Pearl Jam announced this summer’s European tour back in December of last year, and I used my 10C membership for the lottery. Not sure if seniority played a part but I won the opportunity to buy the tix a few days later. I could’ve attempt the two London dates but I’d be away in KL for Raya for them dates. Also, the Berlin date gave me a chance to buy another Lonely Planet book for me to play tourist. Fast forward eight months later, I was on a Ryanair flight to Schönefeld.

The Waldbühne is an amphitheatre next to the Berlin Olympiastadion located in the woods in the west end of the city. Both venues were built in the 30s for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The general info provided to the gig-goers was that security will be tight and guests were discouraged to bring bagpacks. I brought the flimsiest gig satchel to carry my 500 ml water bottle but this was still judged to be too big, and I had to keep it in the left “luggage” tent for 3 Euros just at the exit towards the S-bahn station. Got to the box office and collected my ticket and wrist band and actually went straight for the 10C queue. For some reason I wasn’t too fussed with merch[1] and feeling all… er, zen about this. I was a bit apprehensive as to what the sound quality will be like but whilst lining up under the sun (with the occasional mild breeze) we could hear Jeff’s bass being sound checked and it sounded so good. And this was like a good few hundred yards from the stage.

We were finally coralled into the venue at half 5 (supposed to be an hour before). After getting myself the most expensive pint (should’ve bought two) of iced Coke, I opted for a good seat in the shade on stage right (Mike’s side). The view was great from my spot. The ticket stated that the band would start at 7 PM, but they weren’t even onstage even at 8. It wasn’t til much later I wondered if the band decided to start late because sunset was like 10 PM or something.

At half 8, Philip Glass’ Metamorphosis Two finally came on the PA and the crowd erupted. The band filed onto the stage and the opening riffs to Wash were played. I was like, whoa… was this gonna be an evening of rarities? Interestingly, it was a very hot day and I tend to associate this song with rain. Suffice to say this song brought me back to 1992[2], in my med school days. And for some odd reason, ‘wash’ was my IRC handle. Don’t ask.

The low key Sometimes was next. Our 2002’s MASSOC dinner & dance band performance came to mind. A nostalgia-invoking set is typical for me at a PJ show. And the familiar riff to Corduroy meant it was time to go apeshit. There are some ‘compulsory’ PJ songs that I don’t mind them not playing, but I can listen to this one at every show. The madness went on with Why Go and then Save You from Riot Act. Given To Fly gave us some needed respite soon after.

Ed then invited Danny Clinch (yup, that Danny Clinch) onstage to play the harmonica on… nope, not Smile but Red Mosquito! Another one ticked in my unheard song list. And guess what… another No Code song came on next in the form of In My Tree. Ticked!

The crowd favourite Even Flow was, well… still a crowd favourite with the obligatory Mike solo. Interestingly, Ed dedicated the song to J. Mascis, the reason for which will become clearer later. Another period of respite then came on again with Yield‘s Wishlist, with lyrics intact. And when will the No Code assault stop? Prolly not, as we had Habit next. Right in the middle, Ed uttered this in the place of the original spoken word:

Speaking as a man who despises racism in any form…

I remembered some fans tweeting that PJ shouldn’t mix politics and music. I wonder if their first PJ CD was Last Kiss. Suffice to say words like orange and man did come up somewhere in the set. The band played a bit of The Rolling Stones’ Angie for a bit before doing Daughter which segued into Dead Moon‘s It’s OK. The crowd were served more rockers in the form of Deep, Mind Your Manners and Unthought Known. Ed then said the next one was to be a quieter, gentler tune. Only to proceed with the riff to Lukin. Ending the main set with Porch saw the whole amphitheater erupt into projectile central where aerodynamic cup holders were spun out in the air.

The second set was a gentler segment to begin with. I’ve not seen them play Thin Air from Binaural ever and the poignant Thumbing My Way. I thought the nostalgia train had left, but they then bloomin’ played Breath from the film Singles[3]. Like holy crap. Ed actually started by dedicating the song to an obscure Seattle band that was big in Belgium, “…so if you’re out there, this one is for you… Cliff Poncier.”

It was then time to do my very subtle native dancing around the fire bit for Evolution next, another PJ song which I can listen to every show. During Black, it was nice seeing the cameras capturing interesting segments of the crowd where you get to see parents bringing their young ‘uns to enjoy the band, some of which in the general standing area. RVM signalled the end of the second set, and it was time for the encore.

Ed was going on about how his kids got to see history and culture during the European tour, as well as thanking Roger Waters’ role in letting the world know more of the significance of the Berlin wall when it fell down. The band then proceeded to play Floyd’s Comfortably Numb much to my pleasant surprise. Mike did a great job with the solo on this one I thought. After Alive, Ed brought out J. Mascis[4] to join the band on RITFW, explaining the earlier dedication made. Mascis had his Fender Jazzmaster and did all the solos on this one.

I thought this was a superb set – as usual a mix of deep cuts which allowed me to tick more boxes (still no Brain of J!) as well as a good selection of crowd favs (thank god they didn’t play Ledbetter… a bit bored with that one). And for the first time, a PJ show sans camera. I think I already have a decent set of photos (from five shows) and videos (from four) to allow me to go “been there, done that”.

Now… I wonder if they have extra tix for the postponed show on the 17th in London. Eh?

Waldbühne, Berlin 5.7.18 set:

Photos from, except for the view-from-my-seat photo ^^.

[1]I already have a LOT of PJ merch from silkscreen posters, stickers to T-shirts… I don’t even have any wall space left for a framed poster.
[2]Wash is included in the European limited edition of Ten which is one of the two copies I own the other being the Japanese import.
[3]Cornell’s Seasons was played on the PA when I was waiting for PJ to get onstage. How about that.
[4]Interesting to note that Mascis’ missus is from Berlin. Perhaps he was in town at that time balik kampung to visit the in-laws. Kot.