Pearl Jam Pictorial: Lightning Bolt Tour East Scrapbook

by Jessica Letkemann on December 23, 2013

Leg 1 of Pearl Jam’s “Lightning Bolt” tour 2013 told in photos and words by four fans: Jessica Letkemann, Rich Wilson, Su May Ong and Aris Siliverdis.

Mike McCready’s bowed guitar on “Pendulum.” The ferocious “Mind Your Manners” call-and-response between Eddie Vedder (“Go to heaven!”) and crowd (“That’s swell!”). Ed’s nearly-nightly “Porch” gymnastics swinging on the green globe lights. Pearl Jam gave us plenty of new live rituals with the first leg of the 2013 “Lightning Bolt” tour (October 11-November 1). But propelled by the new album, thundering through arenas around the east, carrying a palpable, contagious excitement, forward momentum, and bringing it every night with gigs that left masses sweating, joyous, feeling like we’d been strapped to a jet engine for three hours — Pearl Jam’s October run felt particularly special.
The band we love, having looked back in celebration at 20 years, was now 23 and moving forth with new music, new energy, even a new crowd setup (fan club only general admission up front). This tour meant a great deal to me personally, but all the more for some of the other fans who’ve become friends along the way. So in addition to relating my own experiences on leg one, I asked some of those fellow fans — Su May Ong, Rich Wilson and Aris Siliverdis — to share their tour thoughts and photos as well.

PITTSBURGH // Oct. 11, 2013 // Consol Energy Center

PEARL JAM FANS PITTSBURGH 2013 PHOTO BY RICH WILSON So it begins: the first GA line of the tour. (Photo by Rich Wilson) Pearl Jam PITTSBURGH Photo BY RICH WILSON
PJ meets Pittsburgh (Photo: R.Wilson)
RICH WILSON: On our way down to Pittsburgh from Buffalo, we were listening to the SiriusXM Town Hall meeting with Pearl Jam. Ed hinting that they would be getting fairly adventurous with the setlists this tour and in his words “trying some things”… That was as hopeful a quote as I needed to push the pedal on the right a bit harder. After having run into some friends and handled our ticket situation (the situation being – we had no tickets) we were ready to rock. We went in the venue early and sat and chatted with our neighbors about the band, the new album and the forthcoming setlists. I blurted out that there was historical precedent for them to open with “Of the Girl,” since they had done so on 10/11/00 (St. Louis). The band ended up coming out to start with “Pendulum,” which blew our minds live, and then playing “Of the Girl” in the two hole. This set the stage for a double/triple opener (or slower song) motif at nearly every show to follow and oh what a motif that proved to be.
The other thing that happened was we noticed Jason Grilli, pro baseball relief pitcher who comes out to “Whipping,” in our section before the show.  So the whole show I am just waiting for it, my favorite song to spaz out to… and then in the encore they invited him on stage to introduce it and set me free to my spazzing place.
The real takeaways from Pittsburgh were that the band was in a great mood and the new material sounded fantastic. “Lightning Bolt sounded way better than the Wrigley version and “Infallible” was well, infallible.  The first show was filled with energy and 31 total songs, oh what a tour this was going to be.

