Behind the Setlist: Orpheum ’94

by John Reynolds , Kathy Davis on February 28, 2011

Orpheum Theater, Boston, MA

There are legendary Pearl Jam shows and there are legendary Pearl Jam shows. Those that rise above and beyond are recognizable by short names: “Zurich“, “Atlanta ’94“, “Soldier Field ’95” and “Magnuson Park” to name a few. The latter was released as part of the TEN Super Deluxe Box Set.  The upcoming Vs. / Vitalogy re-issue will include another of these fabled shows: “Boston 94“.

One could argue that the 1993 Vs. tour was the toughest ticket in their 20-year history. The band did not cave to the pressure of playing large venues and had begun the war against Ticketmaster. This show at the Orpheum Theater was the third of three nights in Boston, the first two being at the Boston Garden. After those two nights at a 15,000 seat arena, to say the Orpheum show (capacity 2700) was a tough ticket is an understatement. In addition, this was one of a few early fan-club shows, where local fans were given the opportunity to mail in their ticket requests.

Ultimately, though, this Orpheum Theater on April 12, 1994 is known for its wild setlist full of unreleased songs, b-sides and covers. During the show, Ed revealed why:

We would like to thank our crew, speaking of ‘Rats.’ You should also thank the one who made the setlist tonight, cause somebody else made it.

A breakdown of the setlist shows why it made hardcore fans drool:

  • Songs from TEN:  4 – (Oceans, Even Flow, Release, Once)
  • Songs from Vs.: 8 – (Go, Animal, Glorified G, Daughter, Rats, Blood, Rearviewmirror, Elderly Woman…)
  • Songs from Vitalogy (which wasn’t out yet!): 4 – (Immortality, Not for You, Better Man, Tremor Christ)
  • Past and future B-sides: 5(State of Love and Trust, Alone, Dirty Frank, Yellow Ledbetter, Hard To Imagine)
  • Jam: 1
  • Covers: 3 (Sonic Reducer, Fuckin’ Up, I’ve Got A Feeling)

So who in the crew actually created this setlist? We caught up with Tim “Skully” Quinlan, a member of Pearl Jam’s crew in the early 1990s, to talk about the famous crew-created setlist:

TFT: Were you part of picking the songs for the set? Do you remember how you guys were approached?

Skully: I remember that show and yes it was a crew set list show.  If I remember right it was Karrie Keyes’ idea.  I think she convinced Ed to let “us” make a setlist up.  I think we all added our 2-cents worth (our favorite songs) but Karrie came up with the order.  I can’t remember what songs I asked for.  Probably  “Footsteps” or “Immortality”.

TFT:  Do you remember who else would have had input?

Skully: Well, me, Karrie, as well as Jimmy Shoaf, Jeff Ousley, George Webb, Smitty, Kevin Shuss

TFT: After the show, were you pretty happy with it or was it just another show?

Skully: Back then no show was just another show…

The Orpheum show will be included in the Vs. / Vitalogy re-issue in two packages:

  1. Deluxe -  CD
  2. Super-Deluxe - CD and Double LP

Rob Skinner aka Santos L. Halper shed some light on the tracklisting on the Pearl Jam message boards.  Not all of the 25 songs from the show will be released.

Here’s the tracklist:

  • Oceans – CD/LP
  • Even Flow – CD/LP
  • Sonic Reducer (with Mark Arm) – CD/LP
  • State Of Love And TrustDigital Only
  • Hard To ImagineDigital Only
  • Immortality – CD/LP
  • Go – Not Available
  • Animal – Not Available
  • Glorified G – CD/LP
  • Daughter – CD/LP
  • Alone – Digital Only
  • Not For You – CD/LP
  • Better Man – Digital Only
  • Rats – CD/LP
  • Blood – CD/LP
  • Release – CD/LP
  • Tremor Christ – CD/LP
  • Once – CD/LP
  • Fuckin’ Up – CD/LP
  • Dirty Frank - CD/LP
  • Yellow Ledbetter – Digital Only
  • Jam – Digital Only
  • Rearviewmirror – CD/LP
  • Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town – CD/LP
  • I’ve Got A Feeling – Not Available

And here’s what the labels mean:

  • CD/LP – CD available for Deluxe and Super-Deluxe, Double-LP for Super-Deluxe only
  • Digital Only – A link will be sent on the March 29 release date to all who pre-ordered the Deluxe and Super Deluxe
  • Not available – These are not included due to the technological limitations of the time. No complete multi-track recording exists.

Kathy@TheOrpheum

I was fortunate to be able to attend the Orpheum show, through serendipitous circumstances which happened when my Footsteps fanzine co-editor, Randy Osenenko – who had a ticket and I didn’t – ran into someone who works with the band, who got me in. I was in our hotel room, hanging out with another PJ pal who was ticketless so we could commiserate, when Randy called me to tell me the news – about an hour before the show was supposed to start. I felt awful to leave the friend I had invited to the hotel, but thank she was a fellow hardcore who understood!

