Pearl Jam Pictorial: West Lightning Bolt Tour Scrapbook

by Jessica Letkemann on December 31, 2013

Leg 2 of Pearl Jam’s “Lightning Bolt” tour 2013 told in photos & words by eight fans: Jessica Letkemann, Thaís Campos, Su May Ong, Aris Siliverdis, Shannon Monroe, Brian Smith, Rich Wilson & Juan C. Campos.

Headed west and north as the weather got colder, the second leg of Pearl Jam’s 2013 “Lightning Bolt” tour was both real travel, and frankly, real magic. Flights and hours of interstate yawned between shows, regions and climates spanned, as fans from all over the country (and the world) hit the road for urban camping in the general admission lines, friendships formed and strengthened through all, and night after night of Pearl Jam’s superlative live rock, November 15 through December 6. Each show, Eddie, Mike, Stone, Jeff, Matt and Boom pulled off masterful setlists of the rarely played (“Can’t Keep” after five years), the new (all of “Lightning Bolt”), and the favorite familiar (you know what those songs are) with acrobatic musicianship, good vibes, and this sense that we all belong when the lights go down and the volume comes up.
Leg 1 had been my home region (chronicled in TFT’s Pearl Jam Lightning Bolt Tour East Photo Scrapbook), but Leg 2 — the back half — was the frontier, a celebration of this fuerte new music. I saw and felt a lot of emotion out there (tears, euphoria, laughter) from the band and many of us in the crowds. Accordingly, no one fan can come close to capturing the amazing experience, so I’m offering some of my own observations and photos but also those of a number of others: Houston fan (and writer) Brian Smith (@ChronBrianSmith on Twitter), my fellow New Yorkers Su May Ong (@SuzieMay212) and Aris Siliverdis, Bay Area fan Shannon Monroe (tour partner of TFT’s Kathy Davis), good-natured GA ninja Rich Wilson (@rtw702) from Denver, Brazil’s Thaís Campos (@Anestha), the tireless fan who traveled 45,300 miles this year seeing PJ and taking great photos and whose kindness made my L.A. 2 experience unforgettable, and (no relation) Colombian fan Juan Camilo Campos (@PearlJamCOL).
Thank you for an inspiring, unforgettable 2013, Pearl Jam.

UPDATE 1/5/2014: Added Vancouver photos & memories from Rebecca Carfagna.

