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"i wish i was a 40 foot wave...":
opening shows of the 1998 tour
--part 2--
21 & 22 february, 1998
maui, hawaii

21 february

Slightly more worse for wear today, we spend a morning on the beach, head out towards Hana for an incredible lunch and to check out the waves, stopping at Kmart for more camera batteries, before dropping me at the venue at 3pm. I'm heading down front again (or at least trying to) and tonight want my very own barrier space. Jean and Tony, however, are heading for the bleachers; hardly a cop-out, considering the size of the place, they won't be more than 100 ft away from the stage no matter where they are. I, however, have "the fever" and after the relative piece of cake last night was, there's no way I won't try it again.

I meet some of the same faces from the night before and we join forces -- they wait on the line in the SHADE while I head the other way for the main gate and sit in the sun. One, I wanted more sun time, two, the main gate's a shorter run to the stage, and three, I can hear the soundcheck better from there. 1 and 2 worked fine, but #3 didn't come to fruition -- I heard a few chords of "Corduroy" but that could have just as easily been a roadie.

But it all pays off, as we all get our places on the new metal barrier, me slightly closer to center, right in front of Mike as opposed to the left of him -- and then I meet even MORE cool people, including Kevin, who sent us the Maui poster scan. Tony and Jean are in back, and Tony has befriended someone in the beer tent, cuz he keeps showing up with little bits of information: we're gonna love the setlist (but I won't let him tell me what's on it!), that Neil Has Arrived. The crowd tonight seems more relaxed, younger and older at the same time, calmer -- we had lots of room all through Mudhoney's excellent set, and right up until PJ hit the stage. However, that soon changed, and I had to sacrifice keeping the setlist vs. the camera (and guess which won. A setlist I can get later. Photos cannot be replaced!)

During the Mudhoney set, I notice that the guests side-stage are greater in quantity than the night before. Figures; everyone wants to see Neil. I do see a short, dark-haired woman that looks very familiar, so familiar I borrow the binoculars from the guy next to me to scope her out. At that moment the crowd jostled, so I gave up. Only later on, when a friend was regaling me with tales of backstage did I realize who it was: Susan Silver, former Soundgarden manager, who was accompanied by her husband, none other than Chris Cornell! (Jean later: "FUCK! i could have seen Neil Young, Chris Cornell & Eddie Vedder in one night. KAKDJFKLDJALKFJ AKLDJFLAJDKLAJDL") It was obviously old home week for PJ as much as it was for us.

So, the stage is ready, the incense is lit, I see Mike's roadie holding the Flying V and I steel myself for mass pandemonium as PJ hit the stage with "Do The Evolution," and it's clear that tonight things are going to be VERY different as far as they're concerned.

Pandemonium is not the word. It doesn't come close to doing justice to the manic energy and raw power that emanated from that stage . As we suspected, after last night the band was going to be razor sharp and on target and they sure as fuck were. The audience is screaming the words at the top of their lungs, it's beyond screaming, McCready is flying around the stage circa 92, Eddie is completely focused and absolutely intense, Jeff seems to be jumping and bounding everywhere. Oh man. A zillion flashes went off in the audience and it just added to the moment.

I have to say that this version of DTE is now #1 in my list of Finest Pearl Jam Moments I Have Witnessed and is also reason #3 that the Maui Trip Rocked (number #2 being "In Hiding" and #1...well, wait for it. =) ) Words cannot describe it, the tape will hardly do it justice, and if the rumored video did indeed get shot, maybe then you'd get one eighth of what went on. I fully expected to see the energy manifest itself as sparkles in the air.

Next were "Animal" and "Hail Hail" and we are still riding this wave of energy. These were deliberate choices, perfect accompaniments, the band are in command tonight and we are just here to enjoy this. "Brain of J," up next, likewise. Why on earth they needed to move into "Dissident" next I still don't understand -- you've all heard this before -- but okay, it rocked (but I would have way rather seen a song from Yield, ANY song from Yield, than this one).

