When: May 7, 2010
Where: Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (Noblesville, Ind.)
Opening act: Band of Horses
For much of the day, there was concern that the weather could turn ugly and the show would be canceled. As my friends and I were preparing to leave our hotel for the venue, we watched the weather forecast and saw an ominous band of severe weather heading straight for our location. When we were on the highway and getting hit by a downpour, we figured, best case scenario, we’d be stuck on the lawn, getting absolutely soaked.
Unfortunately, the weather was the least of our problems. That designation was saved, instead, for our actual drive to the venue. It was only about 25 miles from our hotel to the amphitheatre, but it took us roughly 2.5 hours to get there because of gridlock that had us sitting motionless on the highway at multiple times.
By the time we finally got parked, we could hear music in the distance. As it turned out, that was Band of Horses closing out its set. I was less than pleased, as they were the main reason I wanted to come to the show in the first place.
We grabbed our blankets and headed for the gate, chugging a few beers on the walk up. We were alerted that it was a “no blankets” show, due to the large number of attendees. I decided to wrap my blanket around my upper body and hide it under my windbreaker and ended up as one of the few patrons with a blanket to sit on.
It would come in handy as the once warm, windy conditions turned to cold and windy by the end of the show. The precipitation, however, had cleared, and it ended up being a rather pleasant evening.
We arrived in between sets and weren’t waiting around too long before Eddie Vedder and the boys came on stage. They opened with “Release” off their first album, Ten. According to their website, it’s somewhat rare for them to play that song as they’ve only included it in a handful of their sets in recent years.
Clearly, we were in for a good show.
As for my Pearl Jam fandom, I mostly just know the main hits and a few other songs off the various live albums I own. So, throughout the show, I was asking my friend what each song was.
They did play some that I knew during the initial set, including “Elderly Woman …”, “Daughter”, “Even Flow”, “Jeremy” and “The Fixer”. Unfortunately, I was in line for the bathroom during those last two, which closed out the set.
Most of Vedder’s banter was enjoyable, and he really seemed to make an effort to connect with the fans. At one point, he thanked the “Gods of Indiana” for keeping the rain at bay, then he said that the God of Indiana was Larry Bird. Although, he later referenced Salt Lick, when he should’ve said French Lick (Bird’s hometown), but I’ll let it slide.
Other nice touches were the concert tees, which not only had that show’s date and location on the front, but also a pair of checkered flags, an homage to Indy’s racing history. I think it was the first time I’d seen a concert tee made exclusively for the show I was at. They also played a cover of “Goin’ Back To Indiana”, much to the crowd’s delight.
The first encore opened with Vedder sitting on a stool and playing an acoustic guitar. The first highlight of the night for me came during the second-to-last song of that encore when the mass of humanity that was the audience sang along for the bulk of “Better Man”. It gave me goosebumps. Afterwards, Vedder relayed to us what guitarist Mike McCready said during the song: “I fucking love the Midwest!”
My next treat was when they finished with “Do the Evolution” then came back for a second encore — another first for me. They opened with a couple songs that I didn’t know, then went into “Alive”, which got me all revved up. I shedded the blanket that was keeping me warm and just started jumping around to the song.
Before the show, I had told my friend that I wanted to hear “Yellow Ledbetter” and one of two covers they like to play — “Last Kiss” or “Baba O’Riley”.
I ended up getting both wishes granted, as, following “Alive”, McCready started into that familiar riff of “Baba O’Riley”. Early in the song, Vedder ripped off his flannel shirt to unveil The Who shirt he was sporting underneath.
The last official song was “Yellow Ledbetter”, which was an awesome closer. But then, at the end of that, McCready played the “Star-Spangled Banner” a la Jimi Hendrix. That was a pretty awesome treat and one final goodbye.
One other highlight toward the end of the show came when Vedder was talking about growing up in Chicago and hanging out with his friends and how he was disappointed he didn’t get a chance to see any of them before the show. Then one of those friends, someone named Chris, hailed him from somewhere in the front of the crowd. You could see Vedder get a little choked up, and I thought that genuine show of emotion was really cool.
In the end, Pearl Jam played for more than two hours and were probably fined for going past curfew, but they didn’t care.
So, despite a rather annoying trip to the venue and missing an opening band I really wanted to see, there’s no way I can walk away from a Pearl Jam show with anything but fond memories.