Pearl Jam’s 10 most notable Seattle concerts

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Pearl Jam at the Gorge in 2005. Photo by Steven Friederich

Pearl Jam at the Gorge in 2005. Photo by Steven Friederich

It’s been a while since Seattle has seen the guys in Pearl Jam onstage. In fact, when the band hits the stage tonight around 8:30 it will end the longest period of time between hometown shows for Pearl Jam.

RELATED: Parting Ways: Has Pearl Jam forgotten about Seattle?

So exactly how long has it been since Pearl Jam has played a concert in Seattle? It’s been 1,536 days . Or, more than four years and two months if you don’t want to be that specific. But hey, who’s counting?

I’ve written about the band’s absence from Seattle in the past so I won’t go into detail about that here. Instead, I’d like to celebrate the return of Pearl Jam to Seattle by taking a look at some of the band’s past concerts in greater Seattle area (which for these purposes includes the Gorge). So before you head over to KeyArena tonight to see Pearl Jam’s 51st Seattle concert in 22 years, take a trip down memory lane with 10 of the band’s most notable Seattle concerts.

KeyArena Nov. 6, 2000

Why it’s notable: If you watched Cameron Crowe’s “Pearl Jam 20” film then you know about the tragedy at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark. To recap just in case you don’t know about that significant moment in Pearl Jam history, nine people were trampled to death at the Roskilde fest during Pearl Jam’s set when the crowd rushed to the stage, which reportedly happened during “Alive.” This show marked the end of the North American leg of the band’s 2000  tour and was the first time the band performed “Alive” since the tragedy in Denmark. It’s not the best version of “Alive” but it was an emotional moment for anyone who knew the story behind the performance. Also, six songs from this show were used for the band’s live DVD “Touring Band 2000.”

Benaroya Hall Oct. 22, 2003

Why it’s notable: Put Seattle’s biggest band in the city’s best-sounding room and a spectacular show happens. The show was Pearl Jam’s first full “unplugged” concert since taping MTV’s “Unplugged” in the 90s. Of course it wasn’t an all acoustic affair since most of the instruments were plugged in, but it’s the thought that counts. The setlist put the spotlight on several songs off the band’s double-album “Lost Dogs,” which is a record of b-sides and unreleased material so there was quite a bit of fan service happening with rarities getting setlist placements. It also marked the debut of “Man of the Hour,” which was written for Tim Burton’s “Big Fish.” A few years later the concert, which was a benefit for Youth Cares, was released as a live album and the vinyl version of that record, which was limited to a run of 2,000, is a highly coveted Pearl Jam collectible (it fetches up to $1,000 on eBay!).

RELATED: From the vault: Pearl Jam at Benaroya Hall | Pearl Jam in top form at the Gorge

Off Ramp Cafe Oct. 22, 1990

Why it’s notable:
 This is Pearl Jam’s first public performance so it’s notable for that reason alone. At the time the band was known as Mookie Blaylock. Take a listen to the early versions of the band’s classic cuts off “Ten.”

The Gorge Sept. 1, 2005, July 22 & 23, 2006

Why they’re notable: Yes, this is three shows instead of one but it’s tough to separate these shows from one another because all three were equally excellent. The first show featured an actual acoustic set (as opposed to Benaroya’s “unplugged ” offering) and the other two shows were two of Pearl Jam’s best local concerts in more than a decade. The package of all three was released as a boxed set and it’s well worth checking out if you don’t have any live Pearl Jam in your collection.

RELATED: Pearl Jam delivers sweltering sets at the Gorge |

Memorial Stadium July 21 & 22 1998

Why they are notable: Another grouping of shows, these concerts are notable not just for the music but also for the band’s action. Pearl Jam has always given back to Seattle and these two shows from the “Yield” tour were the biggest local fundraisers of the band’s career, raising approximately $500,000 for Seattle Public Schools, the Chicken Soup Brigade and the National Association for American Indian Children and Elders.

The Gorge, Sept. 5, 1993

Why it’s notable: Pearl Jam’s first show at the Gorge didn’t go off as well as their 05-06 shows. According to the Seattle Times, roughly 100 people were injured after the crowd tore down a metal fence and fell down a 25-foot drop when advancing towards the stage. The band didn’t return to the Gorge for 12 years.

Mural Amphitheatre Aug. 23, 1991

Why it’s notable:  Another show early in the band’s career that foreshadowed the band’s meteoric rise, this concert happened right when everything was about to happen.  Plus, it was free.

The Showbox Dec. 5 & 6, 2002

Why they’re notable: Do I need to explain this one? It’s Pearl Jam at the Showbox. Check out the live DVD of the show, simply titled “Live at the Showbox” to see how absolutely great these shows were.

KeyArena Dec. 9, 2002

Why it’s notable: This was the second of two local shows for the “Riot Act” tour. The first night wasn’t so great. It’s not that the band delivered a bad show, it’s more that the setlist was pretty, well, uninspired. Apparently the band realized this and delivered an excellent show the next night with a setlist that started with “Release” and ended with a cover of The Sonics’ “Don’t Believe in Christmas.”

RELATED: A tale of two shows: Pearl Jam at KeyArena

Drop in the Park Sept. 20, 1992

Why it’s notable: This free concert at Magnuson Park was a get out the vote show and it featured Cypress Hill and Shawn Smith as openers. It’s one of the best shows from early in the band’s career and was released on vinyl only as part of the band’s reissue of “Ten” a few years ago.

Travis Hay

About Travis Hay

Travis Hay is a professional music journalist who has spent the past 14 years documenting and enjoying Seattle's diverse music scene. In 2009 he established Guerrilla Candy and is currently the site's editor and publisher. He has written for various media outlets including MSN Music, the Seattle-Post Intelligencer, Seattle Weekly, and others and was the founder and editor of defunct music site Ear Candy.