprimand, then he said “(Now just) take your hand, and grab your penis.” And Ed demonstrated, grabbing himself and , added “I don’t appreciate that I’ve been driven to say the word penis in front of a large group of people.” After that, he said nothing between Soon Forget, Guaranteed and No Ceiling. After he started No Ceiling and was playing it completely wrong, he stopped and said “What the fuck? I fucked it up.” “It’s a 75-second song” and I fucked it up. He said he wasn’t gonna play it, and the crowd encouraged him to, and he relented, but if he fucked it up again he wouldn’t play it. He had a little glitch in the chords (and maybe spaced on the words) so just kept strumming the same chord for a but until it came to him and continued with “but for landing I’ve been, landing I’ve been cleared.”

The next story, Ed told us getting ready for the tour he was “cleaning out my closet.” Uttering the sentence, he realized how it sounded and teased “You just KNOW another exciting story is coming….(that) got me on the edge of my seat.” He said he was cleaning out things, looking at lyrics, and found a newspaper article that he had cut out about a Door-To-Door vacuum cleaner sales man who donated a kidney. Ed pulled it out to read excerpts from it. [Here's part of the ABC.com story from October 11, 2007]:

Time was running out for Paul Sucher as he sat in his Twin Falls, Idaho, home. He was in desperate need of a kidney and already was receiving dialysis three days a week. So when vacuum cleaner salesman Jamie Howard showed up at his door to entice him into purchasing a Kirby vacuum, it may have been the last thing he wanted. But then Sucher’s girlfriend, Andi Wofford, explained how the couple was drowning in medical bills and she came up with a simple solution. “I jokingly said to him, ‘You donate a kidney and we’ll buy a vacuum,’” Wofford said.
[After calling his wife to consult, Mr. Howard agreed to donate]. “We were almost a perfect [Type O blood] match,” Howard said. In August, Howard successfully donated his kidney to Sucher at a Denver hospital.
Several weeks after donating his kidney, Howard isn’t quite back to 100 percent. “I’ve lost a lot of weight. I still can’t be as physically active as I was before,” he said, “but that is a small price to pay.” And the experience has caused Howard to become an advocate for organ donation. “You have two kidneys, you only need one,” he said. “There are a lot of things people can do in life and afterward to help others live,” he added.
While Sucher said he is happy Howard donated a kidney, he and Wofford didn’t totally fulfill their end of the deal.
They never did purchase that vacuum.

Ed said it was so astonishing, and the punchline: “I didn’t know door-to-door salesmen still existed!” An imagined conversation: “Honey, we need a new vacuum cleaner.” “Well, if we wait a year or two someone will (stop by).” Something was said about Dick Cheney dying, the context of which was completely lost to me. Rise was lovely, and people seem to really enjoy singing on it. The passion-filled guitar at the end of Millworker was markedly different to me without the percussive foot stomping that have been featured at other shows.

Someone yelled “thank you!” and Ed said “You’re welcome.” Someone else yelled “Are you high?” and our boy replied “Not yet” in a slightly drawn out voice. Perfect segue to Goodbye, Ed said when he wrote this next song he was so far down that even “getting high wouldn’t get me to normal.” He spoke again of how the ukulele was the perfect instrument, always happy. “I’m gonna take you down with me.” A conversation with the uke, recreated by Ed, followed:

Uke: (enthusiastically) How’s it going?

Ed: Fuck you.

Uke: It’s gonna be okay.

Ed: Fuck you. Don’t you love it when horrible shit happens, your friends say “I just can’t imagine.”

Uke: I just can’t imagine.

Ed: FUCK you.

Blue lights during this song….perhaps to accompany the blues he had when he wrote it.

Before Soon Forget, Ed said this next one “propagates the myth that” the more successful the man, the more miserable, adding “not that it doesn’t need propagating….” Instead of green lights, the stage was lit red. Ed sang “we’re all whistling”, and people did, so he repeated the line again and more people whistled. Before Driftin’ Ed said this one is “not from Into The Wild.” Gods, I love the live bit right before the harmonica solo where he sneaks in an “all right now”. It just seems so folky and cool.

