Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Just A Show – Pearl Jam in Hartford

by Jessica Letkemann on May 16, 2010

The following review of the May 15 Pearl Jam show at Hartford, CT’s XL Arena was written by Jessica just hours after the show and relayed by me the morning after. Just to give you some perspective, Jessica sent me this long review that she typed with her thumbs on her Blackberry, while driving back to New York City (well, she was the co-pilot, that is), and I’ve left it in all it’s raw unedited glory. Enjoy!  – JR

Courtesy of @dirtyfrankdahmr

Courtesy of @dirtyfrankdahmr

I am already squeaky hoarse from yelling my face off.

Truly vocal and appreciative Hartford crowd, the band and fans benefitting from being inside in Connecticut for the first time in forever. Ed even commented on it, how maybe it was better to bring everyone closer being inside there than the usual shed outside town (aka Meadows Music Theater, various other names).

The lights went down at 8:48 PM and they rocked it out of the gate. By the time they got to song three, “Do The Evolution”, the place was roaring, Jeff was faux crossing himself during the “hallelujahs” and Ed was leaping, wine bottle in hand. “Got Some” next and Ed’s mic broke, so he did some Daltrey cord swings with it and said it was too early to be breaking things, but OK! Good sign.

“Severed Hand” has Ed getting out his gold Gibson, taking off his plaid button down so he’s down to his Marathon Man t-shirt. “Dissident” (nice!) gets Ed sliding down into his leaned back down-low yoga-like pose, Stone has long
since been headbanging and continues pretty much all night. Before “Low Light”, Ed says the stage reminds him of a basement floor – “our natural habitat” he says with a grin.

Good singalong at end of “Even Flow”. Before a goosebumb-raising “Nothingman”, Ed tells a story of seeing a young couple holding hands and how stability is way in the future for them, but because they’re together they have everything they need, and “Nothingman” is a cautionary tale about having everything with someone and letting it go.

Shout out to Neil Young before “I Got Shit”. Great singalong as per usual on “Jeremy”. “Daughter” tag was “Mother hear me / Father hear me” into a bit of “WMA” with lyric changed to “white male Arizonian” in reference to the controversial anti-immigrant laws just passed there. Wow, “Satan’s Bed”! It’s smooth with Ed glancing at a lyric sheet. “Lukin” introduced as “Satan’s Kitchen”.

Encore one starts with a smattering of fans holding up “Black, Red, Yellow” request signs. Ed jokes they might consider it or “they might just get mad, but if you make us pancakes or maybe some brownies with a little something special
in it…”

Ed’s sitting down showing off Backspacer vinyl art and talking about how the artist who did the great work, Tom Tomorrow, is from Connecticut and is in the house. Tom comes on stage, hugs stone, and hangs with Ed and Ed tells him to give the vinyl to someone in the crowd and then dedicates “Just Breathe” to him and his wife.

Song 21 is what Ed calls a “0T0T0″ – a “one time and one time only” cover that he has a strong desire to try. He jokes that Jeff told him to see a doctor to cure that feeling. But they rock all faces off with “Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love” by Van Halen, which is simply McCready-tastic with Mike doing the same finger-tapping solo style that Eddie Van Halen used.

“Porch” has Ed shining a light bounced off his guitar into the cheering arena. Encore two starts with a shout to a woman (possibly named karen) who was a patient advocate. She was side stage wearing a team McCready t-shirt. “Crazy Mary” brought Ed to Section 1 on Mike’s side to pass the wine bottle around.

House lights on for “Alive” and they stay on for the rest of the show. Ed gives Sean Penn’s efforts in Haiti for the last six months a hand and asks fans to help with a possible diptheria outbreak there by googling “J/P and Haiti” and finding the org fighting the illness (J/P Haitian Relief Organization).

Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell comes out for the grand finale and when Ed sees his mic next to Ben’s he says “Is he really that tall? Any woman with a pair of four-inch heels want to lend them to me?” And they rock to a close with a truly unexpected “All Along the Watchtower”, Ben tossing the night’s only tambourine far, far back onto the floor and Pearl Jam saying their good nights to sustained cheers.

Jessica Letkemann ( Twitter: @Letkemann )
TFT co-editor Jessica Letkemann is a New York based digital music journalist & editor. She's currently VP & Editor-In-Chief of Digital at Fuse Media ( and was previously managing editor of She has also been on staff at Spin and Premiere magazines. Her first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 2, 1992.

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