Welcome to The Last Exit

Here you will find a vast amount of Pearl Jam bootleg reviews. It will continually be updated with new, in depth reviews. If you read a review and decide you wish to download or buy that bootleg, look near the top left corner of the homepage and click, "Where Can I Get These Bootlegs?" Enjoy! Posters above are copyrighted to Brad Klausen. Background poster copyrighted to Rhys Cooper. All posted with their permission.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Houston I 2000

I wanted to let everyone know the blog is still alive, and I am well. I hope you are too! While my boot review writing has slowed down, my listening to them has not. In a time where hate seems so prevalent, I hope the music of live PJ can help bring about positivity. Below is my take on Houston 1 2000, a wonderful show for any summer....

In a low, almost southern-like drawl for the Texas crowd, Ed softly asks, "How y'all doing?" The first night of two in Houston, Texas begins with a sweet Long Road. The audio mix is soothing, with warm tones; most notably in Matt's drum kit. His tom toms resonate deep, complementing Ed's baritone. Matt plays the outro to LR a bit more upbeat, leading into Breakerfall. Flawless, lively renditions of the three rockers, Breakerfall-Corduroy-Whipping are next. Having Whipping early in a set is quite cool, with lots of energy to boot. There is an absolutely killer version of Hail Hail. "You know who you are, you're in love! Yeah!" It sounds as if Ed is about to explode with energy and is incredibly into it. Add to it Matt playing extra build ups on the interlude. That raw live feel feeds into Animal next. Matt and Mike in the first verse are on fire with extra drum fills and a guitar slide right there to exploit it. Mike's outro also sounds brighter and more up front. Dissident's intro is a little off with Matt missing a beat and Mike getting a bit off time and missing notes. The rest of the song is pleasing. Matt kills it by dynamics on this one with crash cymbal/kick drum build ups mid way through Mike's riff. Ed tells the crowd afterwards that Houston feels like Hawaii compared to the 28 degree show in Alpine, Wisconsin earlier in the tour. 

NAIS features some scratchy and swampy riffs from Stone, and a slightly different snare roll from Matt as the song builds into its massive interlude. Driving it with force and essentially double timing it for a moment, the placement of the snare roll is superb musicianship. GTF-Untitled-MFC is elegant set flow. Go listen for the subtle kick drum accents in Untitled. They are far more than just background beat. Contrasting and harsh set flow is made with a blistering Habit, then into a soft Wishlist and bright Betterman. Odd, sure, but I enjoyed it personally here; especially since the set has felt heavy so far. Ed doesn't struggle with the lyrics on Wishlist like he did in many of the 2000 shows.

It's almost a quick rarity interlude late in the main set with Evacuation and Mankind; illustrated by Stone saying they are going to do another obscure one and then play ones you know. After a terrible start, they try to redo Mankind. Mike struggles throughout the song. It's pretty ropey, but thankfully, Evacuation is mostly solid to make up for it. Ed mismatches lyrics some, but it's a convincing and enjoyable play. As much as I love hearing some oddities, it's a minor fumble in a set that's been very tight so far. Jeremy-Black-Porch help remedy this as an epic way to conclude a main set. Porch is especially strong with Ed's lyrical improv in the jam. "Some people give....some people hate." The Ten trio feels somewhat dark and somber in its placement in the show, in an intriguing way, and emphasized by the moody lyrical improv by Ed in Porch. As a whole, it's a truly enjoyable main set with Mike and Matt showcasing energy and power. 

Last Exit-SOLAT-Sleight of Hand are 3 of my favorite PJ tunes, so to have that trio initiate the encore leaves me incredibly jealous. All are played well, and nothing too flashy. It's interesting that SOLAT and SOH can work so well together. The guitars and Jeff's bass create a thick, atmospheric wall of sound on the chilling Binaural number. Even Flow is titled “Buried Alive” tonight, good energy late in the gig. Jeff shines on Mike's solo early on with deep, rich tones. 

"My Son is Slow" improv features Ed strumming softly, and vocal melodies reminiscent of a Janes Addiction tune, to my ears. It leaves one with a smile as the guys move immediately into Last Kiss; a nice way to build momentum for the overplayed cover. Those two should be played together again. Another car song follows, as RVM gets the show rocking once more. Jeff stands out in the mix for me, just rock solid. Next, about midway through Soon Forget, Ed has to stop and proclaims, "It broke!" The Houston crowd loudly claps to the beat of a quiet little song, and finishes fine. YL then concludes the show. 

Houston night 1 2000 is an incredibly fun bootleg. It is not a full blown party show like Philly 2009, nor is it an epic like Seattle 2 2000. It is, however, a truly great show in its own right. I've listened to this one probably 6 times in full and each time it grows on me bit by bit. The second night in Houston is a slightly tighter show with a few more rarities, but doesn't quite establish the feel that this one captures. Both come recommended. In fact, all 4 of the Texas gigs from 2000 are quite strong. Most fans seem to agree that Lubbock is the strongest of the bunch. While I enjoy that one tremendously, I still believe Houston 1 is my favorite of the Texas 2000 run.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

List of Great Versions of PJ Songs

“Best” live versions of songs are quite subjective, and will alter over time, but this list is for performances of songs that have stood out to me in one way or another in their excellence. Below are some of my favorite live versions of various PJ songs. All in alphabetical order and only official bootlegs since 2000 are included. This list will be updated from time to time to include more songs, and top notch performances.

