Pearl Jam in Europe

Although tempting, there was never a concrete plan for me to see any of the European Pearl Jam shows this summer. But after grinding it through a month and a half in Montreal (and by grinding I mean grinding on smoke meat sandwiches and poutine with some amazing friends), the opportunity for such a tour became viable and a last minute decision once again brought me back for another summer in Europe. Making the most of my trip, as always, I was able to navigate around to squeeze in a couple of Pearl Jam shows around some must do things on the trip along with my travel partner in crime Stefan.

Aug 11 – LONDON, UK (Shepherds Bush Empire)

Pearl Jam at shepherds bush

After a week traveling up the Adriatic Coast, I was able to catch an early morning flight over to London for the very special and intimate show at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. This show was special to me not only because of the small scale of the venue (roughly 2000 capacity), but because it is also me old stomping grounds. I literally lived just around the corner from the venue during my time in London and have attended many of shows at this beautiful venue. Tickets were damn near impossible to get the first time around, but with a little help I was able score me a 10 club ticket.

Overall, the show was good but it did not live up to the hype only because of the efforts that it took to get to and to get into this exclusive event. Perhaps there was too much expectations placed on the chance that this may be something truly special, nonetheless it was like any other Pearl Jam show, and it was enjoyable. The band seemed genuinely tired and jet lagged after having played in Calgary, Canada just 2 days prior, so they used this show for what it was, a warm-up show.

Pearl Jam at shepherds bush

The setlist was great, however, with some of my highlights being Sometimes, Brother, All Along The Watchtower (with Ronnie Wood), and Present Tense. The Fixer was surprisingly great live as well, even though I did not fully embrace it before. And being in Who country, The Real Me was awesome, although I would have preferred that they brought out Pete Townsend instead of brother Simon. But the real highlight of the show, of course, was catching up with old friends that I have not seen in nearly a year. This alone made the one day trip worth the effort and I would do it again and again in a heartbeat. We could have been seeing a cheesy broadway show together and it still wouldn’t have matter, I would have enjoyed it with this lot. You all know who you are. Was great to hit up O’Neil’s once again and share some maple cream cookies. I miss London.

Sometimes * Interstellar Overdrive * Corduroy * The Fixer * All Along The Watchtower * Why Go * Dissident * Severed Hand * Given To Fly * Low Light * Even Flow * Present Tense * Save You * Down * Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town * Brother * Do The Evolution * Got Some
The End * Inside Job * Better Man * Alive
Soldier Of Love * State Of Love And Trust * The Real Me * Yellow Ledbetter

Aug 17 – MANCHESTER, UK (The MEN Arena)

Manchester was an adventure to get to. Stefan and I had been in Italy attending the Il Palio di Siena horse race the night before. But the real race was to get on a bus that would take us back to Florence after the race. The last bus of night runs at 8:15pm, the race didn’t end until 8:40pm. Sprinting through and against the parade of the winning contrade, the owl, we just managed to sneak onto the last bus of the evening, caught our breathe in Florence, then caught a bus to Pisa to fly into Liverpool to bus into Manchester. We called this the Amazing Race to Manchester for Pearl Jam. More on that to come.

Arriving at the venue, it was an instant reunion again, with friends I have met all over Europe, America, and even Australia, as The Gus Man made an appearance. After a few hours of catching up with people and getting our luggage storage sorted out for the day, we hit up the pubs to do it the way the Brits do it. The setting was Sinclairs Oyster Bar, a beautiful beer garden located right in front of the Manchester Wheel, and the drinks were dirt cheap (less than 2 quid a pint) and delicious lager (don’t remember the name but Tully’s Lager comes to mind).  Sticking with our “do it the way the brits do it theme” we ate bangers and mash to fulfill our hungers and with our love for the country of Croatia during this trip, we chilled out with the Croatian Crew who have discovered the art of making rock t-shirts. Down stairs we continued the drinking with some good friends, including an 2007 Oktoberfest reunion or sorts.

