return to main page

[Pearl Jam at Knoxville]
Mike McCready OWNS Knoxville
Thompson-Boiling Arena, Knoxville, TN | 6 September 1998
review by Chris Martinez
photos by Shannon Compton
After seven years of miscommunications, bad luck, bad timing, and the usual tragedies, I finally got to see Pearl Jam live for the first time in Denver (front row seats!); Long Road was the perfect opening. For the Knoxville concert, I drove around 1000 miles round trip, and Long Road was again the perfect opening. First, Mudhoney rocked. The crowd eventually warmed up to them, and they played great.

[Ed at Knoxville]Long Road just rolled over the crowd, both soothing and mesmerizing; I love this song beyond belief and was very pleased to hear it — it just resonates with me. Corduroy was next, and I was already losing it (this being my favorite PJ song, along with Rats). Ed was punishing on vocals, Matt pounding away, and Mike was like a hummingbird on speed — beyond manic.

Brain of J absolutely killed, with Ed really focusing on the "... the name I'm letting go" part, then a great jam. The best was at the end, though, when Mike FELL OFF THE STAGE he was grooving so hard (at least he nearly did, I didn't have a great angle). That just proves how much Mike was getting into it! Given to Fly was solid, rallying the crowd, everyone knew the words. At this point I was thinking, "This seems really similar to the Denver show. I hope they mix it up." Oh yes — "1, 2, 3, 4, 5 against 1" YEA!!! How anyone could stand still (not many were) was beyond me. I was in the balcony row 1 and dancing and jumping all over the place — not as much as Mike McCready though.

Red Mosquito was one of the highlights and one of the songs I really hoped they would play. "If I had known then, what I know now" is a line I can't get out of my head. The jam in the middle was just plain awesome. Then, the spotlight on Jeff — Jeremy. What I love is the subtle things — like how Ed sang the line "How could I forget" just a little different, but with a lot more meaning. Whipping was a complete shock, but the boys belted it out like it was a show staple. Completely energetic, Mike pacing around the stage, and by this point I knew this was Mike's show (not to say they others were slacking). I'm just hoping, HOPING that Even Flow comes soon, because Mike's going to have a great solo.

Time to slow the crowd down before someone gets hurt — Wishlist. Standard version, played well. The "I wish I was a radio song ..." part was sung really slowly, unlike some other versions. Straight into Lukin — I was laughing at the end because most of the people around us didn't know what the fuck it was — LUKIN, BABY!! Yes! Even Flow!! Gets the crowd rockin'. Ed fucks up the lyrics, but no one seems to mind. Stone's doing his thing, Jeff (sans hat) is groovin', but it's Mike's night, and he gives a great solo; pretty slow and kind of bluesy at the end (maybe that was just me), but a crowd pleaser. Habit was really intense, and then MFC. I absolutely love this song ... I just wish it were longer! They do a great version of it; pretty hard and fast, not pulling any punches tonight.

Present Tense was maybe THE highlight of the night. Ed had been feeding off Mike's energy the whole night, so when Ed announced the song, I knew we were in for a treat. This version cut to the soul, made you feel like you making a true connection with the band. Jeff, Stone and Matt jumped in and only added to the incredible magic of the song. Daughter and Better Man were pretty standard. The Daughter tag (Monkey gone to Heaven) was the same in Denver, but now it was a lot more intense and actually pretty scary. Alive is always great — don't ever underestimate this song — bringing the whole arena together, everyone shouting and jumping and flailing. Incredible.

[Mike & Jeff at Knoxville]The encore smoked — the only word to describe it. Go was exactly what I thought it would sound like live. Mike kickin' it up a notch (if that's possible), Ed screaming, the others pushing the envelope. RVM only added to the intensity. By this point I was just losing my mind, loving it. Do the Evolution pushed me over the edge. Ed dancing, taunting the crowd, Stone really getting into it now, Mike hasn't lost any energy, Jeff and Matt are solid as a rock.

I feel so lucky to say I have heard both Patriot (in Denver) and Hard to Imagine live. Such a beautiful song. I had to stand in awe. The lighter came out for Black — lovely version, seemed to have some guitar problems at the end. Ed really got into Last Kiss, and succeeded in doing the same for the crowd. What a cool, albeit sad, song. Ed was lovin' it. Second encore with the lights on for Leaving Here. Rockin' version, although again some guitar problems. Overall great show, GREAT setlist, great crowd, and Mike McCready OWNS KNOXVILLE!