Prague Rock – Pearl Jam in the Czech Republic

by Jessica Letkemann on July 9, 2012

Some cities have a little bit of magic in the air, but Prague more than most. And that magic certainly touched Pearl Jam’s show at the O2 arena.

It was one of those shows where time kinda seems to stop and all the best ingredients are fully present: orderly 10 Club line, super friendly and cool fans from around the world surrounding you, an amazingly loving and responsive crowd in general, and in turn, Pearl Jam hitting that zone where the setlist just flows and they confidently rock odd/excellent things like “Push Me, Pull Me” into “Garden” to big cheers, Ed is in particularly good voice all night, and everyone is just very happy.

X began the night all smiles, and Ed and Mike were sidestage basically their whole set until they brought out a second mic and announced a special guest as Eddie came out to sing “Devil Doll” with them.

Eddie with Exene on Devil Doll

Eddie with Exene on Devil Doll (photo by J. Letkemann)

The Pearl Jam set itself felt like levitation – all crowd buoying band buoying crowd and on and on. Ed quoted “Oliver” Wilde (correcting himself, it was “Oscar”) saying Wilde quipped he didn’t believe in God, he believed in something much bigger. Right into “Gods’ Dice”. Frenzy on the floor for the first of many many times.

The wine flowed literally all night, Ed pouring some of his into fans’ cups on Mike’s side. Later, he gave the bottle away sometime around “Crazy Mary”.

As has been a trend, fan flags of many nations studded the arena. Canada, Italy, Argentina, and on and on. Before “1/2 Full”, Eddie asked for house lights to look at them all and said he was glad PJ was a good excuse for so many people to visit this wonderful country of hidden treasures like something from a fairy tale. (He’s right, this place is a wonder). And during “1/2 Full”, Ed shone the spotlight off of his guitar onto this global crowd.

A note here for Stone and Jeff. Mike looks like a kid in a candy store everytime he’s on stage, but get that from Jeff and Stone too (not to mention EV and Matt) and something is up. In Stone’s case, it translated into some very inspired playing – the groove in “Even Flow”, the rhythm part on “Black”, the solo on “Do The Evolution”? Yes, yes, yes.

And speaking of “Do The Evolution”, it started a new kind of singalong chant instead of the bridge where he got the crowd to chant “whoa whoa” to the melody of the “admire me admire my home” part that the audience just took and ran with, singing the band back onstage with it at the encore.

And speaking of “Black”, with its “we didn’t belong together” tag. Much appreciation to Eddie for these moments when he reaches out and hits you with certain notes and reminds you just how fine that voice is.

“Just Breathe” dedicated to just-engaged fans Marta and Javier who were about to go on a “journey of love and make it official.”

During “Wasted Reprise” intro Eddie talked of it being “one of the best crowds so far … the best … no bullshit. Does that translate?” And said something heartfelt about never taking all this for granted: “Not long ago I had an injury and couldn’t use my right arm and didn’t know if being in a group would be taken away from me. And to come on tour, and to come here and have you here, its all so special.”

A tag of the Rolling Stones’ “Angie” on “Crazy Mary”, Ed hilariously introducing the band in Czech while an amused Stone, hand on hip, held his notebook. No wonder Ed introduced Stone with a fake word that sounded like “paperholder.” He had a good laugh about the word for drummer when he introduced “batitsie Matt Cameron.”

It felt like it was gonna be a “Baba night”, and the pleasure of it was huge. A stack of tambourines handed out, “Yellow Ledbetter”, a bow and just enough time to peel myself from the rail on Stone’s side to run to merch and buy the show flag and run through a thunderstorm to the last metro of the night.

“Why Go Home”? We all sang it tonight and we all meant it.

Thank you for this, Praha and PJ!

Pearl Jam in Prague

Pearl Jam in Prague (photo by J. Letkemann)

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.

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