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"I wish I was the sound, of 50 million hands upraised for Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan"
Pearl Jam in Melbourne, Australia
3/5/98 Melbourne Park

review by Adam Ryan

Wow! What a show ... it was awesome. My first attendance of a Pearl Jam concert, and what a performance to watch and listen to. Complete with two encores, this show had plenty to satisfy the most ardent Pearl Jam fans.

The show was live around Australia on JJJ radio station, and also cybercast worldwide on the JJJ internet site. Nothing compared to being there, although I am listening to the show on tape now as I write this, and it rocks.

PJ start out with 'Release,' as they did three years ago for the last Melbourne Park (known then as "Flinders Park Tennis Centre") concert. Coincidence? Maybe. You be the judge. What a great opening. The lights were out, and we hear the first few chords and the crowd erupts.

'Brain of J' was the next song, the first of six to be played from Yield.

'Animal' was next; great to watch live, you could see the emotion of the band come. Also of note was that Jeff played about 90% of the show minus one of his trademark hats!

'Faithfull' was the fourth song played and it sounded fantastic. 'In My Tree' (with a slightly different intro) was next, followed by 'I Got Id' and the incredible 'Corduroy.'

One of the highlights of the night was 'Wishlist.' Ed changed some of the lyrics and they were fantastic. In a moving tribute to his late friend, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, he added:

I wish I was the evidence,
I wish I was the sound,
of 50 million hands upraised for Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

I doubt if many people actually understood what he meant here, but as I listen to it again and again, I marvel at the ability of Ed to reword the songs to suit any feeling he or the rest of the band have. That was a subtle, but truly brilliant line in honour of Nusrat.

The final line that Ed added to 'Wishlist' was:
I wish I was a lucky man, well I guess....that I am.
I wish that I could share with my friends,
oh, how many friends that I have.

He gestured to the crowd as if to say that we were all friends of the band. A great moment, and the crowd really got into it. This is where Ed started to talk to the crowd. He went on to say:

Thanks a lot. "Onya! How you be, you be people of the sea? ('Onya' is Australian slang for 'Good On You'). It's been yonks since we've seen ya. Tonight, we're on the radio, so if there is anyone you want to say Hi to, just say...."

At this point, the crowd goes wild and Eddie gestures to get the crowd pumped up to make as much noise of possible. He pretends to unzip his pants and the crowd chants, "Eddie, Eddie, Eddie".

The next songs on the setlist were 'Even Flow' and 'Spin the Black Circle' ... both terrific versions.

The crowd pleasing 'Daughter' was next, and ended with an extended jam that I have not heard before, with Eddie seemingly singing:
"Poor little girl, screaming traffic (or trapped?) in her ear (hair?)......Were'd (were did) Mum go? Where'd My Mum go? Where'd Mum Go? Go, go, go, go, go, go.....go, go, go...."

This was an amazing version. It sounded very much like the way Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan chanted his songs. An incredible song to hear and watch live.

'Give to Fly' was next -- the fourth song from Yield for the night.

Ed then says, at the conclusion of 'Given To Fly':

"Speaking of Given To Fly, I don't know if you can see it, but, uh....I know you fuckers on the radio can't see it, so fuck you....The people in the building..these are...I'm wearing the official shoes of Luc Longley you see. You know who he is, yeah? (at this point, the crowd start giving the "Luuuuccccccc" chant that the Chicago Bulls court announcer has made famous) Ahh, these shoes, are.....they're, are...Luc Longley models it, apparently Michael Jordan made famous, but, uh, and, uh...Anyways, we're gonna change the lyric tonight to "Hail, Hail, All hail the lucky ones, the ones who are tall"....This one's for Luc Longley!

(Note: for those unfamiliar with the relevance of Luc Longley to the concert here in Melbourne; Luc Longley is Australian, born here, and is starting centre for the world champion Bulls!)

A great version of 'Hail, Hail' ensues. With lines such as:
Hail, hail the lucky ones, I refer to those who are tall, yeah ...
... Are we going to the same place, even though I am small ...