DALLAS // Nov. 15, 2013 // American Airlines Center

Pearl Jam Boom and Stone Gossard Dallas 2013 Photo by Aris Siliverdis
2G: Boom & Stone (Photo: A. Siliverdis)
Eddie Vedder sings to the back of the arena (Photo: Aris Siliverdis)
PJ takes a bow (Photo by Aris Siliverdis)
St. Vincent, Stone & Carrie Brownstein
BRIAN SMITH: How to start the machine up again for Leg 2? A 4 a.m. drive, of course, celebrating the band’s long-delayed real return to The South. Houston to Dallas, steaming coffee, “Lightning Bolt” cranked, a cold mid-November daybreak along I-45 and the comforting emptiness that is the exterior of an NBA arena at 7:30 a.m. The general admission line is already 20 strong, headed by a father and a son who showed up when Friday’s drive began, and featuring two kids wearing “I saw Pearl Jam in the womb” T-shirts with “Binaural” and “Riot Act” tour dates inked on. The GA line moves a few times, the merch line begins and never ends, the conversations never stop. Grab lunch with a super-nice couple and their kid — they were in the Philadelphia GA lines three weeks and 1,600 miles ago. Form instant bonds with new friends that may never be seen again. First-show and best-setlist talk; poster, sticker, Brooklyn II vs. Charlottesville, Va., and Stone’s hair chatter; memories of PJ’s past shows in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and Lubbock (Oct. 18, 2000 with a debut of Buddy Holly’s “Everyday”).
By 5 p.m., there’s just a buzz. Some have never seen the band; most haven’t done GA on this tour; few have since PJ mostly went to seats in 1998. Everything works out. The numbers hold, security’s cool, fans become better friends. My four GA rails on Leg 1 become a fifth in Dallas. Pure happiness. And the show hasn’t even begun.
By lights down, Dirk Nowitzki’s second home is slammed – absolutely sold out. Um, why doesn’t PJ play The South? “Pendulum” gets deeper and more gorgeous every night. “Can’t Keep” at No. 3 is Example Number 826 this band does not fuck around. Then a burning “Interstellar” into a hotter “Corduroy” and it’s 2000 all over again. Dallas is looooud. The band’s already feeding.
“Mind Your Manners” cranks 10 to 11, with Ed singing so hard he knocks himself down at the end of a ferocious “Go to heaven, that’s swell!” call-and-response. He looks at Stone, the front row and gets up, smiling. Why doesn’t PJ play the South? Every other band alive and dead would kill to unleash seven songs like Dallas gets 1-7. PJ is PJ because of the ridiculous  “Got Some,” “Brain Of J.” and “World Wide Suicide” 8-10 run that follows. Pogoing, singing and screaming, forevs.
But wait: there’s more. “Jeremy” and “Glorified G” follow the brilliant 1995-penned ode to the mystery of assassinated President John F. Kennedy’s lost brain. It’s Newtown, gun control and the 50th anniversary of a worldwide tragedy, and the band somehow hammers its point without preaching.
“Footsteps” and “Chloe/Crown” for Andy Wood, with the lighted bird slowly flapping its glowing wings. A ripping “The Real Me” into “Do the Evolution.” Then St. Vincent and Portlandia/Sleater-Kinnney’s Carrie Brownstein are on stage for a joyous “Rockin’ in the Free Word.”
Three hours, 32 songs, first show of Leg 1. They are not fucking around. How do you celebrate pure happiness? By finding the car, finding the interstate, then driving straight to Oklahoma City and finding the GA line.
ARIS SILIVERDIS: Dallas was my first Pearl Jam show experienced from behind the stage. The view was unobstructed and the sound proved to be fine, but I was a little envious of the fans down in the front. The GA pit in Dallas must have been one of the smallest of the tour. It appeared to be no more than ten “rows” deep. Opening this show was Midlake from Denton, Texas. Their music is gorgeous, and they got a polite response. One very attentive fan was Jeff Ament, who could be seen on the side of the stage for most of Midlake’s set. But having an opening act did not mean that Pearl Jam shortened their own time on stage much, and we were treated to more than thirty songs. “Can’t Keep” was an early highlight, especially after an absence of more than five years.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK // Nov. 16, 2013 // Chesapeake Energy Arena

Pearl Jam Matt Cameron Jeff Ament Stone Gossard OKC 2013 Photo by Aris Siliverdis
Matt, Stone, Jeff (Photo: A. Siliverdis)
Eddie Vedder, eyes closed, up close. (Photo: Aris Siliverdis)
Mike snaps a pic of Jeff and Ed (Photo by Aris Siliverdis)
Parting Ways: Jeff bows his fretless
BRIAN SMITH: It’s still dark, no one’s in Oklahoma City and it’s raining on the pictured faces of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The GA line’s barely started. Sweet. One of the best secrets fan-recorded bootlegs revealed in the mid-1990s: PJ’s best shows are often in the smallest cities. OKC’s been my best bet for months; the perfect way to end a perfect seven-show run and connect 1996/’98/2000/’03 PJ with 2013. Everyone waiting only has one goal and they’re going to live off the shows for years.
The OKC GA wait is even smoother than Dallas. All those who danced in Dallas are buzzing, highly caffeinated and highly sleep-deprived. The whole day is an endurance rest, watching hours tick and randomly catching up on temporary sleep while meeting new faces. Then a 2013 GA wonder: the front of the line is escorted in early and everyone who waited gets a spot. High-fives, instant photos, the calming comfort of a large steel rail. Show time.
PJ takes Dallas, pockets a strong one that will last, and then creates OKC. “Wash” is the second-best thing to “Release” and it’s a beauty in the rainy land of Durant. Then “Sometimes.” “Wash” into “Sometimes?” Really? My god. By “Small Town,” the arena is glowing, everyone is singing and there’s a fire slowly burning in downtown OKC. “Mind Your Manners” is only rivaled by “Lightning Bolt” as the best live song from the new record and “Lightning” gets sharper and thicker every night. Ed roars, Stone pulls out his 1992 groove/bounce/jump dance-thing, Jeff locks in low, Mike shines and Matt Fucking Cameron brilliantly beats the hell out of his kit, surrounding a wall of thick rhythm with jagged rock, jazz, punk, complexity, simplicity and precision.
“Animal” is a 1993 kick, but sharper than ever. Then OKC immediately becomes a small-city bootleg keeper-to-be: “MFC,” “In Hiding,” “Whipping” and “Immortality” before the set’s half-full. Whew. And Ed’s totally fucking with the crowd. “Welcome to [the] home of the Oklahoma Thunder… Are they trying to rub it in?” he says, trading smiles with Jeff.
Soon, there’s a proposal. Some girl starts shouting near the rail. Ed stops the show. Then he starts crying. The girl becomes a soon-to-be married bride while the GA sea parts and a spotlight shines down. It’s sincere, real and unplanned.
A solo “Just Breathe” into a golden “Yellow Moon” into a haunting “Parting Ways.” Why doesn’t PJ play The South? Finally, Sonics time in the Thunder’s packed arena. A green-and-yellow Durant jersey for Jeff. No. 1 signs for Sacramento and Howard Schultz. “Supersonic” is nailed. Fuck. Yeah. “Satan’s Bed” is next. Never. Stop. Pogoing. “State” is straight out of 1992. “Black” is a movie. “Baba” is The Who at their peak, but better. And the second leg of Lightning Bolt 2013 has just begun. The keys are handed to the West Coast. Dig in. Time to find the car, start the drive back home and wait for the bootlegs. PJ: 1990-current.
ARIS SILIVERDIS: Before this tour started, “Wash” was one of the classic songs that I was hoping to hear live for the first time. As Pearl Jam opened their show in OKC, I was fortunate to be hearing it for the third time in a month. Among the many songs played this night, the one that distinguishes this show from all the others I have seen is “Parting Ways.” Ed’s guitar sounded so crisp, and Jeff used a bow to play his upright bass. The song was more epic than I had even imagined it could be.

