[some of these pics can be enlarged to your heart’s content. click away!]

it was great to be back in dublin after 16 years. the point was a lil’ over half an hour away from the hotel and by the time we got there at half three, there was already a queue. at about four, one of the pearl jam crew told the ten clubbers to make our way forward through the throng. the shite thing was some of the idiots who weren’t ten club members did the same. memang gampang, ingat security nak kasi lepas ke? thank god, we finally got through and collected our tix. the crap thing was that we couldn’t leave the venue since it would mean forfeiting our advantage of getting to be in the front row. by the time we got to the ten club queue (i think there were about 300 of us), it would be another 2 hours before we got to go in.

our feet were aching but it was great to chat to the fans, all of whom that we met were not even from eire – the guys around us were fans from america, denmark, mexico, spain, australia and aberdeen! we talked about our old pearl jam gig experiences (i unfortunately had just the one – and told them how stupid i was to had foregone the chance to see ’em for a few quid at the newcastle riverside in the early 90’s). this aussie chap saw the band like 15 times and he only started listening to them in ’95.

doors were opened for us half and hour late, but what the hey – off we went. i decided not to go the merchandise stall as i don’t wanna be too far back. we managed to stand behind two german girls behind the front barrier who were shorter than us. which meant that unobstructed view of the band all night! we stood pretty much at around stage left where stone would be (for obvious reasons – lmsn rds would know!). i looked at my watch and the show won’t start for a good two hours yet. it was to be a day of waiting.

paddy casey opened the show at 8-ish. he was good but not really given much of a chance by the crowd. paddy, however, played his 6-song set and didn’t appear to be too upset about it. i think he knew that it would be expected behaviour when the entire arena was filled with rabid pearl jam fans.

at about 9, we got a little restless. it had been a long day – but what’s a few more minutes compared to being on our feet for about 5 hours up to now. the reversed-guitar intro to inside job was playing with the stage lights still on, and one by one, all but one of pearl jam came onstage to thunderous applause. mike was playing his double-necked SG and stone played what seemed to be a spanking new run-of-the-mill american standard sunburst strat (baru beli ka?). ed followed suit a little later, with his black folder and bottle of red, placed them by his mic stand and started to sing “underneath this smile lies everything…“. the stage was lit with gobo spots in the back, and the mood was calm yet poignant. ed’s voice? superb. i suppose that is a given.

the set started with an assault of their current material. ed picked up his dark grey tele and kicked off world wide effing suicide. it was indeed time. by the way, the neon, we don’t mosh. just went toingtoingtoingtoing to the beat. hahaha. listen to WWS and you’ll understand.

severed hand showcased mike’s frenzied wah-wah-ed solo – i have to say this band has gone full circle when i listened to the avocado album. not only they are rocking harder now, mike seems to go really all out now, even on recorded material.

one, two, three, four, five against one, five, five…

stupidmop’s opening song, man. we went absolutely apeshit. i have always seen matt cameron as the bottom of the top three pearl jam drummers, but seeing him beating the crap of every crash and ride, you’d think he was wanting to do an abbruzzese. good on ya!

much to my surprise, we were doing the evolution early on in the set. if only there was more space, i would have done the red indian joget-around-the-fire like the mcfarlane vid. of course, all of us joined in the hallelujah sing-along with stone, ed and jeff.

for given to fly, we finally had a short period of respite. well, only until its second verse. oh, what the hey. it was back to 1993 with the song about my tan gap jacket corduroy. second time in my lifetime since the summer of 2000. gone was great and they did another avocado tune, marker in the sand before stone was handed his taylor. it was daughter. i really hoped they would segue into another tune (they didn’t when i saw them last) and they did. they segued into dead moon‘s i’m OK. better man was another chance for the audience to play sing-along with ed. i, too, tried to look convincing (i know half the words – some fan, eh?) since a video camera carried by one of the crew was pointing in our direction. they did better man and then bloody played why go from their debut. that was one mutha of a song.

