Of all of the bands that I have seen (and photographed) from the 1990's, Pearl Jam always seems to elude me. I grew up listening to albums like Ten and Vs. I had the chance to see them in their hometown of Seattle a few years back, but due to unforeseen circumstances could not make the show, which I'm still kicking myself in the ass for.
Finally though, they will be coming to Las Vegas on May 20th to the MGM Grand Garden Arena. So, what do I want to hear? Fucking plenty. Of course we're going to hear things like "Jeremy" and "Even Flow", both from Ten, but what about some of the other tracks throughout the past three decades? If I had to give you ten (no pun intended) tracks I want to hear (outside of the ones that are a given), they'd be as follows:
10. Footsteps from the Jeremy Single.
A beautiful acoustic track that is absolutely up there with the likes of "Black", "Footsteps" is one that if I was to hear those opening chords, I'd be jumping for joy and singing my lungs out. Off of the Jeremy single along with "Yellow Ledbetter", it is often overshadowed by the songs on the single album.
It's a forgotten song, which is probably something I love so much about it. It was destined in a way to be forgotten, based on the kind of bluesy acoustic guitar underneath Eddie Vedder's crackling voice during the apex of the song.
"Oh, just let me continue to blame you..."
9. Sirens from Lightning Bolt
Although this is so low on the list, this is probably my favorite Pearl Jam track from the "newer" years. Yeah, I know the song is almost 10 years old, but that's not the point.
The first time I ever heard this song, what stuck out to me was the almost muted drums from Matt Cameron. What drives this song more than anything is the bass line from Jeff Ament. It manipulates your brain and heartbeat, and the way it leads up the octave during the pre-chorus, it carries you along. As I got older, and listened to the lyrics, especially after falling in love and finding my person, ugh. It brings tears to my eyes every fucking time I hear it. Then you have guitars and pianos that almost sound like hidden sirens throughout the song behind Vedder's vocal line in the chorus. If you have not heard this song before, I really don't want to take the magic away from you.
It really is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. I mean, like, up there with Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight" and songs like that. Grab a pair of headphones where you can hear all of the vocal layers and lie down and open your heart to it.
"I didn't care before you were here. I danced in laughter with the ever after."
8. Bugs from Vitalogy
Absolutely unpopular, but since it is not played often, "Bugs" has to be on this list.
According to setlist.fm, the weird track off of Vitalogy has only been played 9 times, 3 of them by the band as a whole, 5 by Vedder solo, and once by The Pass Outs. I can understand why they don't play it live. It's not the best, but I think any Pearl Jam fan would love to see it done.
All I'm saying is if Eddie walks on stage with an accordion, I can die happy.
"And now the question is, do I kill them? Become their friend?"
7. Red Mosquito from No Code
When you start a song with a McCready solo, you can count me in. The entire No Code record is one that I find underrated, but this song just grabs me immediately. Mix wise, it is more guitar forward, with Vedder's vocals almost getting lost. In a way, that works for the song because it shows you just how good the marriage between Mike McCready and Stone Gossard's individual styles is. "Red Mosquito" is in a way riff after riff and solo after solo without overplaying, which is hard to accomplish because at some point solos seem over indulgent. Not with this though.
"I was bitten. Must have been the devil..."
6. Do the Evolution from Yield
"Do the Evolution" is just a fun song. It's grungey and dirty and could have easily been on Ten, but it holds its own on Yield. It sounds like it is poorly recorded or done so through a phone in someone's garage. It's just raw, and if it does not get you dancing around your apartment, then nothing will.
"I'm the first mammal to wear pants."
5. Release from Ten
Another guitar forward song, this is one of my absolute favorites of PJ's entire catalogue. It's almost like a grunge lullaby. Vedder's deep baritone lulls you through the ins and outs of each guitar part, layered over each other like petals. I'm not sure why, but I really feel like if they did this live, I could let a lot out by singing along; whether that be trauma, sadness, anger, or just overall emotion, this is a stand on the mountain and scream it out song. I know that seems contradictory, but just... believe me. It's both.
"I'll wait up in the dark for you to speak to me..."
4. Nothingman from Vitalogy
This song is just... sad. I don't think it was written that way, but to me it's just a sad song; the kind you listen to on a rainy day. Regardless of that, I adore it. It swells and softens in the right spots. Per usual, you can feel Vedder's emotions throughout the song. I don't know why I want to see it done live other than the fact it's beautifully written and I'm not sure it would be in their normal setlist.
"She once believed in every story he had to tell..."
3. Why Go from Ten
I am not sure I could leave a Pearl Jam show completely satisfied without hearing "Why Go". Extremely drum driven, I think it is a perfect example of Dave Krussen's drumming, and a testament to his mark on PJ history. It's got a funky guitar and bass line, dark lyrics, and is one of those songs that when I think of everything that PJ is, is on the top of my list.
"She's been diagnosed by some stupid fuck, and mommy agrees."
2. Touch Me I'm Dick from Poncier/Singles Film/Citizen Dick
Yeah, yeah, I know. This one is not going to happen.
If you haven't seen the classic Cameron Crowe film "Singles", then I have to eternally shame you until you do. I mean, really... So, in the film, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, and Eddie Vedder, along with Matt Dillon's character Cliff Poncier are in a band called Citizen Dick, who do a song "Touch Me I'm Dick", which is basically Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick". Again, I know it won't happen, but if it did... oof. Kill me where I stand I'll be 100% happy.
"Touch Me I'm Dick in essence speaks for itself... I think a lot of people might think it's about you know... My name is Dick and you can touch me, but it can be seen either way."
1. Spin the Black Circle from Vitalogy
The first time I visited Seattle, this is what greeted my ears as I landed. It's a straight forward punk song, and one I hold near and dear to my heart. While I'm not big on Vitalogy as a whole (yeah I know three of the album's song made the list, shut up), this is one of the songs I absolutely never skip. Every time I hear it I'm transported back to the rainy city that holds my heart, and seeing it live will transport me even more so. I'm hoping they do it.
"Oh, my joy, only you deserve conceit..."
Welp. There you have it. I hope to see all of you at the show at MGM on May 20th here in Vegas.
For information on the show and the rest of the tour, check out Pearl Jam's Official Website.