I didn’t know I could move as quickly as I did to scramble to that show.   My seat was in the balcony, about six rows back or so. Since I was editing my fanzine Footsteps at that time,  it seemed fitting that I ended up sitting adjacent to Michael Saunders, a Boston Globe writer who published a review “New songs, tributes mark Pearl Jam’s cozy Orpheum show” (The Boston Globe 13 April 1994) a day later.

For most Pearl Jam fans, any price would have been a bargain, especially for a show in a theater barely a quarter as big as the usual arenas. For a superfan like Kathy Davis of Fremont, Calif., this show was priceless. Davis co-edits a Pearl Jam fanzine and flew out from the West Coast to catch the New England dates of the tour. “I’m flying home {Wednesday} and this is the best way to end my stay.”

For the twisted trip down memory lane, the band played recordings of the Circle Jerks while setting up, an homage to the West Coast hardcore-punk sound. That gave way to the eerie atmospheric strains of a snippet from Brian Eno’s “Apollo” album, a fact gleaned from an energetic Davis, still incredulous that she was on the other side of the continent watching her favorite people in the world.

“I usually read about people who do this, or write about them, and now look at me — here I am,” she laughed.

And there I was. During the show, I fed song titles to Mr. Saunders; recounting the songs played that night sure needed a pair of seasoned Pearl Jam-fan ears.

He kept his word: few in the audience knew “Hard to Imagine,” a slow, soulful grind that appeared on an early demo version of the album “Vs.” Fewer still knew “Immortality,” a dense, ringing song on which Vedder plugs in and adds a layer of swirling guitar drone.

Vedder even did a song from his previous band Bad Radio, kind of a jangly guitar pop cut with an edge. These unknown songs were greeted warmly, even by the fans who know only the radio hits. Up in the balcony, however, several clumps of thick-necked guys stood stiffly with folded arms during songs they didn’t know, then jolted alive during “Go,” “Animal” and “Glorified G.” Perhaps the song “Not For You” should have been dedicated to them.

Kathy here.  Yes indeed, I did feed song titles to Mr. Saunders; recounting the songs played that night sure needed a pair of seasoned Pearl Jam-fan ears. Looking back on that magical night now, I’m still amazed by it. This was one of those setlists where every time a song started, and electrical volt pulsed through me. Every song was remarkable , either in how infrequently the song had been played to that date, or in where it was placed  in the set.

Standouts to me: “Hard To Imagine”  Hells Bells. Seriously. The band trotted it out a month prior at the Regal Theatre in Chicago, and only eight other times before this night… I remember hearing Stone noodle about with it in 1992 bootlegs, before it was even recorded.  I was sure there was no way in hell I’d ever see it live.   To have “Sonic Reducer” as the third song in, not as an encore – stunning.  “Even Flow” so early in the set – not after the band was well into the night as was commonplace then.  What the hell?

“Alone” – my favorite B-side. “Yellow Ledbetter” – a song that is an old friend to us all now, but in April of 1994 was another that had only been played eight times prior, and was nowhere near achieving the heavy-rotation, set-closer status that it has today.  “I Got A Feeling”, the “Ledbetter” of 1992 (it closed a huge chunk of sets that year), had only been played once in 1993. As a huge, life-long Beatles fan as well, it was amazing to see it live by the band who had achieved and surpassed that status in my personal musical lexicon.  And for what it’s worth, the song was only played once after that – ten years later in Boston – and hasn’t been played since! It’s a great example of how special it felt to experience the night.

The feeling of being at this show and hearing these songs, for me,  it felt a bit like the entire setlist was one big, long encore.  There was that charge of “what are they going to play next?” and each time a song started –  I can’t count how many times I said, either audibly or not, “I can’t believe they’re playing this!”

Experiencing the joy coming out of our boys that night  was one of my most unique Pearl Jam concert experiences in my eighteen years, and a hundred and a half times plus of seeing them.  I remember well Ed plucking the little girl from the audience, hoisting her onto his shoulders and spinning her around in circles, and for me the whole night had that feeling of spontaneity and abandon.

The Orpheum  was the last show in my run of East Coast shows that began with Rochester April 7th – the night before the news broke about Kurt Cobain’s death.  Just that my band was still playing music live after such devastating news was miraculous enough to me. Having this set of songs so uniquely presented, and played by my five boys so playfully, powerfully and intensely – it was akin to a spiritual revival for me.  My faith that Pearl Jam would be able to continue and thrive was cemented.

John Reynolds ( Twitter: @jjjrrr )
A New Jersey based programmer, John handles TFT’s programming and technical aspects. He also conceives and writes his share of TFT’s articles and sections. John’s first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 12, 1992.
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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