Wednesday, June 24, 2009

lucky stars in your eyes

i got up early on friday morning for my 3 + hour drive to memphis. the entire way there, i was practically bouncing out of my seat with the combination of nervousness and excitement that i always get when i am going to see a concert i've been looking forward to for ages. i admit to playing a little bit of "what will be on the setlist?" just because there is so much musical history in memphis. here were some of my secret fantasies: sittin on the dock of the bay (how amazing would THAT have been??), i can't help falling in love with you, suspicious minds, any song by johnny cash. and at every solo show i've seen, i confess that i've harbored a secret wish that ed and liam would do stuff and nonsense. (and i overheard a woman saying the same thing to her friend in line for the show. so i'm not the only one). oh well, one of those isn't bad, is it?

i got into memphis friday afternoon, checked into my hotel, and then walked downtown. after a great dinner and a while spent walking around beale street and listening to random bands play, i went to check out the orpheum theatre. i probably spent at least 20 minutes staring at it, waiting for the "eddie vedder, june 20th" sign to light up at just the right moment so i could take a picture. i love this stuff. once again, look how small it is! if someone had told me five or ten years ago that one day i would be seeing eddie vedder at venues this small - three times, no less! - i would have thought they were lying. incredible. i hope this feeling of wonder never ends.

so, on to the show. ed came out with his usual direction to "make yourselves at home, i plan to," and then started walking the cow. next up, sometimes, with the same treatment as in nashville. but, god, this time i am close enough that i can actually see ed as he's playing and watch him get so into the music that he's stomping his foot and leaning forward on his stool. i know that i said it in my nashville review, but it bears repeating - i am so in love with what he does with this song. no code is, depending on the day, my favorite pearl jam album, and hearing a song that i've listened to hundreds of times brought to a new life is just breathtaking. breathtaking! sometimes there are no other words. this is the first song i ever heard pearl jam perform live (september, 1996 in augusta maine) and it's kind of like coming back around to where i began, albeit in a better way than i ever imagined.

my notes were scribbled after getting back to my hotel room so they don't follow the setlist, but the next song i have written down is last kiss. when i first recognized this, my thought was, "uh oh. why is he wasting good setlist space?" but this only proves that first impressions can be misleading. because, once again, the audience interaction is what made this song tonight. i think that it must be amazing as a singer to have people singing along with you - to know that you have inspired and touched people enough to want to imitate your voice, your inflections, every little "oh" you put in your songs. and as an audience member to be a part of this communal experience literally makes my heart want to burst.

next came a run of songs from into the wild, complete with what was, to me, an awesome version of guaranteed. before the song, eddie told a story (that i've heard before - i love that, at this point, i've been to enough shows that i can anticipate what's coming but that at the same time, it's always a bit suprising. does that make sense?) about his daughter and the line don't come closer or i'll have to go. when she first heard the song she asked her father what that lyric meant and, not quite knowing what to say (and i can completely relate to the feeling of not always knowing how to respond to an astute five-year old's questions), he told her that it was referring to a bear. but.. oh crap.. he told the story so much better than i did. oh well. something else that cracked me up, that i forgot to mention in my nashville review - when people were screaming out requests and "i love you eddie," ed said, "if someone next to you is acting like an idiot, you have my permission to hit them." and then later on in the evening he was telling a story about being a security guard and people started laughing and he said something like, "what? why is that funny? don't you see how i handled those people earlier in the show?" damn.. it doesn't seem funny when i write it. but trust me, at the time it was hilarious.

and then... i think that ed said he was going to try a song that he's only played live once before. a couple of different options ran through my head, until i recognized i can't help falling in love with you. i was in las vegas in 2000 when the full band played this song, and i have to say that i thought tonight's version was better. ed's voice sounds amazing. so full and rich and expressive. this is one time when i wish there was a recording available, because i'd love to hear this again and figure out if it is just my memory that is playing tricks on me, or if these shows really were as incredible as i remember. either way, i suppose it doesn't really matter.

during the encore, liam finn came out and played the drums on santa cruz - a song from the last PJ fanclub single - and i need to find a version of this song ASAP because i realize now what i've been missing out on by not having a record player. liam's singing partner EJ (who has a brilliant voice in her own right) sang john doe's the golden state with ed. i highly recommend that you check out her myspace page.

as luck would have it, i am going to see ed's show in honolulu again next week. i have been planning to visit a friend who is living in hawaii for the summer and the first week of july was the only week when there was available vacation time at work. i knew that ed would be playing there then, but, since i didn't get tickets before they sold out, i thought i would be okay with not seeing him. i don't know how i got that crazy idea... because every day for the past week (starting the second i got home from memphis), i have been checking the hawaii theatre's box office for tickets and all of a sudden on thursday night, i was able to find two orchestra seats. it's like a drug.

Monday, June 22, 2009

i just want to scream hello

best. vacation. ever was the text message i sent my mom on sunday morning. i had such a great time seeing eddie vedder in memphis and nashville that i don't think words can come close to describing it. but i'll try.

sometime during last thursday night's show in nashville, ed said something about how making into the wild and knowing sean penn has opened up a whole new world of experiences to him. before he knew it, he said, he was paddling down the colorado river and singing alongside amazing musicians. and i thought, well, wow, that's kind of how i feel about pearl jam. because of them, i have had so many great life experiences - and i have a scrapbook full of ticket stubs, pictures, and notes scrawled on hotel stationary after shows to remind me of them - that i never would have had otherwise. why else would i have flown across the country by myself for the first time in 2000? or why would i be sitting on beale street in memphis on a friday night, drinking a beer and watching a band play sittin' on the dock of the bay? this is the stuff that life is about. ed thanked sean penn, and i in turn will thank ed.