ed was nattering about singing stuff they never had or rarely done live. “it’s a B-side… this is the first time we’ve ever played it live.” and they played education, a song recorded originally during the binaural sessions.

as i have mentioned in a previous review, don’t expect too much when you take photos at a gig (unless you have a press pass). during even flow, i was frantically trying to get a pic of jeff (or ed) leaping (as they do during this song) but to no avail. well, i tried. mike’s soloing was again conspicuously mind-shattering whilst matt went into full rock drummer mode – he actually did a drum solo. i honestly never seen (or heard of) one when pearl jam play live. ed danced his little dance staring blankly at us and drifted to the side monitors, only to sit with his back resting on the speaker grille, absorbing the pounding thuds of matt’s drumming. sublime.

the hard rocking (och, ma poor neck) continued with life wasted. and what a bass guitar did jeff play on that tune – a yellow-pink mockingbird montrosity with a fender-like neck. RVM signalled the end of their main set. stone appears to be doing more of solos – whilst mike’s style would be rippin’, stone’s soloing is more subdued and atmospheric. my kind of guitarist.

their second set was way more laid back. i just couldn’t believe that the first hour and twenty minutes were all out rocking. indifference was just so relaxed. jeff was sat by his cabs with his standup bass while ed sang his heart out. or his lungs out, rather, until it filled the room. after the obligatory black, they played crazy mary – something that i really wished they played. when i saw them in manchester last, their set was pretty regular pearl jam fodder. until i saw the rarer material they that would play stateside. everyone had to do the L-O-I-T-E-R-I-N-G bit, hadn’t they? and of course, the hammond B3 goreng by boom gaspar. it was really funny hearing the crowd ‘boo’-ing as a tribute to this guy (it’s his first european tour with the band).

they can only mellow down for so long. stone then played the ever-familiar riff in A for alive. i had my eyes glued on stone and his les paul during the bridge, only to see that i had been playing the correct chords and fingering all this time. giddy as a schoolkid, i was. mike did his stuff as usual in the outro, with ed going mental stage left (he seems to spend most of time here which was great!). they got offstage again. they had to do the second encore, i was sure of it.

a few minutes later, ed got onstage with a fag. someone next to me shouted, “ed! you shouldn’t be fucking smoking!”. as the band erupted into the intro of thin lizzy’s the boys are back in town ed just hung on to his micstand creepily staring at our direction with a sneer, looking as if he was slowly moving his left hand up for a two-fingered salute with his fag. but he didn’t and launched into a great rendition of a tune much loved by the irish rock fraternity. if i thought why go was a trip to their psychotic rocking past, what they played next was just as mental, if not more – leash. ed could still push his vocal cords despite having sung for a gig that has gone on past two hours.

get out of my FUCKIN’ face!!!” – an anthem for the young and those at heart.

well, it wasn’t SOLAT or RITFW. or yellow ledbetter. we were treated with neil young’s fuckin’ up to wrap the evening up. we literally bounced to matt’s injun drumbeats screaming “why do i?” from the top of our lungs. ed was thrashing tambourines like nobody’s business. pity none of the four came flying in my direction! they ended the gig with a bang. i only wish the rumours of a possible UK tour in 2007 would be true (perhaps my dream of taking annual leave to see every single tour date may then come true).

as ed rightly said in an interview on jools holland earlier this year – “it’s too bad that kinda wisdom and intellect don’t always match up with youth… music has kept us feeling young“. wednesday night may have made me feel like i was in 23 again, but to tell you the truth, i had always felt that way regardless.

thank you, ed and co., for making us know that behind us were 8000-odd punters who would’ve died to be where we were standing.

point theatre, dublin 23.08.06 set: inside job / world wide suicide / severed hand / animal / do the evolution / given to fly / corduroy / gone / marker in the sand / daughter/(it’s ok) / better man / why go / education / even flow / life wasted / rearviewmirror / encore 1: indifference / black / crazy mary / alive / encore 2: the boys are back in town / leash / fuckin’ up