Pearl Jam: June 5, 2003
San Diego, CA - San Diego Sports Arena
support: Idlewild

Main Set:
Better Man
Do The Evolution
Save You
Given To Fly
Get Right
Even Flow
I Am Mine
1/2 Full
Thumbing My Way
Not For You
Present Tense

Encore 1:
You Are
Elderly Woman
Daughter/(People Have The Power)
Elderly Woman
Crazy Mary

Encore 2:
Blue Red Grey
Sonic Reducer

Encore 3:
Baba O'Riley

Notes: Here is the ridiculously long journal entry I wrote a few days after the show:

Thursday, June 5: San Diego

Flew from Fresno to LA and then to San Diego. I had not flown since October '01 and it was quite an eye-opening experience to see all of the federal TSA employees at the airports. They really go over you and your bags with a fine-toothed comb! The weather was cloudy, cool, and wet in the Southland. Luckily, I was comfortable enough in a shirt and light sweater.

After a brief but quickly-resolved snafu with my bag, I waited outside the commuter terminal for pickup from Mark's Shuttle Service, which actually was Brad & Mark's Shuttle Service with a side of Kari for no extra charge! Score! I cannot tell you how awesome it was to see those three again. The trip experience became more real and more exciting once I was in their presence.

We headed over to the San Diego Rock (Sports, really) Arena and took our places in the fanclub line. Gardner's friend Mike graciously acted as a placekeeper for me, roughly making us even for the trip to Pleasanton I gave them the prior weekend. G and I were using fanclub numbers in the same block, so I was pretty sure we'd get seats together.

They finally opened the window around 3:30-ish and Gardner and I did indeed get seats together in the 14th row on Stoney's side. Brad was in front of us with Srikant, so we had a nice little group altogether there: Srikant, Brad, Kari, myself, Gardner, and Mike. It made up for being on Stone's side. ;)

Brad took Kari and I to our Motel6 to check in, and we got something to eat and then came back to the motel to get ready for the show. On the drive back over to the arena we listened to "Thunderclap," an instrumental track on the Touring Band 2000 DVD which I absolutely love. It's perfect pre-show music because it carries this feeling of excitement and anticipation with it and I get so bouncy and pumped up whenever I hear it.

Okay, I'm trying to keep this less-detailed than my Coldplay/PJ weekend write up from last week, so let's cut to the show:

Alright. They'd soundchecked Oceans before some of the previous shows, so my hopes were riding high that they'd open with it here, especially since I've never seen it live before. So when we got Betterman, of all songs, instead, it was like all of the air went out of my balloon! Kari and I expressed our mutual disgust to each other. They've just played this song to death, for me. It gets played at almost every single show and I am really tired of hearing it when there is SO much else in their catalog that gets ignored in favor of the same basic meat and potatoes like Betterman, Corduroy, and Even Flow. But hey, at least playing it first gets it out of the way, right? ;-P We didn't get a Save It For Later tag, though, so I was down 2 with only 1 chance (Vegas) to go.

The crowd was loud and enthusiastic, though, and sang the first chorus and verse on their own quite well.

After that we had a nice string of rockers: Do the Evolution, Save You (they could play this song 25 times in a row and I'd be happy!), Animal, Given to Fly (yay!!! I love, love, loooove this song), Get Right (woo! Had wanted to hear this one, too.), and Even Flow.

I was sweaty from head to toe by this point. Jeans felt pretty ridiculous. But it was F-U-N fun!

I Am Mine, if nothing else, at least provides for a breather.

Corduroy is a classic, but it's just starting to wear thin for me.

½ Full –ah, now here we go! They should play this at every show. It's a rocker, but in a grander, more sweeping way than, say, Do the Evolution or Save You. And it may be cheesey, but I love Ed's hand motions, "won't someone save...the world..?" and the mirror he uses to reflect light on all parts of the audience. They could also play this one 25 times in a row and I'd be happy. heh.

Wishlist and Thumbing My Way –my only use for these two songs is as a period of much-needed rest.