SAN DIEGO, CA // Nov. 21, 2013 // Viejas Arena

Outside Viejas: The GA line aka camping. (Photo by Thais Campos)
Inside Viejas: Ed live
Pearl Jam Eddie Vedder San Diego 2013 Photo by Thais Campos
Ed in the crowd (Photo: T. Campos)
Vedder out on the rail with fans (Photo: Thais Campos)
PEARL JAM Matt Cameron and RAy San Diego San Diego 2013 Photo Thais Campos
Family Jam: Matt & his son Ray (w/ Ed’s guitar) rock
Matt (Photo: Thais Campos)
RICH WILSON: The southern California shows were late additions for me. The shows I on saw on the first leg were so great I just had to add something else before the final show in Seattle so I flew down to San Diego to hit the show with one of my original PJ homies, Mike Norrby, with whom I saw 11/1/95, 10/19/96, 10/20/96 and 11/18/97. It had been years, though, since we’d seen a show together and we were stoked. There was also the San Diego factor this show had going for it — i.e. that it’s one of Ed’s home towns. Like a Chicago show, you know it is gonna be something special.
The motif established on the first leg, with “Pendulum” followed by a couple more slow songs, held true on much of the second leg as well. San Diego was another example: it was “Pendulum,” “Nothingman” and then “Sometimes” before getting down to the business of kicking our asses in for three hours and change. The main set contained tasty album cuts like “Tremor Christ,” “In Hiding” and “Army Reserve.” The band was in high spirits, Ed’s Mom got passed some wine from halfway across the venue. Deep albums cuts kept coming as the encore opened with “Sleight of Hand” which was later followed by the first full-band rendition of “Sleeping by Myself.” With several shows to spare, the band had played every song on “Lightning Bolt.”