BUFFALO, NY // Oct. 12, 2013 // First Niagara Center

Pearl Jam Mike McCready Oct 12 2013 Photo by Su May Ong
McCready Rocks (Photo by Su May Ong)
PEARL JAM BUFFALO MARQUEE 2013 PHOTO BY JESSICA LETKEMANN
The Buffalo PJ Show’s Marquee (Photo by Jessica Letkemann)
PEARL JAM STONE GOSSARD BUFFALO 2013 PHOTO BY RICH WILSON
Stone Gossard and his aura? (Photo by Rich Wilson)
PEARL JAM BUFFALO 2013 SETLIST
So many songs… (Photo: J. Letkemann)
JESSICA LETKEMANN: Buffalo turned out to be anything but the nice low-key “ease into the tour” show I’d planned for back in July. Rather than driving up from Brooklyn alone, I’d invited along Su May Ong, a fellow New Yorker I’d met during the 2012 European tour. And as soon as she groggily got in the rental car on the corner of Canal and Broadway at 6 in the morning, she could tell I was riding on adrenaline. 18 hours earlier, my first Billboard cover story on Pearl Jam had been published — an incredible, amazing, unparalleled experience. Now here I was racing 400 miles north, on very little sleep, feeling surreal, on my way to see Pearl Jam rock live. Su May and I left Manhattan with random seats behind the stage, we entered the First Niagara center at 7pm with General Admission somehow — unexpected ticket serendipity had smiled on us when we arrived. We were so unprepared, I flagged down a friend in the seats to bring water. But when the lights went down and we were only about eight people from the rail on McCready’s side, it didn’t matter a bit. Mike solemnly attacked his guitar with a violin bow for “Pendulum” and I was gone. There is little that compares to hearing many songs from a new Pearl Jam album live for the first time, let alone hearing them technically before the album comes out. And any show that PJ sees fit to play “Baba O’Riley” is my kind of show. Come the next day, we were on our way back to NYC, groggy, meditative, both knowing it was just the beginning of the road.

WORCESTER, MA // Oct. 15, 2013 // DCU Center

Pearl Jam Eddie Vedder Worcester 1 2013 Photo by Su May Ong
Ed, pre-lift-off (Photo: Su May Ong)
PEARL JAM WORCESTER 1 2013 GA LINE OF FANS PHOTO BY RICH WILSON
Homeless? No, fans lined up all day for GA! (Photo: Rich Wilson)
PEARL JAM JEFF AMENT MATT CAMERON BOOM WORCESTER 1 2013 PHOTO BY SU MAY ONG
Jeff, Matt & Boom (Photo by Su May Ong)
PEARL JAM JEFF AMENT WORCESTER 1 2013
Amused Ament (Photo: Su May Ong)
Pearl Jam Worcester 2013 Marquee Photo by Su May Ong
Mass. Marquee (Photo by Su May Ong)
PEARL JAM MIKE MCCREADY WORCESTER 1 2013 PHOTO BY SU MAY ONG
McMelty holds court. (Photo by Su May Ong)
SU MAY ONG: Worcester 1 was the epic show I was not expecting. After all it was, only the third show of the tour, night one of a two-night run, Worcester not Boston, etc etc etc. But I should have known better to try to limit PJ to such mortal expectations. Night 1 ended up being the longer night of the two-night Worcester run and the show I would compare all other shows to for the rest of the tour. When “Release” went into “Long Road,” I knew immediately that this was going to be a special night. And then “Fatal” happened… It was also my first time rocking out on Stone’s side (I’ve always been a Mike’s side kinda gal before this tour). I discovered a new-found appreciation for Stone that night that would continue to grow throughout the tour, and I now no-longer have a “side.” I know wherever I land, it will be a rocking time.

WORCESTER, MA // Oct. 16, 2013 // DCU Center

Pearl Jam Eddie Vedder Worcester 2 2013 Photo by Su May Ong
Eddie, enraptured (Photo: Su May Ong)
PEARL JAM WORCESTER 2 2013 GA LINE OF FANS PHOTO BY SU MAY ONG
The first fan in the GA line, fast asleep. (Photo: Su May Ong)
PEARL JAM STONE GOSSARD WORCESTER 2 2013 PHOTO BY SU MAY ONG
Gossard grins (Photo by Su May Ong)
PEARL JAM GA SIGN WORCESTER 2 2013
Above: GA; Below: Matt (Photos: Ong)
MATT CAMERON WORCESTER 2 PEARL JAM 2013 PHOTO SU MAY ONG
Pearl Jam Worcester 2 2013 Jeff Ament Photo by Su May Ong
Don’t it make you ‘Smile’? (Photo: Ong)
PEARL JAM WORCESTER 2 2013 PHOTO BY SU MAY ONG
Big air for Eddie Vedder. (Photo by Su May Ong)
SU MAY ONG: I finally got a birthday show! It only got better as the night progressed. A carefully timed display of my “Matt Fucking Cameron” sign right before “Cropduster” was rewarded with Ed correcting himself as to Matt’s middle name, and later on in the show, Ed would give me a quick birthday shout out when he saw the other side of my sign (‘Best Bday Ever!’). THAT would have been enough, but then I saw Ed pull out a lyric sheet during the first encore, and realized they were about to play something rare, which turned out to be “Other Side”! It was only the second time the band has ever played it live, and had eluded us all at Wrigley (crossed off the setlist). The best moment of the night for me came at the end of “Other Side,” when Stone looked at Ed in wonderment and said, “Wow!” That look on Stone’s face spoke volumes of the bond between the two, one that cannot really be described with words. Witnessing that moment was truly a gift.