Our singer tells us next that these songs “all have something to do with Sean Penn.” Dead Man Walking starred him, Into The Wild was directed by him and this next song was taken from I Am Sam. So “I take my orders from Sean Penn.” He said he just watched I Am Sam again the other week and it was really a great movie and he just met the director, who is here tonight Jessie Nelson. Some moron yelled “Spiccoliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii” to which Ed responded in an understated stoner voice “Yeeeaaaah.” Prior to launching into Hide Your Love Away, Ed said this is a “beautiful song. I can say that because of course I didn’t write it.”

Prior to Picture in a Frame, Ed tells us “Love is great” and “Early love. Who doesn’t love a puppy? But when that dog starts getting’ old…” He also spoke of “long love” and about getting there. Before Trouble, Ed said “I get it”, seemingly in response to someone who was consistently saying the same something.

We did the coolest thing after Trouble. Ed said “Can I ask you a favor?” He said this is “my friend Kevin” here (the famous Mr. Shuss, PJ’s archivist and Ed’s merchandiser for the solo tour). Kevin had his camera on, and Ed said I would guess that probably 110% of you are here because of Pearl Jam. He said there was someone very special who is part of his life and always supported me, a woman named Margaret Vedder, my Grandma, and she’s turning 90. My uncle has been doing a great job taking care of her, and he’s putting together a little something for her birthday so I’d like to ask your help to sing to her. She’s pretty proud of her grandson, so it would mean a lot. If you could get out your lighters and put them on after we sing, then I’m gonna have her make a wish and when I tell you, we’ll blow them out at once. So can you do that? Cheers from everyone, and without asking, everyone stood up for Grandma! Ed reiterated that her name is Margaret so we’d get it right, Kevin started the tape and Ed said “Hey Gram, this is why I haven’t been to see you recently, but Happy Birthday.” We all sang, lighters came on all over the place, and Ed said “Make a wish” then turned to us and nodded and said “Blow” and all the lighters went off almost all at once. Ed wrapped up the filming, saying “Okay Gram. See you hopefully soon.” It was pretty damn swell. Ed thanked us and said he couldn’t have tried that with last night’s crowd. He then introduced Porch by saying “Let’s get weird.”

Our boy came out for Encore 1, said “Thank you” and “I won’t be speaking ill of you until I get to San Diego” paused and said “Fuck San Diego.” He brought out Liam Finn, handing him his guitar and the two appeased a balcony schmendrick who kept yelling “SOCIETY!!!” by playing the song. Liam remained onstage for Throw Your Arms Around Me, and prior to the tune, Ed turned to him and discussed how everyone thought that “your Dad wrote the next song”, telling the uneducated in the crowd that Liam’s Dad is (Split Enz/Crowded House legend) Neil Finn. Liam said “I thought he wrote it too” until he was about 13, and he was “crushed” when he found out he didn’t. Lyrical change “265 places”. (Ooooh, 100 more than last night!).

Ed made a little theatre out of the incessant (yet markedly calmer than other nights) yelling. I didn’t hear the voice call out, but Ed said “Who am I voting for?” I think you should keep your political opinions to yourself, who am I to influence? All while the Obama ’08 banner was being carried across the stage of course, to much hooting and hollering. Lukin was dedicated to “the greatest one man band that ever was, Klark Kent.” This dedication was extraordinarily titillating to this longtime Police fan [who still owns Stewart Copeland's 10" green vinyl solo EP put out under the same name in 1980]. Could I love Ed more for namechecking it? Nope. Ed didn’t seem to be too happy with Arc, shrugging at the end of it and taking some of the tracks off at the end before letting it play over the applause.

Encore 2: Curtains pulled back to reveal Jack Irons sitting at the drum kit. The two of them do Last Kiss, passionately sung by crowd. Someone in the front row held up a sign, and Ed took it and read it. While he didn’t mention the name of the group, he said some fans got together and did some things, I don’t know what, sold T-shirts and things and raised money in my name for the Surfrider Foundation, and they raised $3800 plus dollars, almost 4 thousand. “That’s the kind of thing that make you feel like you’re doing something”. The name of the group Ed didn’t mention? The brilliant Wishlist Foundation, of course! www.wishlistfoundation.org [Just because JR and I happen to be on the Board of it doesn't mean we're biased!]