All Those Yesterdays- Bristow 2010
Animal- Lisbon 2010/Portland 2013/Cardiff 2000
Betterman- Calgary 2005/London 2005
Black- Madrid 2006/Ljubljana 2000                                                     
Corduroy- Amsterdam 1 2012/Toronto 2 2006
Crazy Mary- Winnipeg 2005/Grand Rapids 2006
Daughter- Nashville 2000/Barcelona 2000/Edmonton 2005/San Diego 2000/WPB 2 2000
DTE- Nashville 2000
Education- Lexington 2016
Evacuation- Oslo 2000
Even Flow- Barcelona 2000
Given To Fly- Cardiff 2000
Go- Vitoria 2006/ Toronto 2 2006
Grievance- Manchester 2000
Habit- Berlin 2000
Hard to Imagine- Baltimore 2013/Tulsa 2014
I Am Mine- Hampton 2016
Indifference- Bologna 2006/Winnipeg 2005
Infallible- Pittsburgh 2013
Jeremy-San Francisco 2000
Last Kiss-Calgary 2005
Leatherman- Nashville 2000 (Ed’s vocals are so strong)
Light Years- Sacramento 2000
Love Boat Captain- Cincy 2014
Low Light- Ottawa 2011/Columbia 2016
Lukin & Not For You- Houston 2 2000, Ed’s vocals are strong and brutal in Lukin (lyrics are wrong though)
MYM- Hampton 2016
Nothing As It Seems- Edmonton 2005
Oceans-Vancouver 2013
Of The Girl- Pittsburgh 2013/Cincy 2014/Albuquerque 2000
Once-Atlantic City 2 2005
Pendulum- Pittsburgh 2013/Cincy 2014
Porch- Atlantic City 2 2005/Baltimore 2013/ San Francisco 2000
Rats- Amsterdam 1 2012
Release- Tokyo 2003/ San Francisco 2000
RVM- Philly 1 2013
Sad- LA 2 2006/ San Francisco 1 2006
Save You- Kitchener 2005
Severed Hand- Zagreb 2006
Sirens-Pittsburgh 2013/Brooklyn 2 2013/Hampton 2016
Sleight of Hand- Oslo 2000
Small Town- Madrid 2006
Sometimes-Charlotte 2003
Speed of Sound- Pittsburgh 2013
Spin the Black Circle- Columbus 2000
SOLAT- Glasgow 2000
Swallowed Whole- Greenville 2016
Thumbing My Way- Calgary 2005/Lexington 2016
Tremor Christ- San Diego 2013/Memphis 2000
U- Atlantic City 2 2005
Why Go- Philly 1 2013/Grand Rapids 2006
Wishlist- Atlantic City 2 2005
WMA- Greenville 2016
World Wide Suicide- Vitoria 2006/Grand Rapids 2006
Yellow Moon- Pittsburgh 2013


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Favorite Versions of Lightning Bolt Tracks 2013-2016

With the conclusion of the spring tour, I figured it would be interesting to compile a list of my favorite live versions of LB tracks over the past few years. It’s also cool to see how certain tracks like Sirens and Future Days have evolved over the past few years. Regardless, as we begin to close the proverbial book on the LB era, there is no doubt the band was in top form all 3 years. Each tour provided something unique, and when it is all said and done, I believe the LB era will remain one of my favorite eras of live PJ.  

Getaway: Seattle ‘13
Mind Your Manners: Detroit ‘14  
My Father’s Son: St. Louis ‘14
Sirens: Sao Paulo ‘15/ Brooklyn II ‘13
Lightning Bolt: Tulsa ‘14/ Sao Paulo ‘15
Infallible: Miami ‘16
Pendulum: Pittsburgh ‘13
Swallowed Whole: Greenville ‘16
Let The Records Play: Philly II ‘16
Sleeping By Myself: Mexico City ‘15/Milwaukee ‘14
Yellow Moon: Brooklyn II ‘13
Future Days: Charlottesville ‘13

Notes: To my ears, Getaway: Seattle ’13, Father’s Son: St. Louis ’14, Infallible: Miami ’16 and Swallowed Whole: Greenville ’16 are without a doubt my favorite versions since 2013. The other tracks from the record were not as easy to differentiate between (especially LB, Pendulum, LTRP, Yellow Moon). Those four were essentially a tossup for me. Although MYM from Detroit ’14 is not perfect musically, Ed’s vocals were extra raspy and pretty ferocious… so that’s the version that stood out in my mind. For Sirens I wrestled with Brooklyn II ’13 and Sao Paulo ‘15… both are excellent versions. I felt the two takes of SBM listed above were comparatively good. SBM in San Diego (its live debut I believe) is also pretty fun due to Ed’s endearing mistakes. Lastly for Future Days, the renditions that came to mind were CVille ’13, Denver ’14 and Greenville ’16. I enjoy each, but the sonic clarity of the version from CVille is what puts it over the top for me.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Ft. Lauderdale 2016