"Faithfull" again, up next, redeemed it, we're all screaming along with Ed again, and as we go into "In My Tree" I notice a sunglasses-bedecked Mr. Neil Young standing on Stone's side of the stage, behind the amps, rocking out. I excitedly point him out to everyone around me and we freak! I can't wait for him to get onstage. Jean and Tony have never seen him! This is too fucking cool! An awesome version of "In My Tree" goes next, Eddie strapping on the guitar and telling us that this was a song about a guy who hides up in a tree, Jack absolutely distinguishing himself. This is followed by a stellar "Wish List" and then I'm frantically checking the film in my camera as they go into "Off He Goes". This is such a Neil song, people on the Neil mailing list have alleged it's about him, and surely if he's gonna join them, it'll be soon, right??? Nope.

Another killer version of "Corduroy" is up next, followed by yet another transcendent version of GTF, Mike once again outdoing himself, I do not know where he is getting this amazing energy from but -- wow. "Evenflow" again, Stone once more on bongos (Jean said he played them on more than one song but I didn't see it and she couldn't remember), an okay version but not the best I've heard. And once again, the crowd-pleasing "Daughter," the only thing making me happy is that he did the "Noise of Carpet" tag that was a hallmark of the 96 tour.

"MFC" gives us the last of our Yield allotment for tonight - really disappointed that we didn't get "In Hiding" or any thing from the album that we didn't hear last night, but this show was so great that it almost didn't matter -- and from there they crashed into "Lukin", followed by the always-ethereal "Immortality".

And then we hear those familiar chords as the band charges into "Alive". Classic Rock Hit [tm] or not, this is the song I never want them to stop doing -- and the lights are on the crowd and it's yet another singalong, the band is just doing this song justice, a positively magnificent, majestic version, the crowd is almost outsinging the band, it is just one of those Pearl Jam moments.

We reach the solos, and Ed jumps off the stage and heads right towards our side of the audience. Of course I stick my hand out; I don't expect him to grab it, that kind of stuff never happens to me with ANY band -- but he's got the hand of the guy next to me and I'm thinking more about whether to try to take a picture as he works his way along the crowd.

And the next thing I know, Eddie's grabbed MY left hand. I look at him, he's looking RIGHT at me and I feel a piece of plastic being pushed into my hand and him closing my fingers over it and I bring my fist up to my face and it's his GUITAR PICK, I saw him reaching into his pocket as he came down the stage, I have a look of utter shock, disbelief and delight on my face -- he looks back at me as he climbs back on stage, I guess to make sure that I got it and I scream at everyone that I need ROOM to get my hand into my pocket, where I deposit this treasure for the remainder of the show -- the security guard in front of me very nicely offering to hold it for me, he was cool, but no way in HELL -- and the gang around me proceeds to squeal and hi-five and hug me and pound me on the back for my good fortune. I am SPEECHLESS, but stare up at the stars and sing the rest of the song, this dumb grin on my face, as loud as I can.

That's the end of the show. Okay, encore time, and let's get ready for NEIL, right??? Uh-uh. Instead, they come out and grace us with a great "I Got Shit," another rousing "Betterman" (with a "Save It For Later" tag at the end of it -- we were screaming and overjoyed at that one down in our area!), and then Ed donned this beautiful old flattop guitar and told us that the next song was not a song they play much (where is NEIL???), as we go into "Around The Bend," which was beautiful. Finally, they totally and completely change gears and end with the best version of "state" that I have ever heard, pretty much out-ranking that amazing Singles premiere party version, the crowd holding a minor riot as we draw to a close.

Eddie hoists a Corona and toasts us -- and it's over. I say goodbye to my compatriots, admonish them to WRITE (and if you are reading this, you BETTER!), and find Jean and Tony only a few feet behind me -- they'd started out in the bleachers but the crowd was negotiable enough for them to get pretty close a few songs into the set, safely. I discover that she hadn't kept a setlist either. "I bet we can reconstruct it," she said, but we can't, and all we want to do is babble about the show and stare at a certain piece of plastic.

22/23 February

Sunday it rained, so we didn't head out for Hana -- too tired to do much anyway -- we slept late, got the photos developed, did some shopping, cooked an awesome dinner, talked about the shows, counted our bruises, watched Xfiles. Monday we laid in the sun, drove around, ate another great meal and then they dropped me at the airport around 6pm. I seem to be the only person on the planet who didn't run into the band that night.

It's 3am PST and I'm writing this on the plane home. I can't sleep, I'm still wired, I'm still bubbling, I'm still thinking about the shows. And yeah, that little piece of plastic is right next to my notebook as I write this.