Before introducing the next guest, Ed said this is one of those people …”are they great because they are talented? Or are they talented because they are great? I have no idea, because I am neither” but ladies and gentlemen, Ben Harper. The two shared a vibrant version of No More, then Ben stayed for Hard Sun with Liam and Eliza Jane, once again. Much cheering, a wee mini-break then Jack came back out and Ben brought out his guitar and the three of them did All Along The Watchtower! The three of them held hands and bowed, Ed then went to the front and shook a lot of hands, as he has been. I think last night he went all the way across the front row to shake hands with people, maybe did a lot of that tonight as well. He walked toward the side stage, pantomimed drinking a beverage (as in, it’s time to get drunk!) and waved goodbye.

I know I at one point this night, and maybe it was after the fuckups in No Ceiling, Ed said “this is why we don’t do bootlegs anymore.” Maybe someone can help me remember, but I just thought it was important to mention that he said it.

One more show for me, someone is going to have to step up for San Diego 2. Thanks for hanging in there with me, kids.


April 15, San Diego, CA, Spreckels Theater

San Diego #1. Last show for me, sadly. Great Ten Club seating, one of many pairs of tickets we encountered that were split between 2 rows. I sat in row 5 to the left, directly behind my seatmate on the end of row 4, such a tiny main floor and well-staggered seats gave us perfect sightlines.

Spreckles Theatre. Built in 1912, holds 1500 people (okay, 1456 according to the San Diego Union Tribune) – the smallest venue of the tour, barring Kenyon Hall (those shows don’t count!) Beautiful old place with ornate statues, rococo art, marble foyer. Lovely. The music that has been played between Liam’s set and Ed’s has been old school Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits. San Diego gets something special. Tonight before Ed came out, a Bob-Dylan- crossed- with-Woody-Guthrie sounding, twangy and faster-paced cover version of Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town was loudly piped in. I’m told the artist is an African singer by the name Mburu. [I'd love to find out even more about this, thanks to a good pal for unearthing this much!] It took a minute to recognize what the song was, then as it slowly dawned on us all, some singing along could be heard. Ed came out at the perfect moment – right at “I changed by not changin’ at all…” He was kind of nodding his head and moving to the music, raising his eyebrows as though he were singing, but didn’t at first; he began slightly muttering the words, and then it really caught fire and everyone starting singing loudly “I just want to scream HELLOOOOOOOOO!” and Ed held up his hand and waved at us. We all loudly sang “My god it’s been so long, never dreamed you’d return” and the rest of the song. It was a great way to get the crowd involved and focused; I was hoping that would help people get their YaYa’s out and there would be less yelling tonight.

Walking The Cow has been a consistent opener, hasn’t it? Band-aid on the back of the strumming hand again. It’s such a great cover song, and it’s a pleasure to see it played on the creamy white Fender. During “circles”, Ed’s eyes were closed and he was shaking his head in a “no” motion, really into it.

Didn’t take long for the yelling to start, but people were shushing right away. Someone yelled “Welcome Home!” enthusiastically and Ed grabbed his tumbler of red Gatorade and raised it in a toast. He said he was depressed, and he appreciated any energy we’d give him. “I’ll take it. I’ll use it.” Well….”(depressed or ) hung over, not really quite sure” which. Our singer was up “really really late last night” drinking with an old friend and told us “my hair hurts right now” and if you could keep the yelling to a minimum so the noise doesn’t sound like “daggers into my septum.” Ed told us he was “excited to be back” and stayed up all night the night before. He said he was “never a mean drunk, but the day after….” and that “I’m gonna complain about a few things” but “let’s keep it peaceful in the meantime” and set into Around The Bend, which he played a little faster than I remember it being.

From the get go, the sound in the building was muddy and inconsistent and required constant adjusting. The guitar mic sound came up a little too loudly after Chorus #1; during the little guitar interlude, Ed got a little overenthusiastic with his playing and the cord came out of the guitar. At first I thought it was just the bad sound until I saw him grab it and stick it back in the guitar, hardly missing a beat.

