Pearl Jam”The waiting drove me mad … You’re finally here and I’m a mess,” sang Pearl Jam’s lead singer, Eddie Vedder. As I stood in my seat at Madison Square Garden, I realized that those lyrics to “Corduroy” described my emotions perfectly. I had waited five long years to see my favorite band play live.Once Pearl Jam’s long battle with Ticketmaster began, I feared that I would never see them live, but Pearl Jam pulled through. In early 1998, the band announced they would be touring to support their latest album, “Yield,” and would give in and play some Ticketmaster venues (like Madison Square Garden) so they could reach more fans. Like me!The opening act, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, was, at best, mediocre. Ben Harper didn’t foreshadow the stupendous show that was to come. Pearl Jam came on and brought with them a tremendous amount of energy.
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Guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard bounced around the stage with the happiness of people who truly love their jobs. Along with bassist Jeff Ament and the regular “crew,” former Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron joined the tour.It was apparent that Pearl Jam had put all their Ticketmaster troubles behind them. Even with their plummeting record sales, Pearl Jam has proved that they are true masters of their game. They may not have won their battle with Ticketmaster, but they showed that they are pragmatists who know when the fight is over. To me, they didn’t lose. They came out of this ordeal showing that music was the reason they stayed together.The self-proclaimed “moody” Eddie Vedder was in rare form that night. He joked with the audience as if we were his old friends. Before the encores, several uniformed men came out carrying file boxes and told us this was the Ken Starr report! Pearl Jam played a good mix of new and old. Grunge rock anthems like “Alive,” “Evenflow” and “Jeremy” brought down the house. Vedder even stopped at certain points to let the crowd shout the lyrics we all knew so well. New songs (“Do The Evolution” and “Wishlist”) were just as moving. I was pleasantly surprised that they played some lesser known tunes, including my personal favorite, “Elderly Woman.”Pearl Jam showed that they had evolved from angst-ridden grunge rockers to veteran musicians who know their music would carry into the next millenniumVedder said, “You ain’t nothing ’til you play Madison Square Garden,” and I knew I had never heard a concert as good as this one until they did..