Last Tuesday saw my first gig ever for this year. I seem to be going to less gigs these past couple of years, in part by choice, and also in part due to my *KOFFKOFF* increased interest in Japanese rock/pop music. Just look at 2013 – I saw three acts from Japan without even going there.

I don’t really like Pearl Jam’s Lightning Bolt. So much so that I had given up listening to it in the car a few days prior to Tuesday’s show in Leeds. I am not too sure if it’s an age thing with Ed and co. but Backspacer was a decent enough record despite not filled with rockers throughout. Getting the tix last December for this show was pretty interesting. Following the fuckups Ten Club had caused in pre-sales for previous European tours, they’ve sorted things out by doing a lottery which I entered for fun. And as luck would have it, I won a chance to buy two tix. With that in the bag all I had to do was wait until July. The gig was at the new First Direct Arena located at Leeds’ city centre and I had passed by it a couple of times and had not noticed!

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The seats were great which was slap bang in the centre, in the lowest tier and we were at the front. I am sure my seniority in Ten Club had something to do with it. The arena’s design is quite unique – unlike the usual rectangular setup in other conventional UK arenas, the First Direct is a D-shaped hall pretty much like an amphitheatre. Everyone with a seat ticket should have a good view. I’ve to say that only works for seated punters as the view prolly ain’t to good if you had standing tix and stood at the sides.

There was no opening act and I was told by one of the ushers that the show starts at 8 PM. Not really – they got onstage at half 8 which is still pretty early. Oh, I told myself that I was gonna start going to gigs without a camera from now on. Well, I couldn’t help myself:

Ed and the gang kicked off the evening with Pendulum and they seem to be starting off with the slower numbers – Of The Girl brought me back to my first show in 2000. Elderly Woman came on pretty early and with Breakerfall soon after – this was pretty nostalgic from a Binaural perspective! A string of rockers followed thereafter from Hail Hail to the new Mind Your Manners. They played a few surprises – tonight was my first time seeing them play Tremor Christ and they also played Push Me, Pull Me from Yield. This was in fact the first time they played this in the UK and they only played this a total of 13 times.

Ed commented that they had played England a total of 29 times but this was the second time they played Leeds. And for obvious reasons, I was wondering if they were playing some Who songs (and they sure did as I soon found out). Like Ed trying to get Jeff to sing something from the ‘Swedish hits of the 70s’ and then Ed went off to do a bad version of ABBA’s Fernando with some help from the audience. Or Stone taking the mickey out of Ed’s Jerome Turner monicker. Or the bit when a basketball was thrown onstage from the audience and Jeff did a one-on-one with Ed. I thought the best bit was when Ed took a smartphone from someone on front row, taking selfies and decided to keep the phone as “his daughter might like it”. The gag went on throughout the set with more selfies. Luckily for the fan, Ed gave the phone back (obviously) but the guy will be chuffed having exclusive selfies of Ed (with Jeff added to the mix in some). The fun didn’t just end there for the fans. We were treated to seeing Stone singing (Don’t Gimme No Lip) as well as seeing Stone swapping his guitar for Jeff’s bass, and Jeff playing a Gretsch guitar – yup, for Smile later on at the beginning of the second encore. Later on, Ed exclaimed how beautiful the crowd was and was pretty much handing/throwing out tambourines to the front row fans like candy.

For the first encore, Ed touched upon the recent loss of his uncle to cancer and how, in general, cancer affects the victim’s loved ones. It was pretty obvious that they would then play Man Of The Hour which gave me goosebumps. I dunno, ever since listening to this in context to watching Big Fish makes me go a tad emo. A woman in the front row had a large green sign saying that this was her 30th show and if the band would play Fatal. And play it they did. Another rare one played live – this was only the 6th time ever! They ended the encore with Porch, and I thought this will be a quick show if all they did was 5 songs in this segment.

After kicking off the second encore with Smile, they played Leaving Here and man, I was dancing like a convulsing epileptic – potato mashing, swimming, diving etc. Things mellowed down with Black and I thought oh well, that’s it then. But no, Jeff then quickly did the bass intro to Jeremy. Great stuff. And SOLAT thereafter. Holy shiyatt. And A-effin’-live? What is this? Rocker after rocker in this second encore, kinda like the thrashing Brazil was getting at the GER v BRA match which was playing at that same moment! When they played Baba I thought that was gonna be finally it. Wrong again – together with some help from Ray Cameron, Matt’s son, on Mike’s guitar, the band did a cover of Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower!

They finally closed the show with the gentle Indifference. After a bow they filed off stage with Ed waving to everyone being the last to leave, but without his trademark “Goodnight, goodbye”.

Three hours and fifteen minutes – the longest Pearl Jam gig I’ve ever been to.

But still no Brain of J[1].

Select shots on my as per usual – here.

FIRST DIRECT ARENA, Leeds 8.7.2014
SET 1: Pendulum / Of The Girl / Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town / Breakerfall / Hail, Hail / Once / Mind Your Manners / Lightning Bolt / Tremor Christ / Wishlist / Who You Are /
Ghost / Even Flow / Sirens / Push Me, Pull Me / Do The Evolution / Don’t Gimme No Lip / Army Reserve / Present Tense / Given To Fly / Setting Forth / Rearviewmirror
ENCORE 1: Man Of The Hour / All Or None / Fatal / The Real Me / Porch
ENCORE 2: Smile / Leaving Here / Black / Jeremy / State Of Love And Trust / Alive / Baba O’Riley / All Along The Watchtower / Indifference

[1]They played Brain at Milton Keynes three days later. Typical.