I Am Mine featured a neat little pre-intro before the guitar intro started. Ed got so focused on the guitar playing at one point that he almost forgot to sing the last chorus and his head popped and found the mic just in time. “Kinda gettin’ it going here.” He told us, and said “if I fuck up because of this hangover”, I’m not gonna return the money. I’m gonna take it and put it to some good use… He was trying to nap around 4.30 or 5, feeling the affects of the late night and was awoken by a protest against cuts in education funding. “Taking funding away from education?” Ed seemed incredulous. At first he was upset at being woken up, then focused his “anger at Arnold Schwarzenegger directly”. He struggled for a minute to find the right words, then called the proposed funding cuts like being from “the last page of the Republican playbook”, taking away education funding to make people “dumb enough to vote for them.” So I’m going to “take your money and give and contribute to the demise” of the Republican party. “Compassionate conservative.” Ed muttered. “That’s like a freezing fire. Or a male chauvinist lesbian.” So the chuckles begin. “I’m depressed. (But) it’s okay. The pope has landed, and it’s all gonna be fine. Quick, get me to the Popemobile.” He then launched straight in to Dead Man; a neat single red-gelled light backlit Ed from above. Before “the hallways are all mocking me”, our boy once again played a lovely guitar interlude, accompanying it with scratchplate thumping and stomping on the stomp box (HEY I finally have a name for the amplified foot platform…it only took the whole tour to get to the bottom of it, more in a second). I just love how there is a whammy bar hanging there on the Fender, lonely, and Ed achieves the same sound effect by pressing high up the neck on a couple of frets and wobbling the guitar, spinning around in his chair as the finally quiets the instrument.

SO…. Bye the bye, the wooden platform on which Ed has been stomping his feet percussively throughout the tour is made from what is known as an Apple Box. It’s commonly much larger, and is widely used in the film industry to elevate props, scenery or people. This one has been cut down considerably for his use as an instrument, and is similar to one custom made for Bruce Springsteen. So on this film-inspired, theatrically-themed tour of his, Ed even has the movie world underneath his feet. Thanks again to my pal for finding this out.

I’m Open and Man of the Hour passed by nicely, more sporadic people calling out things, someone yelled “State of Love and Trust” to which Ed responded “State of Rum and Coke.” He went on to explain why he had been up so late the night before. One of his best friends moved down to San Diego from Seattle…driving down Ed remembered California it is indeed beautiful, you’re fortunate. So his best friend? The beloved Eric Johnson, Pearl Jam’s tour manager and go-to man for many years until he left to go work for Neil Young [FYI, Eric is the lovely man who appears naked on the Drop In The Park T-Shirt from the Magnuson Park show 9-18-92 ] So the two of them were up late drinking, and at one point in the evening, Eric starts telling Ed about the author Raymond Carver (a short story writer and poet who grew up in Washington State). Eric pulls one of 4 books out of his bookshelf, hands one to Ed, he opens it up, and inside it says “To Mr. Eddie Vedder….” Our boy looked at us with a grin of incredulity, and said “This is my book!” Eric had it for 10 years or so and was busted! Ed read us the inscription a nice note and phone number from someone named Lindsay Sandoval (I think that’s what he said) from Aspen, Colorado. “Eric is caught.” Ed says, and he was thinking that Lindsay probably “thinks I’m an ungrateful bastard” and “we’ve gotta call her now.” People cheered him on as though he meant to do it right then. He related that he and Eric tried twice, and there was no answer. The book inscription had a P.S. My brother Greg is a huge fan, blah blah and also included his number. Tried him, no answer either “When I woke up an hour ago.”

After No Ceiling, which Ed seemed slightly displeased with, he commented that the theatre was “a beautiful place, with some great makeout spaces” but that the “sound is shite.” After Guaranteed, someone shouted “Fuck the oscars!” and people applauded. Ed made a face and said “Like I give a shit.” Off with the brown plaid flannel shirt, and into Millworker, which had a slightly different ¾ time intro which I thought was cool. Our boy either had dry throat or just didn’t feel like swallowing, because before the middle eight, he let fly a spew of saliva that sprayed like a sprinkler head. This happened a few times throughout.