Opening night of the tour… What a night it must have been in South Florida. The show begins with the album version “false start” rendition of Go. The crowd is very audible upon the start of Go, and the energy and excitement in the building is palpable. Do yourself a favor and listen to this version of Go with headphones at max volume, you won’t regret it! The fast and heavy start continues with MYM and Corduroy to follow. Again as we saw in SA ’15, the reworked version of Corduroy with the interlude is seen here. During the break Ed greets the audience and proclaims “Let’s melt some ice!” The venue is the home of the NHL’s Florida Panthers. GTF follows Corduroy which keeps the energy flowing nicely. The first big surprise of the night was obviously Help Help’s first play since 2011, and only its 11th overall. It’s a solid play on the Riot Act rarity, however, my only complaint was Jeff’s backup vocals are a little too high in the mix to my liking. Not a big deal, but during Ed’s line “The man they call my enemy…Clearer” Jeff is a tad bit distracting. Flowing nicely after Help Help is a strong version of Deep. Nothingman and Small Town then slow the pace momentarily, with Ed sounding strong in the former. Following Small Town, Ed tells a fairly amusing story about some possible hallucinogenic extra ingredients in his toothpaste the morning before the show. Fittingly, Severed Hand is played next, and is excellent. The outro jam is very lively here. Unthought Known and Sirens to follow are both solid performances with Ed offering some different vocal melodies than 13-15 versions of the slow burning LB track. A snippet of Cheap Trick’s Surrender then leads into Even Flow.

Aside from Help Help-Deep, the highlight of the first set for me is the following melodic 4 song sequence of Amongst the Waves, I Am Mine, Swallowed Whole, and Who You Are. These 4 songs all complement each other lyrically and musically, and IMO all display a sense of positivity or hope. Ed mismatches a couple lyrics in ATW, but it’s a song I always enjoy hearing, especially when it’s played in fitting locales. I Am Mine and Swallowed Whole are both competent renditions, and Ed’s falsetto vocals sound really nice in Who You Are. DTE and Why Go then emphatically close a very strong first set.

The beautiful duo of Yellow Moon and Footsteps opens the first encore. Yellow Moon is a track that is simply elegant live, and this version is no exception. Footsteps is also excellent with Ed’s vocals sounding so smooth and strong… probably my favorite LB era version of the song. Last Kiss is then played to the back, and a stunning Black follows. The energy is then replenished with lively renditions of Comatose and Lightning Bolt. Ed ‘s vocals remain strong throughout Comatose, as well as a dependable LB. Appropriately, Porch then closes the first encore with excellent interplay between Stone and Mike in the jam.

A heartfelt Light Years, dedicated to former crew member, Tim “Skully” Quinlan who had passed away earlier in the day, opens the second encore. To my ears, a very solid take on the emotional Binaural number. The anthems follow with a tagless Better Man, Alive and Baba O’Riley sounding majestic as ever. Ed attempts I Am a Patriot for the first time in nearly 12 years; however, it’s a bit of a rusty take as he mismatches some of the lyrics. The take in Jacksonville is the superior version. Indifference closes the show.

Overall, a very enjoyable first night of the tour. Highlights for me include Help Help - Deep, Severed Hand, and the ATW- I Am Mine-Swallowed Whole -Who You Are sequence, and lastly Yellow Moon, Footsteps, Black, Light Years in the encores.


I wanted to take a brief moment to thank our new reviewer, Matt! I hope we get to hear more from him whenever possible. Great write up, my friend.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Thoughts on London 2 and Ljubljana 2000

Having been slightly burned out on the 2016 boots, I decided to look back to 2000 bootlegs to refresh me. The European leg of the massive tour especially drew my attention. I love the way the band plays on that run of shows. Ed’s vocals on the Euro 00 leg are some of my favorite. He rarely sounds forced, he usually sings far more subtle than any tours that came after, but it’s always coming from within and is strong. Watching some of the Euro 00 videos on YouTube, you can tell he is often in another world while singing. Not to say he seems distracted, but rather he seems as if he is lost in thought. For me, that adds to the depth of the material he sings about. Matt too, typically stands out to me on this leg. He adds countless different patterns that he didn’t normally do after this tour. He is looser, more jazzy, and like a constant free flow of energy. Mike and Stone’s guitar tones and textures sound great, and while Jeff is somewhat low in the mix, I love the soothing tone he has.