BROOKLYN, NY // Oct. 18, 2013 // Barclays Center

Pearl Jam Mike McCready Brooklyn Photo one
Mike (Photo: Su May Ong)
PEARL JAM BROOKLYN 1 2013 GA LINE OF FANS PHOTO BY SU MAY ONG
The Brooklyn GA line had wi-fi & outlets! (Photo: Su May Ong)
PEARL JAM EDDIE VEDDER BROOKLYN 2013 PHOTO BY JESSICA LETKEMANN
Eddie Vedder with fan license plates. (Photo: Jessica Letkemann)
PEARL JAM BROOKLYN 2013 GA SIGN
Top: GA sign; Below: Paris’ 100th show!
PEARL JAM BROOKLYN PARIS 100 SHOWS 2013 PHOTO SU MAY ONG
Pearl Jam Brooklyn 2013 Eddie Vedder Photo by Su May Ong
EV (Photo: Su May Ong)
PEARL JAM BROOKLYN 1 2013 PHOTO BY JESSICA LETKEMANN AND SU MAY ONG
L: #21 in line. R: Brooklyn setlist. (Photos: Letkemann, Ong)
JESSICA LETKEMANN: I ride the subway past the “Barclays Center” stop on my way to work every day, and had been thinking about it every day when those doors slid open. But it wasn’t just another New York show for me. My tour partner, Paris, who I wrote about in my Wrigley review, was flying in from L.A. — he’d won the Ten Club GA lottery for our seats. We’ve been seeing Pearl Jam together since 1995 — but Brooklyn 1 would be his 100th show.
I met Paris at Barclays at 9am and we got our numbers in line Sharpie’d onto the backs of our hands — numbers 20 and 21. It was a perfect fall day, and though we were sitting on the sidewalks (or rather, camp chairs bought from Target across the street), Barclays had both outdoor electrical outlets and wi-fi. More than a few fans (myself included) ended up working right there from Atlantic Avenue. It was also a full day of familiar faces getting reacquainted. 6:30pm came fast and we scrambled through the airport-style metal detectors and sprinted for the front. Paris and I landed on the rail right in front of Stone, Paris with his fabric “100th Show” sign wadded up in a pocket. “Pendulum” by now isn’t a surprise, but “Release” washes over us. Ed gives a shout out to Jay Z (who had a hand in getting Barclays built) ahead of “Dissident,” dedicates “I Am Mine” to the the New Jersey folks affected by Hurricane Sandy and the boardwalk fire, and there’s a one-man fist-fight somewhere behind us in the pit — so we never forget we’re in New York — but we we’re drinking it all in, so up close there.
“Sirens” becomes a live highlight for me that night, watching Mike, Jeff, Eddie, Matt and Stone all singing the “ah ah oh oh” coda together, just something about the fact that all of them are joined in the act. Soon, Eddie’s musing on Andy Wood, someone he “never met but I think him about him a lot” and we’re all sliding into “Chloe Dancer / Crown of Thorns.”
But things really go off the chain for us at the top of the second encore when Paris decides it’s time to hold up his 100th show sign before “Wasted Reprise.” Eddie sees it right away, and says, “Right here in the front row, he doesn’t look like a liar to me, he’s holding up a sign that says it’s his 100th show. Shit! I owe you some drinks, my friend. Right? Can I get another bottle?” While someone brings Eddie a bottle of wine so he can give it to Paris, Eddie’s asking what his name is, which leads to Eddie’s hilariously barely hearing, “Paris?! Harris?! Paris?.”
Paris is grinning like a mad man, looking happier than I’ve ever seen him as Eddie hands down a fresh bottle of wine to him. Then Paris is swigging and thrusting the bottle in my face to get me to drink some down, and he is hugging me with incredible force.
I thought he could not get more elated, but then the band kicked into “Life Wasted,” at some point soon after we realize Mike McCready’s not on stage anymore, but down in the walkway between the rail and the stage swiftly strolling closer. Next thing I know, Mike has stopped right in front of Paris and I and he’s shredding through a solo directly at us, leaning on the rail with his guitar facing Paris, a personal solo basically, for his 100th show. Holy shit. We cheered ourselves hoarse.