Next moronic audience suggestion, after Ed put on the mandolin for Rise? “Dirty Frank!” some loser yelled. Priceless condescending tone in Ed’s response: “That’s a GREAT idea. I will now play Dirty Frank on the mandolin.” Ed proceeded to slip in a few chords of the song just to tease us, then complained “that would qualify as a shitty suggestion. Thanks for letting me make fun of you.” He paused and added “Prick.” Before grinning cheesily. “I told you I was gonna get” mean. Someone yelled “mumble mumble Supertramp!”, and Ed said he thought they were calling out “Alexander Supertramp” an alias used by Christopher McCandless. “I don’t think he was asking for a song by Supertramp.”

Another story begins, Ed talked about coming down to the area on the tour bus in 1992, or ’93 or something to play a show. He and Eric were across the border, and got there and realized that he had left something on the bus, a T-shirt or lyrics or something, so Ed and Eric had to get a cab to take back across the border to get to the bus which had been parked in a Denny’s parking lot. They were having a hard time communicating with the driver, saying “diez minutos” meaning that’s how close the bus was to them. Ed was trying to think of something to say with his limited knowledge of Spanish, all he could think of was Cerrado… he said to the driver “Denny’s” but in an accent so it sounded like “Denise”. “Denise?” They finally get there, and the driver seemed a bit overwhelmed by the bus, pointing at Ed “You? Bus? Bus yours?” Ed answered “Kinda.” And the driver says in nearly plain English, “Does it have all the accoutrements?” Ed looks at Eric and says, “Did he just say accoutrements?” They both could see how impressed the driver was by the bus, said “fuck it” and took him on it and showed him around. The driver tells them it is his dream to drive a bus like this, to scattered “awwwws” in the crowd. Ed says about the driver “his name is Javier. We trained him and he drives our bus today.” Applause. Pause, then Ed adds, “Everything about that story was true” except the part about Javier working for us. “I just thought the story needed an ending!” Ed teased. “But I think about him” to this day. That devilish little storyteller!

For the uke song section, Ed said some of the songs were from “a little record of songs ” I never put out called “Songs To Kill Yourself By”. During the end of Goodbye, Ed shook his head in frustration at the still bad sound. After Hide Your Love Away, Ed introduced Picture In A Frame as being a song about “not hiding your love.” Oh, the rapture of a whispered and held “always will” at the end….dreamy sigh. Apparently the band aid was buggin’, because after the tune Ed tore it off, made a face and responded to the pain with a delayed “AH!”

After Trouble, someone inexplicably called out for “Jessie’s Girl.” Ed explained that “Even if I knew ‘Jessie’s Girl’”, let’s say I knew it, I probably wouldn’t….or if I knew “another Rick Springfield song” you’d lose all respect for me if I played it. Not a very good segue into the very dynamic Masters of War, but the song was powerful nonetheless. Ed is the master at the dynamics of this song, starting it out very quietly so it has someplace to go, his body coming alive as he uses the guitar and stomp box to build the song like a snowball rolling down the hill and building into an avalanche.

The next portion of our show defies logic. I still can’t quite believe it happened. So Ed starts talking about his looping sampler (I think it’s still the Gibson Echoplex Digital Pro sampler mentioned in an old Rumor Pit, not sure, but anyway…), telling us that is comes with some pre-recorded tracks, and some of it is “horrific shit” just “horrific.” He said he stumbled on to this “absolutely offensive” track, and would try something with it. He got a cigarette to set the mood (something was said about Smoking Kills, which he commented on) and started the track, which sounded just like the opening notes of Barry White’s “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little Bit More”. In a million years, this is the last thing I ever expected to hear. When Ed started doing a smooth, husky Barry White-esque spoken word over this track, I kinda lost my mind a little….I got a chunk of the words, but it was a bit overwhelming.

Oh Baby you look so fine

Oh baby when you look at me like that….

Why you got to be so….

I just wanna love you

I’m gonna lick you like an ice cream cone


(I know you wanna get with this mother fucker)

Awwww shit what’s that next to the bed baby

Is that a rope?

