I’ve seen Pearl Jam 12 times between 2003 and 2013:

  1. Houston, 2003
  2. Camden, 2003
  3. Camden, 2003
  4. Reading, 2004
  5. Albany, 2006
  6. Camden, 2006
  7. Camden, 2008
  8. Philadelphia, 2009
  9. Philadelphia, 2009
  10. Hartford, 2010
  11. NYC, 2010
  12. Brooklyn, 2013

Pearl Jam are known for their varying setlists, but the shows I saw between 2009 and 2010 had the most surprises. I saw the last two shows they played at the Philadelphia Spectrum (part of their four-night stand to close out the legendary venue). The final night was Halloween and for one of the encores, they came out dressed as Devo and played “Whip It.” That was also the first time I saw them play “Crown of Thorns.” The Halloween show was the longest I’ve ever seen. Although I’ve seen Bruce Springsteen play some 165-minute shows in New Jersey, Pearl Jam played 200 minutes that final night at the Spectrum and nearly three hours the last time I saw them (Barclays Center in Brooklyn, October 2013, 2nd night).

Another major surprise was when I saw them play “Ain’t Talkin Bout Love” in Hartford back in May 2010. To me that was as much of a surprise as “Whip It.” Like any band that has an extensive catalog, I definitely prefer some songs over others. Along with Metallica, they are probably my favorite live band. Both became highly unpredictable with their set lists in the 2000s, which is what I always wanted as a fan who will go to see my favorite bands multiple times.

This is what I would like to hear (and see) them play (by album) if I could choose the set list:


Ten (1991):

  • Release (great opener and sounds better live)
  • Oceans (great opener and sounds better live)
  • Black (prefer studio version but probably my favorite PJ song)


Singles Soundtrack (1992)

  • Breath (was lucky enough to see them play this a couple times & sounds great live)


Vs. (1993):

  • Glorified G (just as good live as on CD)
  • Dissident (just as good live as on CD)
  • Blood (one of their most intense songs, just as good live as on CD)


Vitalogy (1994):

  • Last Exit (great way to open a great CD and I prefer studio version)
  • Spin the Black Circle (love the intense vocals and prefer studio version)
  • Tremor Christ (just as good live as on CD)
  • Immortality (knowing what this song is about makes me appreciate it more)


Merkinball (1995)

  • I Got ID (sounds much better live & one of my favorite PJ songs)


No Code (1996)

  • Habit (probably prefer studio version, but the crushing guitars sound just as good live)


Yield (1998)

  • Brain of J (I love when they start off a CD with an explosive song and it’s just as good live as on CD)


Binaural (2000)

  • Light Years (my favorite song on this album….no close 2nd)


Riot Act (2002)

  • Thumbing My Way (one of their best slow songs, which they rarely play live)
  • Cropduster (love the lyrics & sounds just as good live as on CD)


Lost Dogs (2004)

  • Undone (love this song & it reminds me of my favorite road trip ever: Miami to Key West)
  • Wash (great opener & much better live than on CD)


Pearl Jam (2006)

  • Life Wasted (great song to start a record with, just as good live as on CD)
  • Army Reserve (love the lyrics & just as good live as on CD)


Backspacer (2009)

  • Gonna See My Friend (great opening song)
  • Amongst the Waves (love the lyrics)
  • Johnny Guitar (the lyrics are different from most of their other songs, but I like them)
  • The End (one of their best slow songs)


Lightning Bolt (2013)

  • Getaway (their last three CDs have perfect opening songs)
  • My Father’s Son (not a second is wasted in this autobiographical masterpiece)
  • Sirens (reminds me of “Black” & almost as good)


Non-studio Songs They’ve Played at Least Once Live

That’s a total of 35 songs (28 originals, 7 covers). I’ve seen them play 26 of those songs live. “Dock of the Bay” was only played once, but I think they will play the rest of the songs in my list again as long as they continue to play live.