BROOKLYN, NY // Oct. 19, 2013 // Barclays Center

Pearl Jam Eddie Vedder Brooklyn Photo Ong
Vedder (Photo: Su May Ong)
PEARL JAM BROOKLYN 2 2013 MATT CAMERON PHOTO BY SU MAY ONG
Matt F%cking Cameron (Photo: Su May Ong)
PEARL JAM EDDIE VEDDER BROOKLYN 2013 PHOTO BY SU MAY ONG
Eddie acoustic (Photo by Su May Ong)
PEARL JAM DENNIS RODMAN BROOKLYN 2013
Top: Dennis Rodman, GA; Below: PJ bows
PEARL JAM BROOKLYN 2013 PHOTO SU MAY ONG
PEARL JAM BRooklyn
Eddie goes for a swing during “Porch” (Photo by Su May Ong)
JESSICA LETKEMANN: Oh how I love a New York City two-night run, and it was top of mind that it was the 20th anniversary of “Vs,” to boot. We were in seats on Stone’s side tonight, so we weren’t part of the all-day GA line festivities. But my mind was still racing from Friday’s show and ready for whatever the night would bring. The lights went down and “Pendulum” rose up, Eddie’s tenor booming out over the mass of us. I turned out to be a three-opener night with an immaculate “Wash” (!) and “Nothingman” (singalong included) keying everyone up as much as any higher-velocity tunes could. “Live from Brooklyn, it’s Saturday night,” announced, and then PJ kicked it up into “Lightning Bolt” and “Mind Your Manners.” We were bouncing around, sweating already. I remember hearing Stone’s opening chords to “In Hiding” and Paris and I turning to each other in unison in absolute glee. Tonight’s a party, for sure.
“If I were a surfer, which I am, and you were the ocean, which in a way you are, this would be good surfing right here,” Ed says after “Down,” and then warned about the weird fight in GA the previous night. “Last night we tied the record for most fistfights at a Pearl Jam show: one. So let’s not even get close to that record tonight.” Done.
Eddie announces “Matt F%cking Cameron!” at the end of “Even Flow” and then I know not only is Su May down there on the rail somewhere but EV must have seen her bright orange sign, which says exactly that.
“This here one’s about fragility,” Ed introduces a tight “Infallible.” “We all know about the fragility of life, the fragility of the planet… We we all live with this knowledge. But it’s just maybe a reminder or perhaps a reminder to maybe somebody in the financial district who doesn’t seem to be making decisions based on the fragility of this existence.”And on that same tip, the deep Jeff-Ament-led groove of rarity “Rats” rolls in after Ed dedicates another one to the “people in the financial district.”
Some of the most powerful moments are among the quieter ones. The crowd takes over from Ed for the first chorus of “Present Tense,” atop Mike’s simple riff. And after all 18,103 of us shout-sing “…in the present tense” he cuts in, telling us, “I needed to hear that. Thank you!”
Sitting on the side affords a great view of the front of GA jumping in unison as the chorus of “Given To Fly” takes off with Cameron’s thunderous roll of the drums. Afterwards, Ed’s ready to chat, pointing out Dennis Rodman down in GA, the fans from around the world holding flags aloft throughout the arena, and then the Northeast itself. “You’ve always been really really good to this group, you’ve been there when we’ve needed you. Hopefully, we’ve been able to return the favor.”At that moment someone tosses up a New Jersey Nets #10 Mookie Blaylock jersey, so fitting as the now-Brooklyn Nets play in this very arena. But it’s during this interlude that he also talks about being broken.
“I know that the thing that bonds my friends, us together usually is that at one point we were probably pretty broken. Sometimes people, they steer away from broken people. And those are the people, usually, that have never been broken,” he says. “There is nothing wrong with being broken. You can get fixed. You can fix yourself. Things break and then they get fixed, but usually with the help of other people.” And soon he adds, “We should celebrate what we’ve been through. It’s the people without the scars, those are the ones you’ve got to worry about. It’s only a matter of time,” right into the opening notes of “Better Man.”
Brooklyn 2 had encores that you can tell are awesome just by seeing the setlist — “Footsteps,” “All Those Yesterdays” into “Future Days” (the past, the future), “Whipping,” “Leaving Here” — all of which were great to hear. But it was so much more than song choice that made the show work so well to me. Eddie wins huge cheers when he mounts the green lights during “Porch” and swings out over the crowd singing while Stone, Matt, Jeff, Mike and Boom bat around the other lights. Then, McCready seriously ups the ante on set-staple “Alive” when he takes off into the audience, running up the aisle between section six and seven and back, soloing all the way!