'MFC' is the next offering on the menu, and it sounds unbelievable live.

After 'MFC,' Ed says: "Haven't played this one in quite a while, we'll see how it goes ... Oh actually, I was gonna play this too ..." and PJ start play to 'Crazy Mary,' after a few lines, move straight into 'Elderly Woman.'

Next up was 'Off He Goes,' one of three songs played for the night from No Code. This sounds fantastic live. The band once again were right into this. The atmosphere was amazing all night long.

'State of Love and Trust' followed. It really went off. The crowd were loving every second of it. The mosh pit was rocking all night, but this really got them moving.

'Do The Evolution' was next, with Ed saying, "Come on and dance" as the first chords echoed throughout the arena. This is personally my favourite Pearl Jam song at the moment. I love it. It just really works for me.

Shudder to Think (support act for NZ/Aust tour) lead singer, Craig Wedren joins in for the high note of 'Hallelujah' and Ed beams out a deep and lower than usual 'Hallelujah' which really sounded quite amazing. I love the song and the crowd was into the performance like nothing else.

'Alive' is the finisher for the set. To say the crowd went wild when the guitars played the first few chords would be a huge understatement. This was rocking. So much emotion for what would be the final song for this set. At the end of 'Alive' after a fantastic solo on guitar from Mike, Ed was pacing the stage looking for somewhere or something to jump off. He settled for what I think was one of the speakers near on Jack's left and jumped very high, as they played the final chords to a packed house. An awesome ending.

After about five minutes off stage, and a 'roadie' who ran across the front of stage in the dark who the crowd thought was Ed (followed by many boo's from the fans when they realise it wasn't the guys), PJ come back on for the first of two encores.

Ed said: "We've fucking been in Melbourne for 5 days .... we can't leave yet. Who wants ... to, uh .. don't go on me ..."

The first encore features 'Go,' 'Black,' 'Rearviewmirror' and 'Immortality.'

'Go' is played as fast and intense as I have ever heard. Truly magical.

'Black' is one of the best songs I have ever listened to, and to see it played live was remarkable. The line where Ed sings, "I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be star, in somebody ele's sky, but why, oh why, can't it be, can't it be mine" has a very special meaning for me and to see them play this in person was a moving moment.

'Rearviewmirror' was pumping, as you would expect. The first few chords were played a lot slower than usual, and then then tempo quickly picked up and the song was roaring at its best.

'Immortality' is a great song. However, this version took it to another level for me. One I'd never imagined existed. A spine tingling rendition, featuring gorgeous lyrics, perfect sound and the most incredible drumming I have ever heard (and now, seen :-) )....Jack Irons was amazing all night, but during 'Immortality' he was "on" more than anyone I had ever heard play before. For over a minute, with Jeff, Mike and Ed gathered around the drum kit, (Stone was hanging back a little, in his own zone on guitar) Jack was ripping the drums like he was possessed.

If you managed to hear this over the cybercast (for those out of Australia) you will have some idea what I mean. But for goodness sake, get a copy of this show, it is awesome. The end of this song with Jack going off on drums is worth it alone and the whole crowd knew it. A phenomenal finish for the first encore.

Ed says, "Thanks, so much. It's been a real pleasure," and PJ head off stage.

The band leave the stage and then the chant for another encore begins. After a minute or two, they are back for more. The second encore was 'Indifference' and 'Porch.'

Before they play, Ed grabs the stool that Jeff was using during the show, and lies on it like Superman and wraps the Australian flag around him, like a cape, and rolls across the stage, much to the appreciation of the crowd. Ed says: "That's how you make us feel."

Two great songs to finish this super show. 'Indifference' was magnificent to hear live.

A great friend of mine who was in the mosh pit, said that there was a guy in the mosh pit with a sign that read, "Please play PORCH" written in texta (felt pen) on it. Eddie makes mention of the fan in the pit but it hard to pick up on radio. 'Porch' was a fantastic finale to a show that would be very hard to top.

© Adam Ryan ... used with permission