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[Ed & Mike in Birmingham]
"Sweet Home Alabama"
Birmingham-Jefferson Coliseum, Birmingham, AL
3 September 1998
review by Noah Laughton | photos by Sonya Foley
"Comfort in this world" is what I was thinking as I walked to the BJCC and saw all of the buses parked out front. It was at this time it finally hit me that I was actually going to see Pearl Jam in my own town. As my wife Deann and I made our way through the fields of the "waif-like girls and beyond baggy pants guys" I was suddenly reminded that flannel wasn't so bad. The first thing I noticed as we walked into the arena was that security was very loose (it figures since my recorder broke) and that the only thing they were worried about was people smoking inside of the venue. After we purchased our adult beverages and made our way to our seats I caught a glimpse of what I would later dub "Skynardman" (Philly, damn I hope so). He was garbed in a PJ tie dye and had the big old perforated cowboy hat on with feather roach clips hanging from the back of the hat!!! (Sweet Home Alabama!!!) I knew right away there was at least one person that was going to have a good time regardless.

As we entered our seats I looked down upon the stage and the first thing that stood out was Jeff's stand up bass and Mike's old sunburst Strat leaning against their respective racks (double yikes!!!). It was at that point I knew that I was going to see my band.

Mudhoney's set opened up with pure intensity and I think made a really good impression on the people there that have never heard their music. Out of corner of eye I spied Mike down near one of the sound boards watching their set (who says nose bleed does not have its advantages?).


After about 45 minutes of waiting, The Color Red started to blare out of the house speakers and I knew it was time.

Release started the show out and I could tell right off the bat that this was going to be a very tight show. Stone was all smiles and Mike was playing just like he was breathing (no pun intended).

Hail Hail was very clean and sounded better than the recorded version plus a little Ed dance was added.

Animal opened up like a hurricane and never stopped also Ed did a "five against one" countdown!!!

Given to Fly - I thought this was a little too early but damn with Mike behaving the way he did, nevermind!!!!! This was also the first of many songs the house spotlight went on Mike during his solos. Stone kind of sat this one out and then jumped in when the first riff started.

Corduroy - Ed finally strapped on his Rickenbacher and strummed the few opening notes to Dueling Banjos. Ahh, that Ed humor. This song also marked the first signs of Mikes guitar problems (once again the nosebleed advantage of seeing the back of the stage).

Daughter was a treat as always. One thing I hope they never stop doing is the tag at the end of this song. I remember the first time I saw them in '92 and they were doing a somewhat informal tag to just about every song they did. With Daughter, it has become a staple and the younger crowd loved it (what a great band!!!).

[PJ: Birmingham]

Leatherman! Never in a million years did I think they would play this!! It wasn't enough that I was having cows about them playing in Bham but they did one of my favorite songs!!!! The crowd did not let up a bit.

Baba O'Riley - As Deann and I were just about at the end of our strength (yes, even 27-year-olds can still dance, baby!!) Ed called for the house lights and Mike went into the first couple of bars to Baba. My chin fell and my tongue hit my empty beer on the floor!!!! I could not believe what I was hearing!!!! Well they did it and they wore these big thick black sunglasses the whole time and I have never seen them smile as much as they did during Baba baby!!!

Wiping the excitement off my face, Deann and I made our way to the car. On our way I saw my old friend Skynardman. He had a bigger smile on his face than any of the waif-baggy crowd had and I knew that when Ed said, "We will be back and we'll see you soon," Skynardman would be right up front with a recorder and waiting to hear Sweet Home Alabama.