If I could take a step into Doc Brown’s time machine, just to see a leg of a PJ tour, I think this one definitely ranks near the top (Canada 2005 is close too). The first two of the Euro 00 run I’ve recently given a full spin are Ljubljana and London 2. I have listened to both before, but never reviewed London 2 in detail. I didn’t this time either! Back to Ljubljana, I didn’t quite care for it the first time I listened to it a couple years ago. The flow felt tedious then and performance too off. I did not experience that this time at all. Ljubljana is a good bootleg. It’s not fully representative of the greatness which is Euro 00, but it’s a good listen as a whole. I have updated my review to reflect that. Check out Black from that show, Mike’s riffs are godly. London 2 is essentially on the same level as Ljubljana. Both have nice sets and are more unique shows. London 2 actually gets better as it goes along. The last few songs in the main set are simply killer. For instance, the jam in Immortality and a fiery play on RVM. Matt’s drumming in Immortality on London 2 is outrageously good. His snare drum rolls and hard hitting style comes off like a bloody cannon! Mike’s riffs sound impeccable on RVM as well. Therefore, if you’re looking for a quick recommendation, London 2 and Ljubljana 00 are solid bets, in my opinion. Both seem to be highly regarded in the PJ community and worthy of a listen or two. The setlist alone for Ljubljana is certainly one of the more distinguishable ones from the Euro 00 norm.



Friday, May 27, 2016

Columbia 2016

One of only two shows on this leg of the 2016 tour to receive a 2013/2014 style opening; Oceans surprisingly begins Columbia 2016. Ed sings the choruses quite differently from the norm. Gone are the high notes, instead they are sang in a lower baritone. That was a bit at of a shock the show, but I enjoy the change. It accents the mood of the song and sounds soothing. Listen for Matt's tom toms resonating and the bright “pops” of his snare. At the show his bass drum was high in the mix and hit my chest hard, like a sonic boom. Low Light follows, featuring intricate riffs from Mike that are upfront here. Ed's vocals are strong on the melodic Yield number. At the show, my girlfriend was shocked at how Ed held out the long note at the end for so long, going even a few seconds after the song ends! Small Town serves as a greeting and a hello tonight. This opening trio nicely sets the tone for the rest of the show/boot to come.

Animal gets the blood flowing, with Ed's vocals sounding stronger on the song than the 2012-2014 performances. He is on fire this tour! The recording accurately picks up the textures of Jeff's bass notes and has everyone mixed at good levels. I am super happy to note that the static/clipping on Greenville and Hampton is completely gone on this bootleg. It sounds fantastic. MYM keeps the hard edge moving, some cool effects from Mike on the intro and outro like they were in Hampton. Killer setlist flow, DTE fits in brilliantly after MYM. Having it early in the show like this helps build momentum; Mike and Jeff put out great work. Mike's chuggy riffs are upfront and Jeff's work is catchy. Ed mumbles a few lines in the middle of the song, but honestly, in a fun song like this it's not that distracting. The energy is still lively. Ed then greets the crowd. Out of the 10 PJ shows I've attended, the Columbia crowd that night was probably the best I've seen. The whole place was doing “the wave” before the band came out. It was pretty cool! Not to mention, the Colonial Life Arena is a fantastic venue for a show. The inside has a lot of red color and simply looks well-kept and pretty. Ed notes it's a cozy place, and at approx 18,000 capacity, it still felt incredibly intimate somehow. The acoustics were bright and mostly clean (Matt's kick drum being extra loud though), I thought the room sounded good. It and the Hampton Coliseum are some of my favorite arenas I've been to.

After a lacking version of LB in Hampton, this rendition is quite the firecracker. Matt's drumming is more straight-forward and driving, while Jeff's bass is thick and heavy. Ed takes a moment to do a sing along with the audience before moving into GTF. Jeff again, keeps the tune sounding robust, and there's nicely done cymbal accents from Matt too. Speaking of Matt, his drumming is incredible on Immortality. The tom and snare fills are placed at just the right moments, never over doing it, but moving the song forward in an exciting way. Mike does the same, and Jeff really pushes the solo with Mike and Matt firing on all cylinders. It's a near perfect version of Immortality, in my ears. Even Flow keeps that energy going well, a double shot of Matt and Mike's strengths. The GTF-Immortality-Even Flow trio is interesting. It possesses this mix of melodic energy, haunting excitement, and a pure groove that intertwines throughout all three. After this trio, the final stretch of songs in the main set takes on a different tone. Is one that's slightly moody in a way, almost atmospheric, and reminded me of the 2000 tour style of set flow.

Ed acknowledges the loss of music legend, Prince, and how the band saw him as one of the greatest guitar players alive. I was in the merch line that morning when I found out, a shock. Light Years is a personal favorite, and having been through a lot of loss in my life, it always hit home. The version here is pretty rough in the intro with Ed not getting the guitar riff right, but by about midway through the first verse it finds a stable footing and sounds solid. Ed's vocal melodies on this play are incredibly gorgeous and heartfelt to the highest degree. That really strengthens this version from not being too ropey due to the brief trouble in the intro. Similarly, Marker in the Sand has guitar work troubles early on. This time it's Mike struggling in the intro and first verse to get it right. Once again, midway through the first verse the song gets on track and retains its flavor nicely. Jeff's thunderous bass shines here, just rock solid, on the tuneful Avocado song. It was a true highlight of my 4 show run this tour to have these two songs back to back. While they are not perfect on boot, at the gig, it was less noticeable. I could tell something was a smidgen off during those brief moments, but by the end of each song it felt like the set was tailored for me.

