“Oh please let it rain today. This city’s so filthy. Like my mind in ways.”
- Wash, Alive (1991)

Thursday was chucking it down in Manchester. Unsurprisingly Ed made a comment on how the wet weather reminds them of Seattle back home. This time I was sat in the opposite side, stage right, pretty much at the same level as Wednesday albeit in the block that allows you to see the band proper. Two empty seats at each side, I can’t really complain! Again, I missed X, the opening band for PJ’s European tour. I am sure they are fantastic but I’m here for the meat of the matter – another raucous Pearl Jam set that should be altogether different from last night’s.

And what a better opener than Go followed by Animal. Once again, the pace set was fast and we were then treated with No Code‘s Hail, Hail (Ed sang “Hail hail the lucky ones, I refer to those in front yeah!”) which was another first for me. In fact, tonight contained a few firsts. I’ve been wanting to see them play I Am Mine and Lukin, which they played. The prelude to Lukin was somewhat funny with Ed commenting that Mike’s middle name was actually “Jemimah” (Mike’s been the brunt of Ed’s jokes not this once) which would go well with Ed’s middle name Jerome, before adding, “One of them is a true story…”

The set had a few No Code songs, which is kinda nice as this album didn’t do much for me the for the first few years it came out. Zango was the one who pointed out to me that the record is somewhat understated and it was later on that it warmed to me. Which was why I became so ecstatic that they actually played Off He Goes in the first encore. I was torn between taping[1] the whole song but opted for partly taping it as I couldn’t resist joining in the sing-along.

Ed praised tonight’s crowd as being more animated than yesterday’s whom he described as being a bunch of “accountants and lawyers”, in reference to the corporate types present in the audience. Ed also recounted how he came about writing the words to Deep which pretty much revolved a junkie who dropped his lighter from a window when Ed was walking in downtown Seattle (hence the lyrics “On the edge, Windowsill, Ponders his maker, Ponders his will, To the street below, He just ain’t nothin’”). With this being played tonight, I only have Oceans to watch them play before claiming to have heard the entire Ten record performed live!

The first encore started with Inside Job, which reminded me so much of my Ten Club experience standing front row at their show in Dublin back in ’06. They played Just Breathe again, with a similar banter about couples in love la-dee-dah before it. Just when we thought things were getting mellow, little did we know another PJ first was going to happen next. Ed read out a list of Manchester’s firsts (first railway station, where the atom was first split etc) before announcing that they were gonna play Hitchhiker for the first time ever[2], a Binaural-era outtake on their 2003 Lost Dogs record. An incendiary RVM ended the first encore, followed by Wasted Reprise and Life Wasted from the avocado album back-to-back. Something from their rare Christmas singles on the setlist would always prove popular and Dead Boys‘ cover Sonic Reducer just drove everyone nuts.

Everything had to finally come to a close and, whilst I’ve described it as not being one of my favourite closing tune, Yellow Ledbetter was aptly played to mark the end of the only indoor arena shows they are playing in the UK this year, with a short Litte Wing interlude of course. They filed offstage with Ed lastly saying “Goodnight. Goodbye.” as he did twelve years ago at my first PJ show.

Forty nine songs in two nights (not including the repeat of Even Flow, Just Breathe, Alive and Better Man). Getting to see the Seattle lads walk offstage within ten feet of my seat. I dare say that this has been my best live Pearl Jam experience ever!

[Setlist photo from pearljamofficial @Instagram]

More photos on my Flickr site here.

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[1] OK, I actually meant recording it on video. :P
[2] My other PJ first-performed song was Education, another Binaural outtake, at the Dublin show in ’06.