|All photos by Jason Gonulsen|
We are here and then we go
My shadow left me long ago
Pearl Jam's latest album, Lightning Bolt, is about breaking free.
But it isn't about completely letting go. Listen to "Sirens," "Getaway," "Lightning Bolt" -- there is a message there: drop negative energy, but keep remnants of a charge that brought you new life. Most importantly: eliminate fear.
Pearl Jam opened their show in St. Louis last night with "Pendulum," another song from Lightning Bolt. Its start was delayed around thirty minutes because of a baseball playoff game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers, one that, coincidentally, began its longest inning -- a comeback by the Cards -- right when Pearl Jam was supposed to take the stage. The game was being shown on two video screens inside the venue, and when Matt Carpenter hit that double, well, all eyes were on what was going on in L.A., not on the stage being prepped at the Scottrade Center.
So we waited, even if that meant a shift in focus from, "I'm at a Pearl Jam show!" to "Clayton Kershaw is getting lit up!" But whatever, back to "Pendulum," a song about refusing to care about a shadow that's parted ways. It's an immediate dose of reality: you're on your own now, fella. "Easy come, easy go," Eddie Vedder sang. "Easy left me a long time ago."
There are so many Pearl Jam songs that are about reclaiming what's yours. One of the evening's highlights, Vitalogy's "Not For You," felt like a revelation -- that it's okay to scream, "This is not for you!" at the top of your lungs. Because if we can't do that every now and then, what good is life?
Stay with me here. I'm not condoning shitting on everyone else. But Pearl Jam has been sending a consistent message for the past twenty plus years: At some point, you're gonna have to make that bed yourself.
Last night in St. Louis, we were led through the maze once again. "Rearviewmirror," which closed the first set, ended in a blaze, as did "Porch," which had Vedder in the crowd for a brief moment. In between these moments was a performance of Backspacer's "Just Breathe," with the crowd singing, "Did I say that I need you? Did I say that I want you?" Perhaps there's a touch of regret in that song; or maybe it's just part of being human: the need to know.
The show ended with a terrific cover of The Who's "Baba O'Riley," but it didn't trump Vedder's earlier acoustic version of John Lennon's "Imagine." He changed the lyrics from "Imagine no possession / I wonder if you can" to "I wonder if I can."
As if to say: stop blaming someone else.
Look in the mirror, work on that person.
02. Low Light
03. Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
05. Do The Evolution
06. Mind Your Manners
07. My Father’s Son
09. Lightning Bolt
12. Swallowed Whole
13. Why Go
14. Not For You/Modern Girl-(Sleater Kinney)
19. Imagine-(Lennon) (just Ed and Boom playing)
20. Just Breathe
21. Thin Air
23. Last Kiss-(Cochran) (played to audience behind the stage)
26. Chloe Dancer/Crown Of Thorns-(Mother Love Bone, A. Wood)
Encore Break 2
28. Given To Fly
29. Setting Forth
30. Betterman/Save It For Later-(Charley, Cox, Morton, Steele, Wakeling)
32. Baba O’Riley-(Townshend)