PHILADELPHIA // Oct. 21, 2013 // Wells Fargo Center

Pearl Jam Philadelphia 2013 Photo Letkemann
‘Sonic Reducer’ (Photo: J. Letkemann)
PEARL JAM PHILLY 2013 PHOTO BY JESSICA LETKEMANN
The bird flies for ‘Mother’ (Photo: Jessica Letkemann)
JESSICA LETKEMANN: It’s not far from New York, but Philly put me back in the “on the road” mindset I love – as it involved taking a half-day off, a couple hours on the train, and a hotel. It’s fair to guess that a Monday show might be a bit lackluster, but I should have known Philly never rests. And if the Philly crowd was ready with such energy, clearly so was Pearl Jam. My co-worker Peter, who had never seen PJ before, had been asking about joining me for a Pearl Jam show for months and months, so we decided on this pair of early-week Philly shows. He walked into the Wells Fargo arena a first-timer, and he walked out raving, loaded down with stickers, the t-shirt (which I’ve seen him wear to work more than once since), and the poster — totally converted. I too was somewhat in disbelief that we’d witnessed a Monday night show over three hours long — 34 bonkers songs including “Why Go,” “Sonic Reducer,” and the thematic double-deal of “Let The Records Play” into “another song about the same goddamn thing,” “Let The Records Play.” Total boogie. There were Ramones fans holding up a huge “Gabba Gabba Hey” sign up in the nosebleeds and before long, Ed had them on stage and dedicated “I Believe In Miracles” to them. Indeed.

PHILADELPHIA // Oct. 22, 2013 // Wells Fargo Center

Philly 2 (Photos by Jessica Letkemann)
JESSICA LETKEMANN: The fact that it is PJ23 and the fact that “Lightning Bolt” is about to hit No.1 on the Billboard 200 chart is lost on neither me nor the band, the night has a celebratory, “let’s play anything” feel throughout. I’m jolted by the rare “Satan’s Bed” and so pleased to hear “Worldwide Suicide.” But it’s the encore when PJ acknowledges the twin occasions. A bottle of champagne is uncorked, the “Singles” twofer of “Breath” AND “State of Love and Trust” is rocked. After “Last Kiss” is played for the people in the back, Eddie gives a shout out to local station WMMR and how a real human will answer if you call, and “maybe even play a request for you, which, if you’ve ever tried it, that’s a great way to get laid.” And then Ed talks about Pearl Jam’s anniversary.“The birthday present for us, we get to turn 23 today and we get a little present… the little record that we made it actually went to the top five. Or almost number four. No, it’s three. Two? No, actually it’s number one. So that’s cool. That was today. The best part is that we used to not give a fuck about that, and we still kind of don’t, but it feels good,” he says, laughing. Two songs later the whole audience is singing “Happy Birthday” along with the band. Their present to us? A 34-song, “Baba O’Riley”-ified Tuesday night show! Thank you, PJ!

