With a mere three shows remaining in the first leg of the U.S. tour, Pearl Jam showed no signs of slowing down. A sold out Nassau Coliseum was privy to a "Long Road" opening, a song that is rarely played if not leading the initial set. The crowd's energy was intensified with the unmistakable chords of "Rear View Mirror," appropriately followed by the most adrenaline-laden track on Vs., "Animal."
With the concert in full swing and fans cheering at every lull, Pearl Jam introduced three tracks from Riot Act
into the mix, including "Save You", "Get Right" and "I am Mine." Perhaps the biggest surprise for PJ fans was the addition of "Present Tense" and "In Hiding" to the set list. The non-diehards were pleased to have "Even Flow" and "Jeremy" follow these rarities. Cigarette lighters became tiny swaying beacons for the band's "Elderly Woman."
Mid way through, Eddie broke the tempo with a low-key version of "I am a Patriot" perhaps foreshadowing his introduction of anti-Bush/pro-America opinions. It was standing room only as Pearl Jam broke into "Blood"", "Not for You", and the widely known "Betterman."
The first set was finished by a Ten
masterpiece, "Porch." Following the verse of "Left the Porch" Eddie made his way around the back of the stage to receive applause and screams from the fans seated there, while the band played on. McCready made a stellar showing, playing like a man possessed. Gossard, Ament, and drummer Cameron were equally as impressive.
There was no way Pearl Jam could leave after having finished their set with "Porch." The charged-up crowd roared awaiting the first encore. When the band returned, Vedder was bathed in a blue spotlight for a rendition of "Last Kiss" (J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers cover) The infectious melody had even those that didn't know the words attempting to recite the tale of lost love.
PJ could only follow "Last Kiss" with the emotionally soothing sounds of "Thumbing My Way" from the new album. Not able to leave his fans on a down-note, Vedder brought his drained crowd back to life with "Crazy Mary", a b-side called "Down", and "Do the Evolution."
The most well-known track off Vs. united the crowd in a chorus of "Don't call me daughter, not fit to be…" Fans hung on Vedder's every syllable, drowning out the speakers at times, just before Vedder segued into "WMA". The final song of the set, and one of the most intense, "Alive", robbed fans of whatever voice they had left in a no-holds barred sing-along.
As Vedder and crew left the stage, there were no mass movements to the exits. The crowd waited and cheered to deafening levels in the darkness not yet spoiled by the house lights. Gossard, Ament, McCready, and Cameron returned to the stage for the second encore minus their point man. Within moments, a figure appeared in a shiny silver jacket wearing a latex mask of G.W. Shortly after finishing "BushLeaguer", Eddie addressed the crowd.
There was mixed reaction to Eddie's political views being spouted out to an unwilling, but anticipating audience. Amidst the boo's and cheers, a chant of "U-S-A" could be deciphered. Eddie applauded the dialogue between himself and the crowd, merely reinforcing his views on free speech. Eddie responded, "I'm with ya, U-S-A…I just think all of us in this room should have a voice in how the USA is represented."
After expressing his anti-bush sentiment, but assuring his fans that he was supportive of the freedoms in the U.S., Eddie made his closing arguments in song. He followed up with "Know Your Rights", a cover from The Clash. To rally the crowd once final time, Vedder and bandmates closed with "Keep on Rockin' in the Free World" a Neil Young cover.
The show was incredible, with Vedder and company holding nothing back, despite having played in Albany the night before. After nearly 3 hours and 28 songs, the house lights finally came on to reveal a physically tired crowd, still hungry for more.
Photos courtesy of Pearl Jam, Kerensa and PearlJamSynergy.com.