Pearl Jam in Manchester

When the show begins, we enter just in time to catch Gomez. They are a great band, I just wished they had played some older stuff that I might have known. Nevertheless, they were a good opener. In between acts, we chatted with some friends in the stands before Pearl Jam took the stage with Long Road, a sign of a good show to come. The set was great and the crowd was energetic, and with a few shows under their belt the band seemed to be completely on tonight. At one point during the show, Vedder shows his love for Gus’ hair once again by saying that if he were to grow his hair out it would definitely look like Gus’. Gus was shown on the big screen and I had a laugh. However, the best part of the show was when Vedder acknowledges Barbara’s sign (“Smile” for my 70th show). Not only did they play Smile for her, he also handed her the harmonica that he blew relentlessly into during the song. And much like the Shepherd Bush show, afterwards, I was completely soaked with sweat that did not belong to me. The Manchester show was a lot fun.

Pearl Jam in Manchester

Long Road * Last Exit * Why Go * All Night * The Fixer * Low Light * In Hiding * World Wide Suicide * Not For You(Modern Girl) * Even Flow * Present Tense * Save You * Grievance * Sleight Of Hand * Got Some * Rearviewmirror
Go * Daughter * Do The Evolution * Alive
Smile * Black * Leash * The Real Me * Indifference

Aug 18 – LONDON, UK (The O2 Arena)

The O2 Arena is the most visited venue in Europe for concerts, so it would only make sense for Pearl Jam to upgrade to here from the old Wembley Arena last time around. Opting out of the organized magic bus ride or even Megabus, a short train ride from Manchester brought Rob, Carlos, Luisa, and I down to London on the day of the show. A few pints got us ready to hit the venue and with it the chaos that is the O2 Arena. This place is not only a concert arena, it is also a multi entertainment center filled with restaurants, bars, and stores. There is even a roller skating rink that I was tempted to go on. The O2 Arena just screams nothing but corporations everywhere. Walking in, there is a huge crowd wandering around, and half of the people are not even going to the concert, yet the merchandise stand for the show greets you as you enter. So anyone could have walked in and bought a shirt or a poster, go roller skating, have dinner and then leave.

It took some time, but eventually the familiar faces began to pop up at different places, so we all converged at the bar closest to the entrance for more pre-show pints. Everyone seemed to be more relaxed and I was impressed that so many decided to just enjoy the pub and not worry about going in early to grab a spot up front. Many simply hung out at random places throughout the arena instead and they were treated to an amazing show.

Opening with Release is always a highlight, but the set that followed was simply awesome. Staying away from the danger zone of the mosh pit this time, we rocked it hard. Immortality is one of my favourite songs and it was played to perfection. Rats was great as was Blood and then Love Reign O’er Me. Not once did I venture away from my spot on the floor, which was in the middle halfway back from the stage, or dead center of the arena. The show was one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve been to and one of the best as well. Afterwards, gathering with everyone proved to be somewhat of a challenge, so we ended up staying at the only bar still open at the arena for some post show celebrations.

Pearl Jam O2 Arena

The next day we ended the tour with a relaxing picnic in the park at Hyde Park, as planned out by the lovely Darcy and put into action by myself. It was the perfect way to hang out and enjoy the company of some good friends. The only thing missing was a box of goon, only because I wasn’t in charge of the shopping. The night concluded with another messy one at the Royal George Pub in Soho for old times sakes, before I had to fly back to Montreal the next morning. Europe was short but sweet and I was able to see everyone, although briefly, that I wanted to see with the exception of Marit and Vivi, booo! But the shows were fun. The quick hellos and catch-ups are great, but I do wish I was able to spend more time with everyone individually, because that is pretty much the only reason I still go to these shows. Nonetheless, the Europe tour was a success and I enjoyed every moment of it. Thanks to everyone that made it a blast and see you all next year if not sooner and I believe it will be sooner! ~:-)

Hyde Park

Release * Animal * Corduroy * Why Go * Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town * Immortality * The Fixer * Even Flow * I Got Id * Rats * Got Some * Whipping * Light Years * Insignificance * Black * Life Wasted * Blood(Atomic Dog)
Supersonic * Hail Hail * Footsteps * Love Reign O’er Me * Do The Evolution * Alive
Better Man(Save it for Later) * Crazy Mary * Leaving Here * Porch * Yellow Ledbetter


Jason is the author of the book This All Encompassing Trip and loves to travel to see Pearl Jam. He spends his time doing design and video work as well as running a daddy blog called The Rockstar Dad.


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