LOS ANGELES // Nov. 23, 2013 // Los Angeles Sports Arena

Pearl Jam LA 1 2013 Photo by Su May Ong
Matt & Stone (Photo: Su May Ong)
Eddie bats a light on its tether (Photo: Thais Campos)
PEARL JAM LA 1 2013 Photo Thais Campos
Eddie goes for a ride (Photo by Thais Campos)
Jeff (Photo: Thais Campos)
SU MAY ONG: My first Leg 2 show, I arrived at the arena at what I thought was insanely early “for the West Coast” (throughout the years, I had heard about how much more laid back West Cost fans were) and was happy to see that there were 40+ people who had arrived before me: the pit was clearly going to be full of energy.
It wasn’t long before the people in line around me started chatting like we were old friends. Jeremy from San Francisco was psyched from having gotten to meet Stone at an earlier show on tour. Danielle and Mick from Australia were celebrating anniversary: they had met in line at a PJ show almost two years ago to the day. They did not have GA tickets yet, but were hopeful. Mick managed to pull off trade after trade that eventually landed him with two prized GA tickets!
Inside, I secured a spot on the rail on Stone’s side, and was happy to see that most of our group in line landed in their desired spots. While the double openers were staples by that point of the tour, we were blessed with three opening songs that night: “Pendulum” into “Release” into “Long Road.” This would also be the show where I would first hear “Getaway,” my favorite song on “Lightning Bolt.”
At one point during the show, Mike was all of a sudden in front of me, soloing. It was mind-blowing to be that close in proximity while Mike was in his element. I loved the “Indifference” closer, to me Indifference is more of a pause than an ending to a show, and it got me excited for what was to come the next night. For other geeks out there, “Indifference” also closed out night 1 of the three earlier two-show cities (Worcester, Brooklyn and Philly).
LA1: Another special night.
SHANON MONROE: Sitting in front of the computer for weeks reading about Leg 1 and all its euphoric moments, we were finally getting our shot. In 21 years of PJ shows, I had never seen one from behind the stage, but there was something freeing about it. We were behind stage, looking over Stone’s left shoulder and it was glorious! From that vantage point, there was loads to see and take in: watching all the behind-the-scenes action with guitar changes, quiet moments between Stone and Boom or Matt while Ed was talking, looking out at the crowd straight on, watching the screen from the other side and getting close-ups of Stone shredding through “Garden” and “Mind Your Manners,” and more. Finally having my beloved “Sirens” fill up my ears and heart live and in person for the first time, well, there were no words, only singing through my (euphoric) tears. And from the new to the old with “Footsteps”, they owned us.

LOS ANGELES // Nov. 24, 2013 // Los Angeles Sports Arena

Pearl Jam LA 2 2013 Photo by Jessica Letkemann
Ed says hi (Photo: J. Letkemann)
PEARL JAM LA 2 2013 PHOTO BY Thais Campos
McCready during a slower one (Photo: Thais Campos)
PEARL JAM LA 2 2013 Photo Thais Campos
Eddie points his Tele (Photo by Thais Campos)
Jeff jams pink (Photo: Thais Campos)
JESSICA LETKEMANN: I’m still not sure what time zone I’m in, having flown from New York the previous morning and rocked with my tour partner Paris in his great Stone-side fan club seats the night before. It’s 6:30pm and I’m “second row” from the rail in GA for LA2, feeling so fortunate. I started the day thinking I’d be in a behind-the-stage Ticketmaster seat but Thais, the Brazilian fan I’d run into at so many shows, had offered me a friend’s extra GA out of the blue just because. “Oceans,” “Low Light” and “Present Tense” guide us in.” That’s the runway, with “Interstellar/Corduroy” we’ve got lift-off in this cavernous, old-school place. Eddie speaks seriously of Roskilde and Lou Reed, playing Reed’s tender “After Hours” alone. Stone grooves through the rare “No Way” and I’m knocked over by “Love, Reign O’er Me.” Thank you, L.A. I’ve got two more coming this week, hopping up the coast, and I’m gliding in the slipstream.
JUAN CAMILO CAMPOS: I planned a weekend vacation with my girlfriend, Colombia to Los Angeles just for the Pearl Jam shows. We didn’t have tickets for the second night, but we were lucky at the box office. It’s a lovely opening with “Oceans” and “Low Light,” then one of my favorites, “Present Tense.” I have listened to “Given To Fly” many times, but that night night the guitars spoke to me. For the first encore we got some classic stuff, “Better Man” with “Save it For Later” and “Daughter” with the “Another Brick in the Wall” tag. Then came the stools and the Velvet Underground cover “After Hours” dedicated to Lou Reed. The second appearance of “Sleeping By Myself” was beautiful. During the “Alive” solo, Mike tries to reach Gene Simmons in the audience.

