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detroit rock city
Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI
23 August 1998
By Mike Mabie
Detroit rock city! Arriving at the border, we found ourselves confronted by U.S. border guards and I'm thinking, "Ok what should I say? Fuck it I'll just be honest and tell them I'm going to see PJ, they probably know about it anyway. Then again with my long hair...I really don't feel like getting an anal search, not today anyway." With nothing to hide, I went with honesty and had no problems whatsoever. The guy even told me to have a great time.

We arrived at the Palace early because we had no tickets, and found ourselves in line to get into the parking lot which had yet to be opened. We got in and right away I realized I was in trouble. Ticket scalping was a totally different game in the U.S. In Canada they are all over the place trying to unload tickets for less then face value, here there was no one. Just before the gates opened I was able to purchase the worst seats in the house for a small fortune. I must admit that while sitting in the last row in the upper level behind the stage, thinking about how much I had just spent, I was pretty depressed. This however was about to change.

Cheap Trick, after the two Canadian dates, finally got the cheers and respect they deserve. The crowd was totally into their set and I found myself, thinking back to the reception the received the previous two shows, a little ashamed to be Canadian. The set was highlighted by an appearance by Mr. Vedder on vocals during Surrender. This cheered me up and so did the fact that security was not too tight. We were able to sneak down to the seats at the side of the stage. I stood at the guardrail directly behind Mike's tech Jeff Ousley. During the change over Jeff appeared to be finished and killing time so I called out to him. He turned and posed for a picture then said "Oh wait!" He reached under his table and pulled out Mr. Pickles and posed for another shot with Mr. Pickles arm and arm. I was floating.

The Color Red came on and once again we were off. Long Road began the set and the entire band quickly found themselves in full focus. Mike's head tilted back and Jeff in deep concentration, I knew right away it was going to be another great night. They ripped into Last Exit. Matt pounded away and Mike was blessing himself with his pick as Rick from Cheap Trick does, it was pretty funny. Brain of J once again did not disappoint and led to Do The Evolution, which has become without a doubt one of my favorite live songs. At the end Ed crouched down and dragged his hands on the ground moving around like an ape. The energy on stage became very noticeable.

Tremor Christ, one of my favorites, was a treat. I had forgotten all about it, but once they started playing it I became immersed in the song. Corduroy followed and it was at this point that I realized how cool the crowd was. People in the front were standing against the rail comfortably, not being crushed. Security was leaning back and taking it easy while the crowed behaved with class, except of course for two ignorant Canadians (Joanne and I) who had come down from the upper level. At the conclusion of Corduroy Ed noted that, "It was a pleasure to be blown off the stage by Cheap Trick tonight."

MFC followed with the lyrics changed to, "There's a lot to be said for Detroit." Immortality, and once again Mr. McCready. That song brings out the best in his playing every time. Wishlist received a huge cheer once again and led to Alive. What can be said that hasn't been said? They nailed it again, as they always do. Given To Fly was played and was accompanied by a video of clouds sailing by. Once again PJ found the perfect image to enhance to experience without crushing the music.

Go! Yet another first for me and a big surprise. The performance was so intense and I though, "Ok the crowds going to get rowdy now." To my surprise however, the crowed remained behaved and everyone continued to have a great time. Even more to my surprise, Mike played the Go solo behind his head, not missing on fucking note! Once again I was asking the people around me if they had seen my ass on the floor somewhere. Jeremy was played next and concluded with Ed saying, a la Rick Nielsen, "That's Jeff Ament on 12-string bass!"

Even Flow rocked again, the band absolutely on fire, Stone moving more then I have ever seen him. Daughter followed and included I Want You To Want Me as the Tag. Afterwards, Eddie asked if we were workaholics and talked about burning the candle at both ends. It was during this speech Joanne decided to give her big ass "Stoney, Please Play Mankind" sign a try. The house lights were up and Stone saw it and smiled. He pointed it out to Jeff and Matt then shook his head laughing. Joanne turned a deep red from blushing so badly. Later see would claim she was red from a sunburn, yeah right.

The speech led into All Those Yesterdays. I was never a really big fan of this song. However, after seeing it in Detroit and seeing it on The Single Video Theory, I think it is now one of my favorite songs off the album. The song shines live and has an amazing energy and a whole new dimension. Rearviewmirror followed and it was during the interlude that the infamous hair-cutting episode occurred. I guy, who we now know works for the band, got on stage and was grabbed by Eric Johnson, who started to lead him off stage. Ed told him to bring the guy back and told the guy to get on his knees. Ed began speaking in a sarcastic tone, "I'm fuckin' sick of you people who think you can just jump on stage. You think you can just jump up here, with that awful fucking hair cut." The guys hair was long at the back and short on top. "Do You want it long or do you want short? Make up your fucking mind. You're probably from fucking Canada!" Ed asked him his name and where he was from and repeated it. "Steve from Toronto, see I fuckin' told you!" Ed then grabbed a pair of scissors and cut off the guy hair while Jeff patted the guy on the shoulder. Ed held up the hair, shook it and returned to the guy who ran off the back of the stage. We would later find out it was set-up!

Never the less it was the highlight of the night and everyone got a huge laugh from it. PJ returned for what began as an odd encore. Animal and Hail, Hail where played first, two song that usually appear at the beginning of the set, nevertheless the band powered through them. Ed grabbed his guitar and walked up to the mic, "Do you have time for a story?" Off He Goes!!! The song, one of my favorites was beautifully done but was slightly ruined, as the guy next to me fought with his girlfriend and spit beer on me. She sat next to me and told me the whole story of their awful relationship. The moment came full circle however, when PJ launched into the next song, Betterman! I was swimming in irony.

Betterman included an amazing Crazy Mary teaser at the end. Ed took time to say how fun it was to play tonight but, to be perfectly honest it's just as much fun when the five of them play music together and no ones around. Footsteps followed. I had only ever heard the version from the Jeremy single and had always loved the song, this version however, blew me away. To hear it with drums and bass and a solo by Mike. Wow! "Have you seen my ass, it was knocked off somewhere in this area."

The second encore began with Jeff moving to Stone's side and grabbing a guitar. Smile was coming and Ed flipped through his book frantically. "Found it! Found the lyrics!" Then he introduced everyone in the band, "...and Stone...who is playing...nothing this song?" Stone was still waiting for his bass. Smile was highlighted by Eddie tossing his harmonica to a guy who got the instrument plus a ton of Eddie Vedder saliva. After Smile Matt started pounding on his kit. Fuckin' Up!!!!!!!! What a way to end the night and my mini tour. Mike absolutely lost it at the end. Using Jeff's mic stand as a slide. Raking it up and down the guitar neck wailing away while Ed shook hands with those in front. Mike threw the guitar to the ground, straddling it and ripping off the strings one by one. The crowed roared as the band left the stage, Mike passing the beaten guitar to Jeff Ousley.

And they were gone...

Back home, back to work, and back to listening to taped shows. That should hold me over till next time.