PEARL JAM SHAKE MADISON SQUARE GARDEN WITH INCREDIBLE SET & POLITICAL MESSAGE

It starts in your fingers, that feeling. It rushes up your arms in the form of goosebumps and shivers before it settles into your chest and radiates from there. It’s a powerful substance, capable of many things, but undeniable in its rush. It’s a common language – a sense of belonging that courses through your veins like lightning, tugging your hands upward by the fingertips to mirror its very source onstage. At its strongest, it carries you to an earth-shattering realm of open-mindedness and understanding – a combination of unity and solace that makes you want to grab the whole world by the wrist and catch them at the edge before they fall. It’s the reason a total stranger might tell you, “We’re so lucky to have you,” when you experience it for the very first time (true story). It always takes root, always deeply, and the only thing that can bring it back into bloom is the band that gave it to you in the first place. When is their next show. How can I get there. Will they play the song that changed me. Your brain quickly turns questions into promises, hope into certainty. For around 18,000 fans, that complex feeling coaxed them to NYC’s Madison Square Garden last night, forever in pursuit of its molten glow. And once again, they found it in Pearl Jam.

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Fans and friends on the rail

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Eddie Vedder

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Eddie Vedder

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Mike McCready

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Stone Gossard

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Jeff Ament

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EV

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Mike McCready

Corduroy

Corduroy

 

Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, Matt Cameron, and Boom Gaspar, are, objectively speaking, the greatest live band in the world at this moment in time. And along with their relentless, razor-sharp performance energy, it’s the symbiotic relationship across the rail that has brought them to such a point. Between them and their tens of millions of fans, the loyalty and responsibility to each other is so truly mutual that Pearl Jam becomes not only an experience, a legacy, a string of sought-after ephemera, and a series of sleepless road trips – but a home. At 8:32pm, all those who had found their home in Madison Square Garden were gasping for air between skydiver screams, their inexplicable thrill ringing out in thunderous, unison claps. By 11:28pm, they were whole again – extending shaky hands to help strangers down the stairs, waking up in total peace to the city lights outside. But what had happened in between?

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Mike McCready

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Pearl Jam

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Mike McCready

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Ed Vedder

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EV

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Jeff Ament

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Sir Michael McCready

The Faithful

The Faithful

 

After a straight run of Ten in Philly on Friday, anything could have. In NYC, Pearl Jam’s focus on Ten carried through in 7 songs, though it made up just a small majority of their varied, powerful set. There were some definite surprises in night one, including the sudden interjection of “Dangerous Business” from the soundtrack to Ishtar, a stunning “The End” (much-missed since 2013), two rare Mother Love Bone covers, a never-before-heard cover of “Takin’ It To The Streets” by the Doobie Brothers, and the return of the “Better Man” tag, “Save it for Later” (which hadn’t been dusted off since 2012). Below is their full setlist, accompanied by the dates each song was first/last performed by them and how many times it was played historically before last night, so you can get a feel for each one’s exclusivity. Why? Because every Pearl Jam show deserves to be obsessed over as carefully and meticulously as you probably have been since 11:29pm.

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Mike McCready

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Mike & Jeff

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Mike & Jeff

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E.V.

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Mike

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EdVed

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Eddie Vedder

 

 

“Go” 5.13.93 – 4.23.16 [320]

“Mind Your Manners” 7.16.13 – 4.29.16 [79]

“Corduroy” 3.15.94 – 4.29.16 [522]

“Hail, Hail” 9.14.96 – 4.13.16 [236]

“Given To Fly” 11.12.97 – 4.29.16 [440]

“Low Light” 10.21.01 – 4.28.16 [61]

“Release” 10.22.90 – 4.29.16 [153]

“Even Flow” 10.22.90 – 4.29.16 [796]

“I Got ID” 2.21.95 – 4.21.16 [138] (written as “I Got Shit” on last night’s setlist)

“In Hiding” 1.31.98 – 4.23.16 [86]

“Rats” 5.13.93 – 4.16.16 [56]

“Down” 12.5.02 – 4.9.16 [85]

“Dangerous Business” First played tonight. [0] (Paul Williams cover, from the film, Ishtar)

“Wishlist” 11.12.97 – 4.28.16 [222] (featuring Eddie’s political message, detailed below)

“Jeremy” 2.1.91 – 4.29.16 [513]

“Do the Evolution” 11.12.97 – 4.29.16 [481] (“This is the one where we get seismic!” -Eddie to MSG last night)

“Why Go” 12.22.90 – 4.29.16 [420]

“Lukin” 2.05.95 – 4.26.16 [203]

“Rearviewmirror” 5.13.93 – 4.29.16 [435]

 

Encore:

“The End” 8.11.09 – 11.29.13 [25] (Dedicated to Kevin and Kim, a couple in the MSG crowd who have been battling Kevin’s autoimmune disease together)

“Future Days” 7.19.13 – 4.16.16 [15]

“Off He Goes” 9.14.96 – 4.11.16 [113]

“Footsteps” 5.12.92 – 4.21.16 [103]

“Chloe Dancer” 4.19.03 – 4.28.16 [16] (Mother Love Bone cover)

“Crown of Thorns” 10-22-00 – 4.28.16 [31] (Mother Love Bone cover)