Ed addresses the need for action on climate change before moving into Infallible. Boom's keys are not right, and it's a dissonant sound. However, I didn't even notice it at the gig. While I know it's technically wrong on Boom's part, it's almost so harsh in the intro that it works in that dissonant, experimental kind of way and somewhat fits the song. That being said, I wouldn't call it a strong recording. It's incredibly odd that these last three songs have errors early on and seem to mostly fix themselves as they go on. Jeremy is utmost appropriate to follow, builds energy, has no technical errors, but still fits in this moody-like vibe that's been created. Ed's vocals are gold, sounding strong while also relaxed. They slightly reminded me of how he sounded in 2005. It's a heavy performance of the Ten classic, everyone puts on a wonderful showing. To immediately follow that up with I Got Shit is another highlight of the show. I had wanted to hear this song badly, and finally got to hear it live that night. It absorbed me while I was there, and the recording makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It and Jeremy are a killer, hard hitting combo. Not to mention, it's right before RVM to end the set. Mike gets slightly off time and wrong notes (I believe) at one point, but it's not too noticeable. The outro for RVM cooks here! Ed's vocals, for much of this set are top notch. Columbia's main set is one that is good and flies by, but with the three song run of LY-Marker-Infallible, having some performance errors early on in each, brings it down a notch as a bootleg.

Ed jokes around with some members of the audience and then gets the crowd to sing happy birthday for his mom. The day after this show was my 25th birthday, so it was special to be at this so close to my 25th during PJ’s 25th anniversary. Incredibly rare, for the first time, Rise is played at a PJ show. It’s only the start of what is a quintessential first encore, maybe the best I’ve ever seen. The EV tune sounds great here and felt just right at the gig. Ed’s stories about his mom selling her wedding ring to buy his first guitar, and his first job at a drug store are insightful and heartfelt. Sleight of Hand is up next. It’s another one of my favorite PJ songs, so hauntingly beautiful. This somber version is spine tingling. Mike’s intricate, almost U2 sounding riffs, in the back ground are perfect in the intro and verse. The chorus is dense with atmospheric guitar work and deep resonating bass notes from Jeff, and rich work by Matt. Ed’s voice carries an emotional weight with passion. The recording is simply bliss to my ears during Footsteps. Matt’s kick drum packs a weighty bass response, the guitars have just the right amount of crunch and brightness, and Ed’s vocals are top shelf. The flow and vibe of these songs in encore one is magical, effortless, never sluggish, but genuinely profound. Ed’s stories, comments, and dedications in between most of the songs here make it seem almost like a campfire gathering that night.

As if all this were not enough, a tightly performed All Those Yesterdays makes a lovely appearance. Vocally, Ed again sounding simply superb on the rare Yield track. Amazing is the nature of the flow between ATY and Corduroy being back to back. I wouldn’t have thought that, but it is brilliant. They are meant to be played like that as a combo; the outro of ATY leads into the intro of Corduroy with ease. Matt’s drumming towards the end of the solo in Corduroy, much like it was in Greenville, mixes snare and tom hits to create a frantic like beat. Corduroy in an encore like this comes across rejuvenated. Got Some keeps the energy alive, and is a pretty heavy performance from all. Ed praises the crowd as a handsome one and briefly discusses the Raleigh situation again. Wasted Reprise-Life Wasted are always welcomed, even if Ed slightly fumbles the lyrics, but not too bad. The energy is certainly present and forceful. Mike’s solo shines brightly in the mix, and was upfront at the show from where I was sitting. It’s up to Porch to send us off from this wonderful set of songs. The solo/jam on Porch, as always, is heaven. The guys are playing tight, sprightly, and the audio mix captures every sweet nuance of this musical bliss known as Porch. Listen to the improv Matt starts at around 5:49 through 6:40; double bass, build up patterns, and drum fills! Mike and Stone pick up on it to play some catchy riffs too. Matt even does a mini-drum solo at the very end as the song is essentially over, tom tom fills from Matt are spectacular; one of the best versions of Porch out there! It is a fine way to conclude an encore that creates its own ambiance, style, and mood to the highest caliber. Encore one for Columbia 2016 is among the very best I have heard on the hundreds of boots I’ve listened to over the years. What you have here are 51 epic minutes, which alone, are easily worth the measly price of the MP3.   

Encore two feels like walking back into time with such classic songs. I never fully understood the love for Chloe/Crown musically, aside from its emotional and historical importance. After hearing it live, I understand. The song hits a nerve in person like few songs can. I witnessed it greatly have an impact on what I believe was a father and daughter up front. The screens were locked on them, and to see their reactions was something. You could tell how much hearing it meant to them. It's good versions of the songs, and Ed does well with the lyrics and strong vocals. One line is missing, but that could be taken as letting the crowd sing. Matt's cymbal work is ear candy on COT, the best his cymbals have been mixed on a bootleg. Ed struggles a little vocally in SOLAT, but Jeff stood out nicely. Mike and Matt, without failure, always kill it on Black. Matt's high hat action during one of the verses was a nice touch, and his tom tom work is like a set of canons on the solo. "Time heals the wounds," tag is briefly added on. After a dependably good Alive, Ed and Matt sound full of energy on RITFW. Matt's fills and random hits add a lot to these live staples. Almost funny, Mike has some trouble in YL; seeming like he forgets where he is at in the song. Fitting for this gig, we are sent off with a smile. I do like how it makes the song sound mellow and more chill for a few seconds, putting emphasis on Stone instead.  