OAKLAND, CA // Nov. 26, 2013 // Oracle Arena

Pearl Jam OAKLAND 2013 Photo by Jessica Letkemann
We line up. (Photo: J. Letkemann)
Yield signs bounded the Oakland GA line. Photo op! (Photo: Ong)
PEARL JAM OAKLAND 2013 Photo Jessica Letkemann
McCready-Gossard guitar summit (Photo by Jessica Letkemann)
EV & tambourine (Photo: Su May Ong)
Pearl Jam OAKLAND 2013 Photo by SU MAY ONG
Jeff’s Warriors Jersey (Photo: Ong)
Eddie & Mike do “the lean.” (Photo: Thais Campos)
JESSICA LETKEMANN: I’m on BART hurtling towards the arena in the middle of an industrial wasteland before I’m really awake, rocking my way through a week of PJ in the west — having flown cross-country to the LA shows and now up the coast. It’s 8am and security has the GA line pitched out at the edge of the parking lot, wedged between Yield signs, which quickly become a photo op. I’m number 33.
It’s a weird day, I’m working via iPhone for some of it, feeling responsible for the newbie friend who’d come with me to experience her first PJ GA and is struggling with the low-fi wait. I meet the first-in-line woman who was mugged before dawn outside the arena, and other fans chip in so she is able to continue her trip. By the time doors open, my friend has taken urgently ill and bailed, but I’m serene, I’m feeling this is all going to work out great. I get stuck in the slow metal detector line and watch other fans stream by, but I’m calm. Then I’m sprinting across the floor and there’s a miraculous spot left on the rail right in front of where Eddie will be. I’m there. Su May is next to me on the left, and on the right, I meet a local named Mitch who is beyond excited. Behind us, bearded gentlemen, grinning. We all bond.
The lights go down and my endorphins flow freely. A three-fer opener lulls us in (“Pendulum” swings into “Nothingman” into “Small Town”) before “Why Go” slams in. I’m swept away, giddy and front row center and the band keeps bringing it. The unit of us five fans down front are dancing feverishly, smiling, singing our faces off, my hair is everywhere and I’m airborne half the time.
The fan who was robbed is further down the rail with a sign explaining, and Ed sees it and they play “Faithfull” for her. Later, he talks about the hypocrisy of Dick Cheney being against same sex marriage even though his daughter is gay and jokes that one-person same-sex marriage should be legal just so Dick Cheney can wed Dick Cheney and “go fuck himself.”
“Sirens” arrives and I see that Mitch, to my right, is getting a little emotional. We’re all joining Ed on the extended “aah ooh” outro, and again the power of seeing all five members of PJ singing together hits me.
Highlights abound: they play “Last Kiss” to Bridge School kids side stage; John Doe from X comes out for “New World.” But there are two moments that sum up this beautiful 37-song (!) Oakland show for me: 1) At the end of a smoldering “Black,” Eddie comes down off the stage and up on the rail literally right in front of/above us to sing, as close as he could possibly be. I’m at Ed’s right, Mitch is at his left and holding his left hand the whole time. We’re all so happy, singing along. I look over at Mitch and I see he is openly weeping. 2) The lights are on for “Fuckin’ Up,” and I’m a blur, so far into it. There is a point when Eddie looks me in the eye, leans over and hands me my very first EV tambourine. I’m ecstatic, and it’s a feeling that lasts.
SHANNON MONROE: Hometown show, my hood, my backyard! Let people talk all they want about Oakland, California, but the Bay Area loves Pearl Jam. It was more than a show; it was a reunion of old friends, some I never see unless there’s a Pearl Jam tour, and it’s one of the top reasons so many of us love this band.
From the John Doe cameo, to the heartwarming songfest for the Bridge School kids, down to the fan-favorite “Smile”; there were many highlights. But nothing moved me more than “Untitled,” as usual. I’ll never be able to explain it. That song brings out the ugly cry in me. Thank goodness my bestie and tour buddy these 21 years, Kathy, understands and lets me have my moment. Everyone around us was feeling the music as well. Over three hours, Pearl Jam graced my city. Well done, Oakland.
SU MAY ONG: I was not supposed to spend all day in the GA line in Oakland, but the temptation to rock out with my buddies was too strong to resist and I wound up scoring a GA ticket at 10pm the night before from a fan who’s ticket buddy had cancelled at the last minute.
Inside, I managed to secure a prime rail spot in front of Ed. The group of us were pogoing in unison the entire show. Ed must have noticed; I felt his eyes on us for a big part of the night. “Down” was a special treat, it’s one of my favorite songs. “You can’t be neutral, on a moving train…” has been a good reminder to me whenever I have felt stuck in my life, which seems to happen increasingly more often with age.
Jeff puts on a Warriors jersey at one point, to which Ed takes a poke at the now non-existent Seattle basketball team. In response, Mike gestures excitedly at my friend Jeremy who is wearing a Seattle Sonics T-shirt. Jeremy throws his shirt on stage, and Mike is now in possession of it. At the start of the second encore, Ed praises a fan behind us, Obie (“The good looks are on the surface but he’s had such a good energy, that’s something you can’t fake”) and plays “Smile” (Obie had a sign requesting it).
Moments like those reinforce the relationship us fans have with the band, and why so many of us travel the country and the world to see their shows: Night after night, PJ still finds ways to connect.