Not For You – I don't LOVE it, I don't dislike it, either. During this song, a tiny young woman had climbed over the seats behind us and plopped herself between Kari and I. K and I exchanged a look of, "what the fuck?" The girl thanked Kari for "looking out for me" and then she climbed into the row ahead of us. Brad The Man got the attention of nearby security, who promptly got Tiny Girl's ass out of our section. I *hate* it when people crowd! This is MY seat and my extremely limited area to dance in, do NOT fuck with it!

Present Tense –ah, now this is more like it. I couldn't believe I was getting to hear it again! I had Kari's hand gripped tight in my left hand, and Gardner's in my right and we were all so excited to be hearing that song. But Ed fucked up the same lyric not just once, but twice, and that was a wee bit distracting for me. But hey, Present Tense is Present Tense ! (read: GOOD SHIT!) At the end, Kari and I had a big bear hug and I just felt like crying because everything was so damn good.

Blood –UNH! That's a good, thing by the way. "Ugh" is an expression of disgust. "Unh" is like, "oh yeah, baby, Mama likes!" I had not heard this song live in almost eight years. I'd missed it. It's one of my all-time favorite "Do Not Fuck With Me For I Am Supremely Pissed Off And I WILL Kill You" songs. I think it's not as long as it was in the classic days of '94-'96, though.

Rearviewmirror – I think they were trying to kill us by following up with this one. I wanted to wave a white flag and say, "Enough! I give up! Please go to a break because I am dying out here from too much intensity!" Rearviewmirror is always great to hear, and it falls into the same category as Blood, only it's a longer and more melodic song. Blood has more insanity and blind rage in it, imo. They finally ended the main set after this.

The first encore was pretty much a lengthy rest. I suppose we all needed it, but I would've liked more than one true rocker in the bunch:

You Are – I dig this one, it's sexy and the lighting is really neat. I love dancing to it. I need a GUY to dance with, though!

Daughter – eh... this song interests me these days only for whatever Ed chooses to tag onto the end of it. This evening he used Patti Smith's "People Have the Power." Not bad at all, but I wasn't fully familiar with the song.

Elderly Woman – okay guys, we've had our break, you can pick up the pace again! The only cool thing for me on this song is the crowd singing along with, "I just want to scream, 'HELLOOOO!'"

Crazy Mary – What did I say about this at the Shoreline show? "I was happy to see this back in '00 but now it's gotten a little old on me. This year it's cute to watch keyboardist Boom and guitarist Mike get into a solo-jam duel at the end, but it felt like it went on for a loooong time. But the band seemed to be having so much fun, so I don't want to knock that." Yep, that still applies.

Go – Finally! A brutal rocker! My legs were starting to fall asleep for lack of pogo action. Okay, not really, but you get the idea.

encore 2:

Blue Red Grey (the Who) – Ed came out and performed this on his ukulele that looks like a Fender Telecaster. I had never heard the song before but I thought it was very sweet.

Sonic Reducer – WOW. When it started (duh-nuuuuuuuuh!!) I *knew* it was something big but it took a few seconds before I realized what song it was. I love this cover, and I hadn't heard it since my first show, in 1995. But this time was especially cool because Brad had been wanting to hear this song forever, and he FINALLY got it.

Alive – I never get tired of Alive. I don't think it's one of their best songs, but it's so well-known and loved that it gets a great crowd response. I do believe the crowd started the repeated "yeah!"s at the end on their own...? I remember Ed was looking elsewhere on the stage and when he turned around and faced the crowd again to see us raising our fists in the air along with the "yeah!"s, this huge smile bloomed on his face and he put his hand over his heart or made some similar, silent gesture of humble wow-thanks. It was beautiful. =)

encore 3:

Arc – Alright, I've written quite a bit about this in comments to other entries, so some of this may be repetition for you.

The roadies brought out a chair with a box-shaped contraption sitting on it. My companions may have known what was coming, because they knew what the band soundchecked that afternoon, but I deliberately did NOT want to know what was soundchecked, so I could have surprises and no disappointments. I was clueless about what was happening.