The overwhelming feeling I had after finishing this bootleg was as if I had just received a comforting hug from a loved one. As Ed says before he leaves the stage, “South Carolina, you have stolen our hearts!” In the end, it is not quite the powerhouse that is Hampton 2016, nor is it as energetic as Greenville 2016, but rather Columbia 2016 leaves one with a warm feeling, and more relaxed performance from the band. It's still killer rocknroll, but there was energy in the arena that night that was almost "loving," in a sense. The set flow and song choice reiterates that feeling as well. Another boot like this is Tulsa 2014; both are good shows that convey sincere, appreciative energies. It shall be noted, Columbia 2016 is not the tightest of boots in terms of performance. Considerably uncommon, it's guitar work from Mike and Ed, and a bit from Boom's keys, that distract during a few songs. Overall, the performance is still mostly solid (with noted exceptions), and Ed's vocals stood out to me as some of the best they have sounded in years. The first encore is absolutely stunning in every way. The setlist is pretty fuckin' nice too, but what really makes this bootleg is the vibe that's created when listened to in its entirety. Plus, the bootleg sounds magnificent with no static; merely clean, rich sounds.

Out of the four shows I saw this tour, Greenville, Hampton, Columbia, and Lexington, this one was my favorite; Hampton was an incredibly close second (maybe tied). Columbia 2016 may also be my #1 out of the ten PJ shows I’ve seen. It’s the one where I went to the hotel after and just had “that feeling” quite strongly. It was a perfect day too. The weather was not as hot as Hampton and was beautiful to walk around in. The wait in the merch line was totally worth it because the poster is all I could ever ask for in a print (see below). The arena was my favorite overall (again, the Hampton Coliseum is pretty much tied). My seats where the best of all shows I have attended as far as reserved goes. I was able to hang out with some really cool fans, Bill and Mauro. It was essentially my birthday show, and many songs on the setlist were favorites on my Wishlist. Speaking of that, the Wishlist party was fun for me and my girlfriend, and I got some cool pins and stickers. That’s just to name a few aspects of the day. Honestly, I do not think it will be topped due to being such a wonderful experience and show. I have a couple small issues with the performance on a few tunes in the main set, but that’s a miniscule drop in the bucket compared to the close to perfection, big picture, Columbia 2016 was for me.

Thank you for the beautiful art, Ken Taylor! One of the best PJ posters yet!



Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hampton 2016

Matt's high hat accents are bursts of energy early in Why Go. It's a hard hitting opener, with everyone sounding good. Ed's voice pops a bit once but nothing to distract from the raw energy. This is one of the best versions of MYM I've heard. The intro guitar work sounds interesting and tight tonight. Mike's effects work wonders during the song, most noticeably in the intro and outro. Corduroy effortlessly follows in good fashion. Ed's vocals are mixed just right for me in terms of levels. Mike goes absent for about 10 seconds around the time of the second verse. It’s less noticeable on speakers than headphones. The reworded bridge sounds great. Ed's soft, melodic vocals are gorgeous.  I love that melody in the bridge now. Matt's cymbals have a nice "ping" to them (probably his Ride cymbal). Being at the show, these opening songs just felt so right. The energy was heavy and where I was at in the balcony, Mike and Ed were very high in the mix compared to my other shows I've seen. It was simply awesome sonically. Mike's solo in Corduroy is just that as well. Having Brain of J and Faithfull at this point in the setlist and back to back, I was in Yield heaven. Ed's vocals hold mostly strong for both. This flow is interesting, energetic, and feels like it possesses a darker edge tonally. I had heard all these songs before, but was completely into the show; as if absorbed by the music. Mike and Stone's guitar tones for Faithfull are thick, crunchy, and upfront.

Ed greets the audience after Faithfull, and notes what a beautiful place Hampton is. I didn't get to see the city much while I was there, but my father and I were in awe of how gorgeous the Hampton Coliseum was on the outside. It's an awesome venue and has such an interesting feel. The inside was fairly dark, looked older/retro (it is), and had that legendary feel to it. It was historic in its own nature, and is incredibly intimate at around 9,000 capacity. The sound was crystal clear in the balcony. I could separate each instrument and feel their power. A feeling I'll always recall as utmost sincere.