PORTLAND, OR // Nov. 29, 2013 // Moda Center

Pearl Jam PORTLAND 2013 Photo by Su May Ong
Stone, on his knees (Photo: Su May Ong)
Eddie V. post tambourine-toss (Photo: Thais Campos)
Sleater-Kinney! EV sings with Carrie Brownstein, Janet Weiss
Ed’s mic stand yoga (Photo: Su May Ong)
Pearl Jam PORTLAND 2013 Photo by SU MAY ONG
Son Ray brings Matt birthday cake
Ed with Carrie Brownstein & Scott McCaughey (Photo: T.Campos)
JESSICA LETKEMANN: We all have an iffy show experience sometimes, and Portland was mine. The band was good; loose, happy, hosting both a birthday cake for Matt (brought out by his son Ray), and nothing less than a Sleater-Kinney reunion during “Rockin’ In The Free World” (cue all the “Portlandia” jokes you want, Carrie Brownstein is one of my favorite guitarists). Heck, R.E.M.’s Peter Buck is also out there on stage to jam. Even the very ill Tomas Young, the Iraq War vet from “Body of War,” is at the show, and Eddie makes a passionate speech about what he’s been through. And Mudhoney is on hand opening, always a plus.
All of my PJ previous reserved seats this year have been fun time, but despite being surrounded by fan club members, there’s one in Portland that mars the show for at least two rows of people including me. He’s so drunk he’s either bellowing incoherently at the top of his lungs during and between songs or he’s crashing into everyone around him. His wife stands nervously by, trying to reign him in, to little avail. It’s a shame. But I focus on the music as best I can, and it makes me smile nevertheless. Just a day after Thanksgiving, I’m not taking any of this for granted. I go home before Spokane, but I’m coming back for Seattle.

SPOKANE, WA // Nov. 30, 2013 // Spokane Arena

Pearl Jam SPOKANE 2013 Photo by Su May Ong
Light operators pre-climb (Photo: Ong)
Eddie barbers a fan’s dreads (Photo: Thais Campos)
PEARL JAM Spokane 2013 Photo SU MAY ONG
Stone sings! (Photo: Ong)
Jeff takes a double drink (Photo: Thais Campos)
SU MAY ONG: Right before the show started, I spied Steve Gleason and his family heading to their seats, and I was instantly hopeful of a Steve-curated setlist. And sure enough, that’s what we got. ”I Won’t Back Down” being Steve’s request made it all the more meaningful, and I found myself tearing up a little. “Well I know what’s right, I got just one life / In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around / I’ll stand my ground and I won’t back down.”
I was in GA on Stone’s side again for this show, amongst a bunch of super enthusiastic Stone fans and we chanted his name whenever there was an opportunity. We were eventually rewarded with “Don’t Gimme No Lip”! It was extra cool see Ed earnestly setting up the Stone’s music stand to hold Stone’s lyric sheets (so that he didn’t “mess up the words”).
Yet another fan got his Pearl Jam moment that night. Early on, Ed noticed a guy holding up a sign requesting to have his hair cut on stage. Later PJ granted his request for Brain of J and then Ed hacked away at his long blond dreadlocks. The band improv’d groovy ambience music as they looked on in amusement.
The final surprise of the night was “Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love,” now clearly not the “one time, one time only” event Ed declared at the Hartford 2010 (it was played again at this year’s Hartford show). Witnessing Mike covering Van Halen is always a treat.

