Some couples like to recreate their first date at the restaurant or location where they first felt the spark of their romance. Even though years may have passed and the venue has changed and evolved (like the couple), for a brief period they’re (hopefully) able to remember and feel a moment in time as they were when the relationship felt more magical than predictable.

Wednesday night’s Pearl Jam concert at Safeco Field served a somewhat similar purpose for me. For 3+ hours I felt whisked back to the time when I fell head over heels in love with Seattle – and Pearl Jam was the epicenter of that era in the early to mid-1990s.

It wasn’t just the music (although it certainly played a huge role) – but the vibe of the event and evening felt different from anything I’d felt in the city for years. Now granted I’ve been out of the live music scene for a long time so I can’t speak from much experience regarding other big concerts in the city over the past decade or so, but the energy of Pearl Jam’s Home Shows had the city abuzz akin to the Seahawks-49ers NFC Championship game – without the trash-talking.

What made the evening and experience even more special to me was that this was Ty’s first-ever concert. This is a far cry from my first, when I went to the Captain and Tenille at the Concord Pavillion with my brother and sister – at relatively the same age. I’m not sure what he quite expected going into the show as he was both excited and a little nervous – but he came away from it a full-blown fan of Pear Jam and declared it the highlight of his summer (so far).

We arrived at 5:30 and decided to head straight into the stadium (there was no line at that time) and find some food inside while waiting for the show. It was a smart move as we had no lines for our burgers (or beers) that we ate while watching fans slowly file into the general admission area. Seattle was experiencing record heat that day – our car thermometer read 100 degrees at one point as we neared the exit. So the stadium roof was closed and that kept temperatures to a moderately comfortable level. After the sun lowered behind the facility the roof began to open and we knew we’d have a show under the stars on a warm Seattle night.

As we waited for the show to start I did a lot of people watching and observed the diverse crowd. There were many middle-aged GenExers, such as myself and also a mix of other parents who brought their kids to the show. There were older baby boomers and younger millennials. There people with tons of tattoos and others who looked like they came straight from one of the many tech companies swarming Seattle. This kind of mix also brought me back to the early 1990s when Seattle seemed like a bigger and funkier mixed bag of people and personalities.

The last Pearl Jam concert I attended was their show in Key Arena in 1994 when they closed their worldwide tour. I remember that show for the raw energy and passion on display. The mosh pit was frothing with bodies and the highlight was when Eddie pulled a fan onto stage to help sing “Alive” and the fan stage dove into the crowd. Wednesday’s crowd also had a mosh pit – I guess. But instead of body slamming the crowd mostly bounced and bobbed to the music. There was no stage diving that night (although it looked like Eddie considered it a time or two) but that was OK. We’ve all changed and grown up – even Pearl Jam. At one point Eddie talked about his kids and recognized the important work of teachers in our society. He dedicated one of his songs during their first encore to the teachers and invited them on stage with his kids. He talked about how the band had 10 kids between them now – and the crowd roared its approval.

As for the concert – wow, what can I say? Even though PJ forced us to wait until nearly 8:30 before taking the stage (apparently there turned out to be longer-than-expected lines getting into Safeco) it was soon forgotten as the band launched into its set. Our seats were near the press box on the 2nd level – which gave us what should have been a central view of the stage. The only problem was the multiple stacked speakers set up and arranged in the infield that partially obstructed the view of Eddie and the rest of the band at times. We had to rely on the dual screens straddling the stage to watch much of the action but the acoustics were amazing and the band never sounded better. I was struck by what an amazingly talented group of musicians these guys are – and how much they clearly still love playing and performing music for their fans.

The energy was just so impressive song after song – especially when I remembered this is a group of middle-age guys and not young 20-somethings. For more than 3 hours (including the 2 encores) they left it all on stage and the crowd reciprocated with its own energy – singing along with songs and soaking in the summer evening.

Even though the concert officially ended around 11:30 pm it took a long time for the energy generated that night to dissipate. Even now, days later, I still think back to that experience and can feel the Pearl Jam concert high.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *