I n t r o d u c t i o n
It was supposed to be a fairly routine evening.
April 1, 2003. The first night of Pearl Jam 's American tour their first in almost
three years. The band had sold out Denver's Pepsi Center, almost 12,000 tickets.
Pearl Jam broke huge with the release of their debut album, the multi-platinum
Ten, released in 1991. Over the next several years the band's stature continued to
increase, at one point selling 900,000 copies of their 1993 album Vs. during one
week. During the band's 1994 American tour, Pearl Jam started a battle with
concert giant Ticketmaster over fees attached to tickets sales, which proved to be
an expensive and time-consuming distraction from making music. During the rest
of the 1990s, the band floundered, selling fewer and fewer albums and concert
tickets. However, by 2000 the band had built its reputation on the road and started
to experience a slow resurgence in interest and stature. That year the band released
its entire world tour on CD (72 different CDs).
Then it was time for a break. The band didn't release their next CD, Riot Act,
until October of 2002. Pearl Jam started their tour supporting Riot Act with 15
dates in Australia and Japan in early 2003 before embarking on a 60-date tour of
There was a sense of excitement among the band and fans for this first perfor-
mance (the first in Denver in more than five years). Several members of Pearl Jam
were spotted in the wings during the opening set by Sleater-Kinney (the Olympia,
Washington, band playing with Pearl Jam for the first time that evening).
Pearl Jam took the stage at around 8:45 pm and played a ninety-minute set. To
keep things interesting for them, Pearl Jam performs unique song sequences at
each stop on their tours light on their known hits and heavy on improvisation
and extended jams. After closing with a Sleater-Kinney song (performed along-
side the opening band), Pearl Jam came back for the first of two encores. Three
songs into the first encore, Pearl Jam performed a song from Riot Act called