VANCOUVER B.C., Canada // Dec. 4, 2013 // Rogers Arena

“Porch”: Mike plays with the lights (Photo by Rebecca Carfagna)
Jeff (photo: R.Carfagna)
“Yellow Moon” on the rise (Photo by Rebecca Carfagna)
McCready (Photo: R.Carfagna)
The band bows with Ed saying hi to the back. (Photo: R.Carfagna)
REBECCA CARFAGNA: It’s 8am, 24 degrees outside, and I’m bundled up from head to toe in a winter coat and long johns I purchased the night before I left Los Angeles. I run into a girl on the backside of Rogers Arena under a sign that says Floor Entrance. For an exhilarating and very confusing minute we think we’re first in line. We weren’t. We eventually find the GA line on the other side. I’m #38. The line in Vancouver is a happy one with fans sharing blankets and swapping PJ stories, but I feel a weird energy floating around the arena.
We get into the venue safely and find a spot close to the center. We accept that this is where we’ll be for the night when I look to my left and see several feet of rail open on Jeff & Mike’s side. Why are we not over there?! We sprint over and claim our spots on the open rail. Amazing.
In that moment I finally lock into the energy I was feeling earlier. Vancouver becomes a touchstone in my life. I’ve made this journey once before, 2011 for the final show of the Canadian tour after PJ20. My 10C tickets that night turned into 2nd row seats in front of Mike. Although this is a different venue today, it’s insane to me that I’m in the same city, same side of the stage, and in the front row. I feel as if I’ve just met myself on the other side of two years.
Mudhoney gets the adrenaline pumping which ignites into euphoria as Pearl Jam takes the stage to “Pendulumorphosis”. Has Philip Glass heard this mash up yet? After a long audience welcome Pearl Jam gives us three beautiful openers, “Oceans”, “Can’t Keep”, and “Low Light.” Wait… “Can’t Keep”?! Two songs later “Breakerfall”?! Six songs in and we get our first song off “Lightning Bolt.” They shred through “Mind Your Manners.” Jeff rips into the bass line for “Why Go” and comes to the front of the stage to play directly in front of us. “Gods’ Dice” was a sweet surprise.
My winter coat is wrapped around my waist and with the jumping Mike is demanding from us during “Lightning Bolt” I’m starting to really get a workout. I love it. Play forever please.
With “Even Flow” Ed visits our area with a bottle of wine. The guy next to me doesn’t have a cup and holds out his hands. Ed gives him one of his picks instead.
“Setting Forth” is a celebration. I love seeing the guys line up at the end of “Sirens.” I call that moment the “hero shot.” There’s an improv and I wonder what motivated the lyrics for Ed. I see Jeff tilt his head briefly. Maybe he wondered too? Great “Porch”: Swinging Ed; Mike on his knees; Jeff cracks a lantern and puts a big broken piece of it on his head as a hat.
Ed appears after the break with a ukulele. He says “Soon Forget” hasn’t been played on this tour, an understatement. It hasn’t been played with the band in seven years (the last time was Nov. 30, 2006 in Oahu, Hawaii). I haven’t heard it with them since my 2nd show ever and all of a sudden I’m transported to August 2000 in Greensboro, NC. Crazy.
My soul is stolen for a moment during “Mother”. Ed’s voice, Stone on acoustic, and Mike’s solo are amazing. Back on their feet for “Given To Fly.” A pick from Mike floats in front of me and I catch it with one hand.
The end of “Better Man” has a great jam with Jeff, Mike, Ed and Stone all playing to each other. These guys make me happy. Ed visits us again during “Alive” this time pouring wine all over the hands of the guy with no cup. Awesome. Tambourines fly into the hands of people around me.
“Kick Out the Jams!” with Mudhoney’s Mark Arm and Steve Turner rocks. “Yellow Ledbetter” to end and a gold medal dismount from Matt Cameron on the drum kit. 36 songs. Mike hands out a few 45s of music from a film he scored. Thrilling night. Back into the cold for a few hours of sleep before an early train takes me into Seattle for the final show of the tour. 10 shows in total. A surplus of memories.