Is this shit about to get freaky baby?

(what are you making baby?)

I didn’t know you can make a noose

Are you gonna kill yourself?

Are you gonna kill me?


Where to go from here? A sing-a-along or two, I Won’t Back Down (featuring some rousing box-stompin’ on the choruses) and Porch.

Encore 1, Ed comes out and tells the story of how Joe Pepitone gets Mickey Mantle to smoke pot before a game at Yankee Stadium (“where the pope is gonna be”). Mantle is baked, benched, and put in the game at the bottom of the 9th inning as punishment. Mantle said there were 3 balls coming at me and I swung at the one in the middle. Naturally, as Ed told the story, a heckler yelled “Go Yankees!”, someone else said “Fuck the Yankees, go Red Sox” and a baseball related shout fest ensued. Ed said “there’s a fuckin’ riot over a baseball story?” Our kid finishes the story, talking about how Mantle strikes out and says that “those people had no idea.” The man talks about being up at 4:30 thinking about who he could call, and thought, “my friends in New Zealand!” So he called Liam’s Dad Neil Finn. Ed introduced Liam, calling him “so great, he’s just the best…” and here’s the “object of my affection.” Liam said yeah, I talked to Dad he asked me if Eddie has tried those hangover cures I gave him. Ed mentioned something about honey (and another ingredient) being the thing. The two blended on a lovely Society once more. Ed was trying to hand the guitar off to George Webb afterward, but the chord was so wrapped around his stool and tangled up in a side microphone that it became a slight ordeal; Ed said “Jesus!” then semi-angrily yanked the chord and knocked over the mic. He said “Jesus! What the fuck?”, finally disentangling the thing.

It’s so lovely and natural how Liam takes verse one of Throw Your Arms Around Me, sings lead on the first chorus to Ed’s high part, then on verse 2 and Chorus 2 they swap and Ed takes lead. How many places to be kissed? Ed couldn’t decide, so it came out 130…65. Liam left, someone shouted for Gremmie out of Control, and Ed slid his hands down the guitar neck, playing a surf guitar slide to tease us. Finally, appeasing a nightly call for it, Ed treated us to a lovely version of I Am A Patriot. I love when he sings “I was walking…with my boyfriend…he looked so fine.” You GO, boy. Something about that song, Ed is skilled at sending his gaze all around the room…upper balcony, mezzanine and floor, drawing people in. “Sing this with me” he says. A rousing Lukin is played, and it’s so fun at the end when he repeats the guitar chords (with fast stomps!) in double time. As if it wasn’t fast enough already. Show off.

Ed dons the lab coat for Arc…someone shouts Dr. Vedder, and Ed tells us about buying this book a few years back, he thinks at an old bookstore in Connecticut somewhere, a book by Dr. Henry C. Vedder, written in 1912 or somesuch called Chiropractic Gynecology. Ed says “Take a deep breath” and moves his hands like a mock speculum doing a gyno exam. He laughed and said he should have read more of it. A moving Arc ends Encore 1.

Encore 2, Ed says to end here and have a surf, no better way to wrap up the tour. No More is rousing, and he says that “I hope that all the ghosts of all the soldiers and Iraqi civilians” haunt this current administration for the rest of their days. He says there is nothing more sobering than meeting the mother of a slain soldier who got the news of her son’s death on a Sunday and watched CIA director George Tenet announce on a Monday that there were no Weapons Of Mass Destruction. Painful. “It’s our planet, take it back!” Ed pleads. A call of “Who ya votin’ for Ed?”, an assurance that he was keeping his opinions to himself and an appearance of the Obama ’08 banner make for a fun bit of theatre once again.

A rousing So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star, enthusiastically played and stomped by our singer, who had a hard time getting us to sing, but we caught on. Hard Sun again kept us all on our feet, and Ed kept playing a neat riff after the tape stopped. I felt a bit sad to be missing the last show, but can’t possibly feel sad after enjoying seven wonderful shows.

Orange County Register, by Ed’s feet
And here is a copy of the photo:

In one last desperate blast of my geekiness, since Berkeley I’ve kind of been on a mission from god to find out who the Indian is in the picture I’ve seen near Ed’s setlist on stage. My dear friend Michelle, lover of all things Native American, was sure she’d seen it before and unearthed it, for which I thank her deeply! [See, other people have Pearl Jam Disease too!]