The next stretch of songs works incredibly well together and creates superb flow. I Am Mine is introduced with a story similar to as it's told on Cville 13, for obvious reasons of importance. This version is quality, especially from Matt. The added snare drum accents from Matt give the song some added urgency and tension. Moving into Jeremy immediately after is mid-tempo flow at its very best. Doing so creates that hard, darker edge that is established through that kind of flow, Porto Alegre 2011 is another example. This was my father’s third show seeing PJ with me, and the first time he heard Jeremy. It was great to see him enjoy it. The crowd seemed into it as well. Stone is well up into the mix towards the end of the classic. Smooth set flow continues moving into Setting Forth-NFY-Even Flow. Interestingly, this was the only time NFY was played this tour, and it was a wonderful version. It's tight, and features a haunting Modern Girl tag. Ed brags on the crowd’s singing. Jeff's grooves are infections in Even Flow, Stone creates some interesting/scratchy effects, and Matt's solo is potent with a hint of tribal work. Although it's a live staple, this is an exciting rendition of Even Flow with a lot of passion. While a "hits heavy" section as Daughter follows, the show retains its edginess with two excellent tags. The first I don't recognize, "Gonna survive, gonna get through" but it's reminiscent of the often haunting 2000 tour tags that I have missed so dearly. Not to mention, we receive an It's Ok tag. I had never heard it before, and this was my 8th show. Some of the guitar work in it is a little off for just a few seconds, but never atrocious and they fix it quickly. After some of the songs that were to come later in the set, it was most needed for me, personally, to hear this tag. Ed again compliments the audience's singing and it being a good room for it.

Ed dedicates the next one for the teachers out there. Long Road is played mid set, and shocked me to the point it took me a few seconds to realize what it was! I recall Ed's vocals filling up the room, complete with depth and clarity, and a vast amount of passion. It's a slightly harder version of the tune, as Matt is mixed highly and his tom toms sound deep. It gives the song extra power, and worked even better live in person. He adds extra beats on the snare drum, making the bridge sound much more driving than normal. What a way for me to hear this gem for the first time live! Without pause, we head into Wishlist. To me that's an example of a well-crafted setlist transition, simply magic. Listen to Matt's soft snare roll at 3:30 to transition from one section to another in Wishlist; it's that subtle work that gives me chills. Mike's delicate riffs during the outro are elegant too. I might not be in the majority on this one, but Long Road-Wishlist-Sirens is just a perfect melodic trio. Ed improvs some of the lyrics, sounds into the song 100%, and his vocal melodies are wonderful in Sirens. His falsettos are not as harsh and he sings some parts differently. It results in a more powerful version to me. Matt adds some extra hits too coming out of the bridge that adds excitement to the live staple. This section of softer numbers here in the main set has been striking. While some will consider it nothing but "hits heavy,” the performance and flow are stellar and worthy of much praise.

Ed notes that the next one is a request, a good one. When Habit started, I rocked out hard. It was a first for me to hear live, and greatly appreciated. It holds up better in a live setting than on boot, although it's probably one of the slightly better versions I've heard from the last ten years of boots. The guitars are a smidgen off at times to me but still retain an appropriate punky, trashy kind of flavor. GTF calms us down some afterwards. Lukin-RVM concludes a wonderful, driving main set. Lukin was yet another first for me to receive live and was so fun to have it before RVM. Mike's spacey riffs on the jam in RVM are sweet! Matt adds a couple of the tribal like hits for good measure. I adored this main set and it holds up on bootleg nicely, well representing the show.

I decided last minute, after hearing Bruce had cancelled his NC show due to the law that was passed there, to get tickets for this show. I had a feeling PJ would do the same and Raleigh would be cancelled. Therefore, Hampton was my insurance policy just in case that occurred. I was sitting in the parking lot at the Hampton Coliseum having a few beers with my pops, and received the email notifying the cancellation of Raleigh. I was only disappointed for a moment, selfishly, then I became utmost appreciative that my favorite band had made the right decision. As a result, I was more pumped for this gig and felt the band had done the best thing. Listening to Ed address the decision live that night was clearly challenging for him because they did not want to cancel, and you could see the sincerity in his eyes and hear it in his voice. I Am A Patriot is one of my favorite covers, and to hear it that night in an effective spot (after his speech) in the set was a highlight. Much like his speech, Ed’s vocals sound passionate and rich. In the bridge of SBM, Ed has a moment where he messes up. "Clarence, you let me down man! He's jealous of that fuckin guitar!" Cock measuring Ed's uke, Clarence, against Mike's big white guitar is hilarious; as is hearing Ed quickly singing through SBM to figure out where he is at in the song. It was a priceless moment. They were having fun that night, lots of smiles, and seemed to enjoy the crowd (as Mike noted in a Rolling Stone interview recently).

When Ed sang, "It's going to be ok," during an evocative version of Come Back, I broke down emotionally. For personal reasons, it's the most challenging song in their catalogue to hear. It was a cathartic and emotional moment for me. Come Back is more beautiful and powerful live than I could have imagined. Mike's guitar was prominent in the mix and the notes hit me like a ton of bricks. Sad was a surprise and Ed nailed the lyrics. The static that has been plaguing the 2015 and 2016 boots is somewhat prominent on Sad here. It's unfortunate because it's a tight, active version. Ed's voice is strong, and Mike sounds awesome with tasty guitar effects. The only truly rough sounding play tonight is on LB due to Ed missing much of his guitar work and lyrics. He was trying to get a guy out of the crowd who was being a knucklehead. Live it didn't sound as rough, but on the bootleg it is. Maybe Stone was concerned at that moment too, as his playing is ropey, while Ed just stops. Maybe the worst version of LB I've heard, it never gets back on track energetically and Ed's vocals are fairly weak in the last bit.