This was just the best trip EVER -- the Oakland shows were great, PJ were great, the Stones rocked, but there was nothing like this. Saturday night is the best PJ show I've seen them do, and while, again, I missed the presence of the Yield songs -- I had "Lowlight" in my head all day Sunday, wished I'd heard "Pilate", wonder about "No Way" -- what I saw most certainly bodes well for the future, whether it be the Australian shows or the summer tour. I was happy that Jean got to see all the little additions to the show that they did in 96, but she didn't get to see; I was happy to see everyone looking great and playing their asses off; and once again, the people we met were just the greatest, otherwise normal but manic PJ fans just like us. We're not the only ones with this disease. =)

I don't know whether it's a good thing or a bad thing that it took PJ to get me to take a trip like this, take 5 days off, eat some good food, hang with good people, get some sun and a little color in my face. But they did, I did, and the result was only good. =)

Oh, flying home from Maui to Honolulu to catch my connection, Robbie Robb sat down right across from me. We're apparently getting another Three Fish album this year -- Jeff's going to LA in April to record. And I also heard something about another PJ/NY album -- although I know that Neil has a house on the Big Island, so it's not like he flew in all the way from San Fran just for this show. But, it's a nice thought if nothing else. I am just amazed by the amount of music these guys have in themselves and completely grateful that they choose to share it all with us.


the mosh pit syndrome

Luckily, PJ have forgone the GA venues for the most part on the forthcoming tour. While the front where I was was a picnic relative to other shows I have seen, in the center it was hellacious and I heard of many people getting injured. If you have a GA show and are going to go down front, here's some advice, take it or leave it: don’t head for the center. Head for the side, and make sure you’re no more than one person from the barrier so you have something to hang onto. Befriend everyone in your area and organize them so that they aren’t going to let any pushy people through at the last minute. Keep as much space as you can as long as you can. And WEAR THE RIGHT SHOES! Docs or other type boots if you’ve got ‘em, sturdy sneakers if you don’t. Do not try to brave the pit in sandals, anything with a heel, or anything you love and care about. It goes without saying that you need to wear clothes you don’t give a damn about – jeans preferably, not shorts, no matter how hot – and girls, DO NOT WEAR TANK TOPS or anything that could be pulled off you easily. Even if it’s not on purpose, someone going down who needs to grab on to the nearest thing could accidentally divest you of tiny bits of clothing.

taping policy and cameras

It amazed me that up until the day of the show, the MACC was still saying "no tape recorders". It took some convincing by early people in line that PJ did in fact allow recording of their shows to ease the way in for the tapers in the audience, and even then people were having their equipment confiscated later and had a lot of problems the next day. As for cameras, the policy waffled from "no cameras" to "disposables are okay" to "cameras the same size as a disposable are okay". I didn’t sneak my camera in the second night as a result of the last statement, only to have a security guard accost me halfway through the show and tell me I shouldn’t have gotten it in. Not much I could do about it at that point – I couldn’t even move enough to get the camera into my bag, and there were plenty of other people with way better cameras than my $98 Target special down there – they were just smaller (and more expensive) than my camera. That doesn't seem to make much sense.

I would like to respectfully suggest that PJ define their policy for these items in written format, once and for all, and to distribute them IN ADVANCE to all the venues on the upcoming tour. Even with a clear written policy, there is still going to be problems with security guards – the policy for Key Arena in 96 clearly stated that recorders were okay, yet my friends Jeff and Karen got busted taping with a DICTAPHONE halfway through the show, and the same thing happened with someone I know with a camera. Only these people insisting that the security guard in question check their written instructions (which clearly said that both of these items were allowed) and/or calling the person in charge averted the equipment being confiscated. Anyone taking photos with a 35mm point-and-shoot is not shooting for publication - I can understand them not allowing SLRs with zoom lenses in, though no professional photographer will survive the pit anyway. I can understand and agree with not allowing large boom mics or mic stands, but if someone’s got a DAT with a handheld mic, I'm not seeing how this is in violation of the spirit of the taping priviledge.

The point being -- there's no point in making a big deal about how taping PJ shows is okay if the band's management and tour staff doesn't do their part to allow this. To say that they will follow "venue policy" isn't a good thing to rely on since most venues don't allow taping. If they got it solid and in writing once, then they would not have to waste their time continually coaching venue security on these issues.

Text and photographs copyright © 1998 Caryn Rose