HARTFORD, CT // Oct. 25, 2013 // XL Center

Pearl Jam Hartford Mike McCready 2013
Mike & Matt (Photo: Aris Siliverdis)
PEARL JAM HARTFORD 2013 MARQUEE
The Hartford marquee (Photo: Jessica Letkemann)
PEARL JAM EDDIE VEDDER HARTFORD
Eddie sings to the people in the back (Photo by Aris Siliverdis)
PEARL JAM HARTFORD 2013
Top: Ed & Stone; Below: Mike & Jeff
PEARL JAM HARTFORD 2013
Pearl Jam Hartford Setlist 2013
Setlist… (Photo: Jessica Letkemann)
PEARL JAM HARTFORD 2013
Eddie speaks, Stone listens (Photo: Aris Siliverdis)
ARIS SILIVERDIS: Four little words: “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” I had thought about going but ultimately did not attend Pearl Jam’s concert in Hartford in 2010. I regretted that decision when I learned that the band played a scorching cover of the aforementioned Van Halen classic and that the performance that night was OTOTO (One Time One Time Only). When Ed started talkin’ ’bout that song at Pearl Jam’s 2013 stop in Hartford and said that they were going to play it and they did, I felt that I could die happy.

CHARLOTTE, NC // Oct. 30, 2013 // Time Warner Cable Arena

PEARL JAM CHARLOTTE 2013
Eddie and Boom (Photo: Aris Siliverdis)
PEARL JAM CHARLOTTE 2013
Gossard rocks with McCready & Ament (Photo by Aris Siliverdis)
PEARL JAM CHARLOTTE
Eddie among the crowd during “Porch” (Photo by Aris Siliverdis)
PEARL JAM CHARLOTTE 2013
McCready, mid-solo (Photo: A. Siliverdis)
ARIS SILIVERDIS: This was my sixth and final show of the first leg of the tour and hearing the live debut of “Getaway,” my favorite song from the new album, was unexpected. That alone would have been enough to make the trip from New Jersey to Charlotte worth it. Also, after all the shows I’ve attended over the years, this was the first time I got “Bee Girl.” These are just two examples of how every PJ show can be surprising and new.

NEW ORLEANS Voodoo Music + Arts Experience // Nov. 1, 2013 // City Park

New Orleans 2013 Photos by Jessica Letkemann
JESSICA LETKEMANN: I planned to go to Voodoo even before PJ was announced, having been to the festival in 2011 when Soundgarden played and I discovered the joys of New Orleans on Halloween weekend. A festival show is a whole other beast than a regular PJ show to me, the set is shorter and the crowd isn’t necessarily full of PJ fans. By the same token, festivals can be more about discovery. I deeply respect the fact that I’ve seen Drake, Jay Z, Florence and the Machine and other acts because of PJ festival gigs, and Voodoo 2013 was interesting because I got to see Macklemore’s pre-PJ set. Pearl Jam, however, was the main event. Such is the way of constantly moving festival crowds that I wound up just off the rail in front of Mike McCready, hilariously right behind some major PJ fans I’d seen over and over at other eastern PJ shows. Steve Gleason, who did an extremely moving “Lightning Bolt” guest interview, came out to introduce the show, reminding me how much New Orleans was his town. EV would later divulge that Gleason created the setlist, and for sure, Steve was right there in the back of the stage rocking out the whole time. Rocking out, also, was the sign language interpreter posted right in front of Mike, and thus right in front of us. Eddie surprised her twice during the set, coming down to her platform to sing along next to her. When it came time to go home Monday, I was already counting the days until leg two.

Jump to Leg 2: PEARL JAM PICTORIAL WEST LIGHTNING BOLT TOUR SCRAPBOOK

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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