Monday, August 8, 2011

PJ20: fifteen

Madison Square Garden - June 2008

I'm embarrassed to admit it took me over a quarter century before I made it to Madison Square Garden. The experience was monumental for obvious reasons, but the trip was an adventure in and of itself. I had two 10C tickets for both shows at MSG in 2008 and made the trek from Ardmore, PA each night. While sitting in traffic through the Lincoln Tunnel I noticed my car's battery light go on. I thought, "Just make it to the show and deal with it later."

The first time walking into MSG is a chaotic whirlwind. People flood the streets and corridors leading to the hallowed halls. Once in, it's an uphill hike to any level of seats. When you reach your seats you can really feel the history of the building. I've heard you can actually feel the building shake when the room's on fire. It wasn't till Corduroy on night one that I actually believed it.

Both nights offered some great moments and special surprises. For the first act, Pearl Jam invited a group of backup singers for a few songs including All Night and Who You Are. The trio included Fonzi Thorton who's worked with Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin and David Bowie to name a few. C.J. Ramone was also there to help out on bass for I Believe In Miracles. Other high points of MSG night one were incredible versions of Present Tense and W.M.A.

On the way home that pesky battery light was back. We barely made it to the first rest stop on the turnpike before the car was dead. The extremely helpful Sunoco night shifter helped us diagnose the problem. The alternator was shot so the battery wasn't holding a charge. We slept the night at the rest stop while the battery charged and at dawn we made a break for it before rush hour. We conserved every ounce of power to ensure the battery would last the long ride home. Fortunately for us the car made it back to the mainline where it eventually died on Lancaster Ave forcing us to push it the last quarter mile to the mechanic.

I had my doubts I'd be able to make the second show, but this was MSG night two! The car was repaired and less than ten hours after arriving home I was back on the road headed through the Lincoln Tunnel. I'm so happy I persevered.

From the word go Pearl Jam meant business opening with Release. The night got really serious when we were treated to the first Garden since 2006. You can tell how special MSG is for the band by the way they construct setlists for this building. It's their east coast home. In addition to the backup trio, Pearl Jam also welcomed Ace Frehley from KISS to perform Black Diamond with Mike and Matt exchanging lead vocal responsibility.

My first two shows at MSG were quite the introduction to how Pearl Jam owns MSG. It's hard to say where they rank compared to other great Pearl Jam shows there. Some are better, but is there really such a thing as a bad Pearl Jam show at the Garden? For your listening pleasure there's links to the audience recordings and a couple videos of the highlights. ENJOY!

Pearl Jam 06.24.08 Download Part 1

Pearl Jam 06.24.08 Download Part 2

Pearl Jam 06.25.08 Download Part 2

Pearl Jam 06.25.08 Download Part 2

No comments:

Post a Comment