“Unthought Known” 9.21.09 – 4.28.16 [117] (Note: was previously “Life Wasted” on setlist, crossed out and swapped)

“Takin’ It To The Streets” First played tonight. [0] (Doobie Brothers cover, dedicated to a longtime friend of Eddie’s who joked that he still couldn’t sing quite as well as them)

“Whipping”  5.13.93 – 11.14.15 [163]

“Better Man” 5.13.93 – 4.29.16 [483]

“Save it for Later” 9.26.96 – 7.10.12 [107]

“Porch” 12.22.90 – 4.29.16 [538]

“Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town” 6.16.93 – 4.28.16 [427]

“Lighting Bolt” 7.19.13 – 4.28.16 [74]

“Black” 10.22.90 – 4.29.16 [538]

“Alive” 10.22.90 – 4.29.16 [723]

“Rockin’ In The Free World” 3.9.92 – 4.23.16 [288] (Neil Young cover)

“Indifference” 6.16.93 – 4.28.16 [151]

 

Along with good-hearted quips like “I just want to thank Billy Joel for taking the night off and letting us do this,” Pearl Jam’s unforgettable set was accompanied by an impassioned political rant from Eddie, which took shape in improvised lyrics at the end of “Wishlist.” “I wish I could run for president; I might be better than some of these men,” he sang to a crowd of instant supporters, who let out a massive roar. “Fuck Donald Trump! His penis gets smaller every time he says ‘huge!’ And I like Hillary, but I can feel the Bern too…” he shouted just before the screams overpowered him. “Have I got your attention? ‘Cause shit’s getting real fucked up!”

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Donald Drumpf

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Stoney

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Mike

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Eddie

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Mike

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Mike & Jeff

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E.V.

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Eddie

 

There was one clear answer to that question. The desperation of Eddie’s sudden message fueled the fire they’d all been stoking for the 13 songs before it. But he had a few other missions as the night went on. “Is there a way – ‘cause you have a great seat right there – but you’re right in front of the guy right behind you. Can you go back and maybe be right behind him or something? Would that be alright?” Eddie politely asked one woman before the encore, who happened to be standing in front of a man in a wheelchair. “There’s a poor guy right between ya…I’ll come closer to you! I’ll keep all kinda eye contact, whatever, you won’t miss a thing. I’ll blow you a damn kiss, I’ll do all that stuff,” he said with genuine affection as the whole crowd swooned and cheered.

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E.V.

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Eddie

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Jeff

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Ed

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JA

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Pearl Jam

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Eddie Vedder

 

“26th birthday, right there – Happy Birthday, you young buck! Shit’s about to get real hard for you!” he laughed, shaking his head with a fatherly grin at the guy with the sign. “But it also might be some of the most fun you’ve ever had in your life, so enjoy it while you can. You look like the kind of guy who could call your mom if you were in jail… She wouldn’t be too mad, she wouldn’t tell dad…” he said softly with a wink. “Alright, all you nice people, thanks for coming tonight!”

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Ed Ved

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Mike

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Mike

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Air McCready

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Eddie

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Mike

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Mike

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Mike McCready

 

Then, with the searing guitar solos and splintering drums only Pearl Jam can deliver in such a significant way, they exploded into the remainder of their set. As their unmatched sound expanded to fill the full arena, New York City seemed to feel more and more weightless with each note – and even closer to some kind of truth. As always, it was Eddie’s strong, honest, and loving vocals that lit the narrow pathway there. So we closed our eyes, held onto the feeling, and did what so many souls have done before us. We followed.

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Pearl Jam

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Jeff & Matt

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Eddie

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Contemplative Ed

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Eddie Vedder

 

Article: Olivia Isenhart

Photos: Shayne Hanley

 

9 Comments

  • Reply May 2, 2016

    CatPatat

    Another amazing set of concert photography. Proud of you Shayne for following your dreams.

  • Reply May 2, 2016

    Jessica

    What a great recap!! So good that it makes me even more bummed that I wasn’t there. 🤘🏻

  • Reply May 2, 2016

    Gee

    Amazing pictures from an awesome show!

  • Reply May 2, 2016

    Ed

    Thank you so much for writing the article. I was the one with the bdday sign. Any photos let me know!

  • Reply May 2, 2016

    Sarah

    You got it! That feeling! The feeling you feel in your chest and it radiates to your soul! I have seen so many bands live, so many good bands but Pearl Jam always stands out! I’ve traveled thousands of miles to see them on countless occasions just for that feeling! That for just a few hours nothing else seems to matter ! People are nice to each other, cities are welcoming and I’ve met so many cool people! Pearl Jam is more than just a band that can put on one he’ll of a show. They bring people together. We are family! I love every single second I get to spend with them! I’m glad you got “the feeling”!

    • Reply May 2, 2016

      Sarah

      Hell of a show

  • Reply May 2, 2016

    Diane Wirono

    Quite an accurate review — loved the set list too. How on earth you caught all that was said onstage I will never understand, but thanks for explaining what needed it if you weren’t in the pit. Excellent pictures.

  • Reply May 2, 2016

    Franzi

    This is an awesome article! I teared up bc you totally get that feeling!! Thank you

  • Reply May 3, 2016

    Rosana Rocha

    The pictures are absolutely stunning. Specially the one you took of Mike smiling. I watched both NYC concerts online and it was like I was there in MSG watching it live.

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