It was taken by Native American historian Edward Sheriff Curtis, who worked on an exhaustive photographic documentation of Native American Peoples. The photo is in the archive of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois (what a coincidence), was taken in 1908 and is of an Arikara indian chief by the name of Bear’s Belly. Here is his story, and the story of how he got the bear skin:

Bear’s Belly or ku’nuh kana’nu was born in 1847 at Ft. Clark. His first war experience was at the age of nineteen he enlisted at Ft. Abraham Lincoln with Custer’s 7th Cavalry and was deployed to Black Hills country. During this campaign they ran into a small camp of Sioux where he was able to count (2) first coups and (1) second coup. Upon his return home Bear’s Belly fasted and cut skin offerings to a buffalo skull alter on the outskirts of the village. In the same year Bear’s Belly married and later became a member of the Bears medicine fraternity. To fulfill one of the needs of being a member he sought to get a bear skin. The following is a narration of his quest:

“Needing a bear-skin in my medicine-making, I went, at the season when the leaves were turning brown, into the White Clay hills. All the thought of my heart that day was to see a bear and kill him. I passed an eagle-trap, but did not stop: it was a bear I wanted, not an eagle. Coming suddenly to the brink of a cliff I saw below me three bears. My heart wished to go two ways: I wanted a bear, but to fight three was hard. I decided to try it, and, descending, crept up to within forty yards of them, where I stopped to look around for a way of escape if they charged me. The only way out was by the cliff, and as I could not climb well in moccasins I removed them. One bear was standing with his side toward me, another was walking slowly toward him on the other side. I waited until the second one was close to the first, and pulled the trigger. The farther one fell; the bullet had passed through the body of one and into the brain of the other. The wounded one charged, and I ran, loading my rifle, then turned and shot again, breaking his backbone. He lay there on the ground only ten paces from me, and I could see his face twitching. A noise caused me to remember the third bear, which I saw rushing upon me only six or seven paces away. I was yelling to keep up my courage, and the bear was growling in his anger. He rose on his hindlegs, and I shot, with my gun nearly touching his chest. He gave a howl and ran off. The bear with the broken back was dragging himself about with his forelegs, and I went to him and said, , I came looking for you to be my friend, to be with me always.’ Then I reloaded my gun and shot him . through the head. His skin I kept, but the other two I sold.”

Though I can only speculate what the significance is to Ed, maybe none, my pal Michelle found out from her research that “the Arikara were constantly at war with the Pawneee (notorious warrior tribe that is part of the Sioux family). From what I have read the Arikara were ill-natured and did not get along with anyone else. They were pretty much a lone tribe.” Hmmmm….Don’t come closer, or I’ll have to go….

Another pal is taking up the mantle for San Diego 2. See you in June, Camden to the end for me.

April 16, San Diego, CA, Spreckels Theater

[Kath wasn't in attendance at the second San Diego show, but a good friend stepped up to the plate with the following observations. Thanks to Kathy's Second Set of Eyes!]

The crowd seemed a bit rowdier/frat boyish than the previous night. They started in with the shouting as soon as Ed came out. After Walking the Cow, Ed was about to go into Around the Bend, but then he said something like I was going to wait until later to ask you to be quiet. He said that now was the quiet part, and that later would be the noisy part that he would open up for requests. He said something about if you were a fan of the current administration, you would be sick of him by the end of the night, and also said that he had a lot to say because he wasn’t going to have a microphone for another month.

Before he started I Am Mine, Ed spoke about how friends of his who had seen a few shows asked if he minded the people shouting during the songs. Ed said that he told them he didn’t really mind because he had good concentration. He then said that his friends kept asking him if he minded, and he realized that it might actually be taking away from the experience of the other people in the audience. This got a huge cheer. Ed then kept on talking, and people didn’t really get his point, so they kept shouting. The he said that if they had anything they wanted to say, if they wanted to come down and use the microphone, then they needed to practice, and be lucky enough to get in a band, then they needed to go on tour, and then he said you need to have people die at one of your shows, and how he has gone through some heavy shit. The room became completely silent. Opening up that wound made I Am Mine more powerful.

