Jersey Jam

by Jessica Letkemann on May 19, 2010

How I am even still upright, I do not know.

Back from Boston to home in New York City at something like 5:30 in the morning. I worked all day. Almost no sleep was involved between shows, and the rain wasn’t helping. But Tuesday’s show at the Prudential Center in Newark was a little extra, gravy … icing.  An add-on show right near home.

So while I suspected it might turn out to be a little bit of a mellow night, that suited me just fine. Make no mistake, there was plenty of velocity in the set, but the mood mirrored the rainy Tuesday night outside somewhat.

At the encore break, Ed even said he sees the crowd is quiet and that s’ok, he gets it, and he thinks we do want more. Right you are. the lights went down at 8:50 PM and our master of ceremonies, in a suit coat and Walter Payton #34 jersey, led us into the atmospheric “Of The Girl.”

Courtesy of @DirtyFrankDahmr on Twitter

Courtesy of @DirtyFrankDahmr on Twitter

They picked it up right after that. “Do The Evolution” as the third song of any set says something, and we get hooked up with “Alone” next. I am beginning to imagine whether I will want a chiropractor after this week. But the roller coaster slides around a bend to “Amongst The Waves” next, dedicated to New Jersey’s few, hearty surfers (Let’s hear ya Asbury Park, Manasquan! -JR).

Next we have the interplay of soft and hard to bounce between. “Immortality”, “In Hiding”, “Even Flow”, and it’s clear the pace tonight is going to be unpredictable, full of wild-card tunes and usual songs played at unusual points in the set.

After “Insignificance”, “Supersonic” is introduced as the song that comes on when you “play C3″ at Ed’s house. And then they whipsaw from 2009 back to 1991 for the “adopted stepchild from back in the day”, “Brother”. Around this time I am realizing a few things about why this show feels so different from Boston and Hartford, aside from the obvious weather, geography, and night of the week. The houselights seem to be on most of the time, and its an odd but good sensation – to see everyone around you so well for so much of the show. The venue itself is also more like a nicer business hotel than a place to watch sweaty grown men hurl pucks, balls, or riffs at each other. There are actual restaurants, the cleanest venue bathroom I’ve ever seen, and a general sense of relaxed service. Very interesting.

The other thing happening tonight is that the band is kinda making it up as they go along – there are many conferences about what to play next. They’re on, but … relaxed.

There must be something about Newark that inspires Ed to share song origins. He laid down the story of “Yellow Ledbetter” at his own solo show a few blocks away back in ’08, and last night, he told a story of how “Daughter”‘s humble beginnings in the bathroom of a Denver hotel. Ed and Stone were sharing a room, and went into the bathroom to jam because it had the best acoustics in the place, and Daughter came out pretty much as is. Stone’s playing an electric guitar for the actual song tonight, and during the “W.M.A.” tag, Ed again makes it “White Male Arizonian”, a reference to the new controversial anti-immigrant laws in that state.

After the encore break, “Just Breathe” is dedicated to a fan who wrote the band a note about how much he loves his sick dad. Ed is in fine voice for “Footsteps”, a request from back in Hartford. “Jersey Girl” starts the second encore to a mixed chorus of “Bruuuuuce” and “Boooooom“. And Ed smiles, and then says the tune, which Springsteen famously does, is really a Tom Waits tune. True! But it’s no wonder Jersey Girl got the ol’ “Bruuuuuuce” hollar.

We ride into groovetown with “You Are”, and headbang to “Whipping”, we’re up into soaring anthemland with “Alive”, back to contemplative singalong with “Indifference”, and then full lights up, Band of Horses-assisted “All Along the Watchtower” for the coda before the train pulls into the station for the night. And I can honestly say I have never seen someone make a tambourine sail as well and as far as BOH’s Ben did at the end of that.

Train home to NYC. Bed at 1:30.

Mission for Wednesday: day of rest.

The Garden cometh.

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 (Fuse.tv) and was previously managing editor of Billboard.com. She has also been on staff at Spin and Premiere magazines. Her first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 2, 1992.

Leave a Comment