Ed starts a sing along with the crowd after LB and has some fun with a guy in the crowd who looks like he might cause trouble. He didn't, but just had that look apparently to Ed (jokingly); it was another funny moment in the show. In My Tree is played as a request, and not originally on the setlist. The static/clipping in the audio mix is more distracting here; the only song where it's truly discerning. It's bathed all over Ed's vocals and is a bit harsh on the ears. However, it is a terrific rendition of the No Code number. Ed's vocals soar with power, Matt’s drumming is impeccable with extra fills and snare hits, and Jeff sounds amazing. I recall at the show thinking how good and groovy Jeff sounded on that one. Breath is given another play, two nights in a row! Both versions are good, the solo/jam is quite spirited on this one from all. Jeff, again, is just on fire on Breath. His bass lines had me humming them afterwards. Ed essentially gets the lyrics right, I think one word was missed and mumbled. Breath-DTE-Porch are a perfect trio, they flow right into one another energetically. Ed struggles a tad in DTE, but Mike (the riffs) and Stone (that solo) are on fire. Porch rocks hard with its extra solid solo. Jeff and Stone are killing it with infectious riffs galore. Matt adds some slick, yet subtle, double bass work to good measure. Aside from the version of LB, which really wasn't the band's fault, it's a lively first encore and probably one of the longer ones of this tour. The main set is stronger and tighter, but this encore does have an intriguing, almost randomness about it. Possessing some unique song choices and placements, along with robust performances, it has a nice feel to it. The play on LB does distract somewhat, but is understandable to protect the crowd. To illustrate one reason why the band means so much to me, it was emotionally overwhelming for me at the time hearing Come Back. The power of the band's music is dense, true, cathartic, and simply an absolute power live.

Ed thanks an audience member for his new favorite hat, which I believe said “Sanders/Warren 2016” on it. It is wonderful to hear Ed say, "Feel the Bern!" Small Town, played to the back of the stage, gently guides us into the final stretch. Ed's voice sounds relaxed and kind of reminded me of the 2005 vocals and boot sound. Mike gets on the microphone to address great advocators and organizations being represented in the crowd. Inside Job is dedicated to them. I'm not sure if the guitars are 100% accurate throughout, but being the first time played since 2013, it sounds really, really good. Stone and Mike are upfront in the mix, while Jeff's subtle bass notes are still deeply felt. Having Inside Job late in the set like this works wonders, and makes the song feel even more like the epic it is. Ed's vocals are strong, and seeing Mike with the double neck guitar live and playing such a passionate tune left me in awe; yet another emotional experience felt at this gig for me. Inside Job-Black combo just doesn't get any better. Two heartfelt songs back to back, played with the utmost care and showcasing Mike's abilities, are well beyond the price of the MP3 alone. Matt's drum fills and hard hitting dynamics are breathtaking. He is firing on all cylinders during this play on Black. Coming out of the solo, listen to Mike's spine tingling riffs, they’re poignant. "We belong together" tag is played as well.

Alive naturally follows, accompanied with more inspiring work from Matt. Build up drum patterns, fills, random open high hat hits, and being mixed very well, Matt's drumming is ear candy. I appreciate having his cymbals being mixed at a level that is appropriate and less bright than 2013/2014 where they became a tad distracting and too brash. I believe he was using different cymbals this tour, as I noticed at the gigs. They sound darker, smoother, and more subtle. RITFW features a tight, heavy, and thick sounding intro. This audio mix brings out some of the best in these songs that I’ve heard in a while! Stone's solo is simply sick. Double bass from Matt on the outro of RITFW had me head banging, plus he adds several hits on the high pitched tom/timbale that he used this tour that everyone seems to love. I don't think I've heard a version of the classic cover that rocks any harder than this and it gave me chills. To immediately follow that up with a somber Indifference is a jolt, but in an effective manner. Having been blessed to hear it twice in a row, with Greenville before it, I couldn't ask for a more fitting conclusion to this emotional show for me. If encore one lacked just a little bit due to a ropey LB, encore two more than made up for it. The performances in encore two, especially from Matt, are truly powerhouses.

What will probably be written as the black sheep of the incredible 2016 tour, Hampton is an underrated gem, in my opinion. Being overly hyped beforehand and played on the night of a largely controversial decision, I believe Hampton was almost destined, if you will, to be jaded in the minds of some before the show even began. However, the gig was utmost fulfilling for me all around. The boot reinforces that view for me and brought back every feeling I had in person. Aside from the issue in LB and some noticeable clipping in the audio on Sad and IMT, I had a fantastic experience listening to this bootleg. Encore one lost me a tad with those couple aforementioned problems, but the main set and encore two are fantastic showings from the group. Matt is playing the best I have heard him since probably 2000. His drum work is more tribal, energetic, and vigorous. The flow of the Hampton 2016 boot, notably in the main set and encore two, is quality. The method by which the set is crafted and the songs are arranged is almost consistently well thought out and brings out the best in the song selection. In a word, this bootleg is “dynamic,” in both its set flow and its powerful performances. For me, an emotional show which I’ll never forget.