It was quiet between the next few songs. Ed then commented on how quiet it was, which people took as an invitation to start yelling again. There was one woman up on the balcony that kept yelling, and Ed called her a crazy woman, but then said not to put the light on her because it might be his mom. Later on in the show he asked her a question, I think maybe for a request, but she just shouted out something incoherent. Then some drunk guy yelled something, and he said that he would like to have a nice glass of wine, but that he had been sober this tour. The Captain of the ship needs to be sober. He then clarified that he had been sober during the shows. Later on when he took a drink out of his glass someone asked what he was drinking. Ed said that he had no idea, that when he came out the glass was there. He then said that he has different rituals for getting ready for these shows. He said that he always brushes his teeth before he comes out because the audience is so much closer. He said that he never brushes his teeth before a Pearl Jam show. He kind of laughed, and then asked if anyone knew what it tasted like to chug red wine right after brushing your teeth, which was the real reason he didn’t brush his teeth before Pearl Jam shows.

Before Millworker he talked about Save Trestles, and how it was nice to finally have a victory. He said that he had talked to some surfers who had been really involved in the campaign, and on the day of the hearing a bus full of the workers who would have built the road came to the hearing. The surfers were telling Ed that they had never thought about if the road wasn’t built that people would be out of work. But then the surfers started talking to the union members and they told the surfers that their boss had paid them to come picket the hearing. Ed then said that the businessmen only paid then for half the day, so they all left at lunch time. Before Soon Forget he said that it was about this businessman.

After Brokenhearted, Ed hugged his guitar, and then put it in the stand. When he sat back down he said you know you have a great mother when she pawns her wedding ring to buy your first guitar, he then pointed to the guitar, and said that’s it. Before he began the Harold and Maude songs he said that his mom took him to the La Paloma theater to see Harold and Maude when he was twelve. He mentioned that his mom was having one of those big milestone birthdays coming up, and he wanted us to sing Happy Birthday to her. He was looking around and didn’t see her, then a spotlight was shone on the box that she was sitting in. She stood up, and she got a standing ovation. It looked like she was very uncomfortable the whole time. He told her she could retire, and then said that he wasn’t going to have us sing, and that he really appreciated the standing ovation. He them asked who she knew to get such great seats, and that he hoped she didn’t have to give all of her birthday money to a scalper. He dedicated Forever Young to her.

After Chicago Liquor, Ed said that he played that just to see if we were still listening. He then said that he wanted to try something he had never done before, he said that he wanted the men and women to sing different parts, just like at Disneyland. He wanted the men to sing the low part (Let My Love Open the Door) with their manly voices, and he got the men to sing. Then he instructed the women to sing the oo oo oo part. The men were clearly louder than the women.

He introduced Emile Hirsch, and had him come out. Emile was showing everyone his stomach, I guess because people thought he starved to death. When Liam came out he talked about how they went surfing the other day, and he made them drive the tour bus down to the beach.

Ed asked how many people had been there the night before and heard the loop. After a bunch of people shouted out, he said that they were going to change it. It was now called Lucifer’s Theme, and he would be providing the voice of Satan. It was the same music as the night before, but the lights on stage were all red, and two people came out, one wearing what looked like a gorilla with horns mask, a Devil (portrayed by Eric Johnson) and one wearing a George Bush mask (portrayed by Kevin Shuss). They started dancing around in sort of a mating dance. Ed was saying things to Bush like why do you never come around anymore, and that he knew his father very well, that he met Condie a few times. The Devil and Bush went behind one of the speakers, you couldn’t really see the devil, but you could see Bush down on his knees and it looked like he was giving the devil a blow job. Then it looked like a can of silly string was sprayed up into the air as the product of the blow job. Then the Devil and Bush started to slow dance together, and as they left the stage Ed asked them to send in John McCain.

Before No More he played a snippet of Believe You Me. After Hard Sun, Ed had all the crew (wearing their lab coats) come out to the edge of the stage and take a bow.

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.

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