Eddie came out and said he was going to try an experiment, but that it wouldn't work unless he had absolute silence. Recalling this portion of the evening gets me kind of frustrated. The crowd would quiet down a bit, but then the drunken idiot assholes would start hooting and hollering and the noise levels would build up again. Ed was clearly getting agitated, and at one point said, "fuck it, I'm not gonna do it." I just wanted to KILL everyone opening their traps. Eventually it quieted down enough that Ed put on a pair of headphones and picked up a microphone hooked up to the machine, and he started to sing...

"Arc" doesn't have words, it's just a capella singing, just sounds. It's clear evidence of the lasting influence that Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan has left behind with Ed. The story is that it is about grief and mourning and loss. "But it has no words...?" Right, well, it was just what came out of Ed in the studio when he was thinking about those things, most likely in relation to the death of 9 members of the crowd during their set at the Roskilde festival in 2000.

So Ed sang a line and the machine recorded it and then played it back, and Eddie sang another line on top of that and both lines looped back. This was repeated so that layers of his voice started to build. Now, I'm not over the moon in love with it on the album – I don't mind it, it's kind of a nice little "come down" before the last track, "All or None," – but seeing it created in front of me was completely different. For me, it was completely and utterly captivating, stunning, moving, emotional, spiritual... I stood there with my jaw on the floor, my eyes wide open and brimming with tears, thinking, "" When that man really sings, there is no voice that can top his in my heart. (Bono's is just....well, a different thing. I love it with all my heart but I think Eddie has the stronger vocal skills these days.)

I remember feeling so blessed and lucky to be in that room that night to see, hear, and experience that performance. It was the highlight of the evening for me and it is something I will never forget.

The crowd was anything but quiet, and at the end, Ed turned the machine off and sang another line or two before finishing the song. His mood seemed rather dark though, and someone else said that Jeff came up to him afterwards and seemed to say or do something reassuring.

(I remember thinking, "oh I cannot wait to relive this with the bootleg!" So when I got home from Vegas on Saturday and caught up with the news, it was a major disappointment to hear that it would not be included on the bootleg. No reason given, just a dismissive, "maybe next time" from a message board mod. It's been performed TWICE since then and none of those performances have been included in the mp3s made available to people who ordered the bootlegs, inferring they won't make it on the mastered boots themselves, either. I just think it's shady to leave the song off the bootleg that you've advertised as being a recording of the show IN ITS ENTIRETY. If I at least knew why , I think it would help, but I feel like the people who are communicating on the band's behalf are treating the fans like children they can ignore. Anyway...back to the show...)

Last but not least:

Baba O'Riley – Any show that ends with Baba gets 100 bonus points from me. I'll always consider the original on Who's Next to be my favorite, but I really adore PJ's version and they've come a long way with it since 1992. Older versions are just embarrassingly awful! Anyway, yeah: houselights up, Ed beating the shit out of poor, defenseless tambourines, the crowd jumping around and the whole band rocking out and having a blast, "we're all waaaaaasteeedddd!" It's just such a great note to end on, ya know?

  • The setlist had its strengths and weaknesses but overall, the show was great for me because I was surrounded by my friends, all of whom are just as devoted to this band, and willing to show it, as me. Eric, the guy I got the tickets from, ended up calling in sick to work and he found someone with an extra ticket that put him just two rows behind me, so that was cool.

  • Eddie talked about the shows he and Matt Cameron had seen in the arena in their teens. The Who, Bowie, Queen, Ted Nugent. He said Ted wore a loincloth, and he was going to wear his that night but he didn't have his bow and arrow, and those things were necessary for the whole thing to work. bwahahaaa

  • He also went off on a goofy-sarcastic ramble about Jewel and some new song she has that's supposedly being used for a commercial. Evidently it's just that the video for the song is made to look like a commercial but I don't think that's dawned on Ed yet.

  • Have I said yet that the crowd was really enthusiastic? Maybe it's just from my perspective, being in the fanclub section, but the majority of people around me were jumping around and singing along with everything. I love crowds like that.

Brad took Kari and I back to our motel after the show and we crashed not too terribly long after that. I was exhausted but I was also so amped up from the show that I wanted to stay up all night, talking about it. I was excited that we were going to get to do the same thing all over again the following day, too. =)

(June 2003)

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