SEATTLE // Dec. 6, 2013 // Key Arena

6am: Seattle GA line near the Space Needle (Photo: Su May Ong)
Pearl Jam SEATTLE 2013 Photo by THAIS CAMPOS
The Key sign (Photo: Thais Campos)
Dawn at Seattle Center (Photo: T.Campos)
Eddie’s got enough wine for a loooong show (Photo: Su May Ong)
Jeff & Stone, still rocking Seattle after 29 years together
Cold GA fans camped in PJ merch boxes
Ed climbs for ‘Porch’ (Photo: S. Monroe)
Maestro Mike, behind-the-back with eyes closed! (Photo: Campos)
Mike and Eddie, feeling it (Photo: Su May Ong)
EV: ‘Porch’ swing (Photo: J. Letkemann)
Pearl MudGarden? Mike takes a pic of Eddie, Mudhoney’s Mark Arm and Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil (Photo: Shannon Monroe)
Matt F%cking Cameron says, ‘Goodnight, Seattle’ (Photo: S. Monroe)
JESSICA LETKEMANN: One after-work flight from New York. Four hours of sleep. Five layers of clothes. My tour partner Paris and I are circumnavigating Key Arena in the dark at 4 a.m., looking for the GA line. It’s the last show, the band in it’s hometown, the tour ender: we are going to put in whatever hours it takes and endure whatever temperature we have to rock the rail for this one. We’re 36 and 37 in line. It’s well below freezing, but at dawn us fans from all over the world are basking in the sun, taking pictures with the PJ merch trailer and the Space Needle as backdrops. Guzzling gallons of Starbucks. Camped out in sleeping bags, huddled in PJ t-shirt and poster tube boxes. Cameraderie flows. Doors open and we race in. Paris and I land on the rail in front of Stone, surrounded by friends.
“Pendulum” howls, and it is on. There is joy in the air. Songs fly. The muscle of Stone’s guitars locking with Mike’s, Jeff thrumming out the groove and Matt stitching the beat while Eddie’s voice ties it all together. I’m in a frenzy, singing, dancing. A gorgeous “Garden” hits me over the head, and the elusive “Getaway” follows. By the PJ Stat Tracker app, I know I’ve seen “Even Flow” at all but two of the 2013 shows I’ve been to, but still this old warhorse grabs me — particularly as their pentangular jam takes shape. Then there’s the audiophile double-dip of “Let The Records Play” into “Spin The Black Circle.”
Somewhere along the way, time is only the present, and there’s no where else in the entire world I’d rather be then. Inside this big now, the 14-hours in 26 degrees was just part of the journey, worth every second for this. “Cold wind blows at the soles of my feet,” Eddie croons. And a roar engulfs Key Arena for “Let Me Sleep,” which almost no one can say they’ve ever heard live. It’s Christmastime indeed.
Eddie reminds us how precious and not-promised life can be, talking of a little girl who had a feeling she should beg her dad to go out on the rough water in Hawaii 13 years ago despite the danger, and whose keen ears heard the faint voices of people flailing in the ocean about to drown. Eddie tells us one of those flailing people was him. The girl saved his life and she’s here tonight. They hug. “Future Days” is played. I realize I’d been holding my breath, so moved by this story.
Eventually Mark Arm and Steve Turner of Mudhoney, who had opened, return to the stage to “KICK OUT THE JAMS!” along with Matt’s Soundgarden bandmate Kim Thayil on guitar. Everyone’s bouncing around. The lights are up. It’s a big party. The love beams at the band from the crowd. The love beams at the crowd from the band. There’s “Ledbetter” with the sweet, sweet bonus of the McCready-fied “Little Wing” and we know it’s almost time to say goodbye for the year. I’m staggered by the many amazing PJ shows I’ve seen in 2013, but Seattle tops them all for me. I’m 2500 miles from home, I’m right at home.
SHANNON MONROE: My 99th Pearl Jam show is in their hometown. What else is there to say? Our friend blessed Kathy and I with incredible seats. PJ surprised me by jumping from the insane beauty of my favorite classic “Black” to the fun groove of “Let the Records Play” straight into the fire of “Spin the Black Circle.” Hearing the opening chords of “Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns”, followed by “Breath” and “State of Love and Trust” — four from “Singles” — we were all reminded just how long these guys have been making music together, especially Stone and Jeff; and just what their own chosen family have given us. Once again, the tears flowed, but as usual, it’s all about the love. I smiled through those songs with hands raised in the air in gratitude. At the end of any tour, there’s always time for reflections and flashes of sadness that it’s over, but we could easily assuage those feelings by the immediate reveling in the fandom’s frenzied discussion over the next tour. My soul was sated in Seattle, but just until next time.


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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