my seat for this show was in the balcony, literally the second to last row. as liam finn played, i started to get nervous because people around me were talking loudly, getting up and doing other generally annoying things. but once eddie took the stage, i forgot about everyone else. seriously. i read a reviewer describe one of these shows as feeling like you are sitting in ed's living room. i don't think that anyone who hasn't experienced one of these shows will believe me, but it was that and ten times more. rarely have i felt that purely happy, that completely in the moment as i did on thursday night.

the opening song was far behind, probably my favorite song on into the wild. i'm almost embarrassed to comment on ed's guitar playing, because i have pretty much no technical knowledge of music - but i will anyway. it has gotten so much better, and he seems more comfortable on stage than he has in the past - certainly the last time i saw him in vancouver. and his voice! my god, his voice. the sound in the ryman was incredible, crystal clear even up in the no man's land of the last row, and he absolutely owned that place.

next up, sometimes. (i won't go through song-by-song, i promise; these are just the highlights i scribbled down after the show). another one of my favorites, and the way he is doing it on this tour brings the song to a whole other level. this is one of those songs that just builds and builds in intensity, and it seems unreal to me that the noise on the stage is coming from only one man. when he finished the song, he led the crowd in a singalong of the ending - have i mentioned how many goosebumps i get when he does that? - and i'm pretty sure that after sometimes i reach to myself/dear god he said are you there god? cue the goosebumps again.

speaking of songs getting reworked (for the better, in my opinion) for these solo shows, wishlist is a prime example. a few weeks ago when i went for a haircut, my hairdresser and i were chatting about eddie vedder (she knew i was going to these shows) and she asked me if he ever played wishlist, because "that's my favorite song." i had to think for a second, and then i said that no, i didn't think he would play that. well, i guess i was wrong. it's almost completely different here though, with a lot more of the foot stomping from ed and clapping from the audience. plus, did i mention his voice yet? my god, it's gorgeous. whatever magic was in the air around me that night, i want to bottle it and have it with me forever.

fast forward in the show: the next thing i wrote down was porch. main set closer. best version of that song i have ever heard. maybe i was exaggerating or maybe i wasn't. again, i wish i could relive the night, just to experience the electricity i felt in the room. as a pearl jam fan - as a music fan - there are not many things better than experiencing a crowd who is feeling the same thing you are. by the time eddie was screaming the end of the song (you know, the part that goes hold you, feel you, ever again), everyone in my section of the balcony was standing up. how could you not? i think that there are few better cathartic experiences in life than singing along with the last minute or so of that song. my god.

and then, the last song of the encore. i have never been in the right place to hear arc live, and even from reading people's descriptions of it, i had no idea how powerful hearing it live would be. seeing ed hunched over in the darkness, and hearing him layer his voice on top of itself made me cry.

onward to memphis!

*during the day on thursday, i paid 12.50 to go inside the ryman on a "self-guided tour," because i figured that would be my only opportunity to take pictures inside. the theatre was incredible! like i said, it was unbelievably small and had incredible acoustics. if you go on the tour, you're allowed to walk around the seats, sit down, and go all the way up front. it's now one of my life goals to go back there. see? when else, if not for pearl jam and ed, would i have gone to nashville and seen a show at one of the most beautiful places i've ever been to? i love it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

you've been running so fast

one of my favorite videos on youtube. i heart glen hansard.

this makes me SO HAPPY: from the swell season myspace page.

Hi everyone, So, the first bit of the long awaited tour dates is here. Please find the details below for the upcoming Irish concerts of the Swell Season. These gigs will be seated theatre shows with the full band of Glen, Mar, Rob, Graham, Colm and Joe. The new album will see a late September worldwide release (no date confirmed yet) and the band will return to tour the U.S. around September/October and Europe around November/December this year. As soon as we have the dates and venues we'll post it.

it's not the frames, but it's close enough. i'm already excited to see glen hansard again. new albums/possible tours from pearl jam, minus the bear, AND the swell season this fall?

Monday, June 1, 2009

this post is about nothing

this post brought to you by: megan has entirely too much time on her hands while she waits for her laundry to dry.

for all that i love to complain about work (doesn't everyone??), i do really enjoy it most of the time. in the middle of a particularly hectic afternoon (kids screaming at each other, fighting over blocks, running inside, etc...), a father who likes pearl jam and knows that i do too says, "so, megan, did you catch the secret show they played at the showbox last weekend?" immediately (and showing what an obsessed nerd i am) i started to panic and thought, oh my god, PJ finally played in seattle again and i missed it. but then i realized that he must have meant the video they were shooting at the showbox. (unless i happened to overlook some news). but i was a teensy bit jealous there for a minute.

my nashville ticket came in the mail today!! *happy dance* i told a co-worker today that i would be on vacation june 17-19, and she asked where. i told her, and she knows me all too well, and said, "are you going to a concert? is it pearl jam or the frames?" hehe. i LOVE that people ask me that (and i kind of wish that it was the frames, but oh well... ed vedder will have to do ;D

this weekend (as i do many weekends during the summer), i went downtown and had lunch at pike place market where, unbeknown st to me, they were having their annual street fair. they had a "busker's stage," showcasing some of the market's street performers. first up, were these guys who usually stand outside starbucks and sing songs like my girl and down on the boardwalk. they're really good.

next, were a group that i see a lot at festivals and at the market, and stop to listen to every time. they're called the tallboys, and the singer said that they have a twice-monthly square dance at the tractor tavern. that sounds fun! anyway, they are a string band and, as the fiddle player said, play "all the rock-n-roll hits from the 1800's." ha! and the guitarist dances a jig while she plays - which cannot be easy. i heart them.