Warm Up. So here goes. The concert last night at Marcus Amphitheatre in Milwaukee for Summerfest was probably one of the best double features of two top notch bands/performers one can see. Pearl Jam is one of my favorite, if not favorite band, of all time. And Petty is just a classic performer, he has so many hits and has been around for so long, it is just one performer that one should see. The concert pictures below were taken with the very fine camera contained in my cell phone. Don’t bitch about the quality. Now on to last nights show…
There’s the ticket. Row Y, which surprisingly isn’t the 25th row. Closer to the 20th actually. Section one was stage left. I would have liked more towards the center, but these are still pretty damn good seats. Here’s the seating chart so you can be the judge.
The show was billed as two headliners, but that obviously wasn’t the case. After watching both performances, one could easily see that it was Petty’s setup. They made use of the video screens and much better use of the lights.
Pearl Jam opened. Set list was very good but I thought missed at least one significant staple and that was Betterman (looked and it was played the night before). Based on what I heard, there was very little overlap with the previous night’s set list. I had also heard the sound quality for Thursdays show was horrible (this was probably due to the power outage and not being able to do a proper sound check). I thought the sound was in the good to very good range for Pearl Jam’s portion of the show. Some of their faster/louder songs could have used a touch more volume to the vocals, but on a whole, it was well done (I’ve heard much worse). I would have really like to have heard 25 Minutes to Go (Johnny Cash cover that they’ve done in the past) and Crazy Mary (also played the previous night), but they did a very good mix of old, new, popular and some of the lesser know material. I liked the new arrangement of Insignificance that they did and can’t wait to here it again to really compare it to their normal arrangement. That song is favorite of mine. My only complaint about the Pearl Jam portion of the show… their set was too short. They played about 90 minutes. If the show had started at 730 as advertised, it would have been a two hour set instead of 90 minutes. That is the only thing that pissed me off.
Pearl Jam has just taken the stage.
Another shot of Pearl Jam on stage.
Here’s a shot of the crowd. 23 thousand strong!
One more shot of Pearl Jam. A bit more happening with the lights. Also the guy we
believe is Kyle Orton (more details later) is visible in this shot. He is the large
guy, several rows in front of us in the brown shirt with the square logo on
the back (a Tom Petty tour shirt).
Tom Petty. Petty’s portion (that’s Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for those who don’t know) was a very good show. Sound was about as good as one can get at a concert. It was dead on. Not something I would go see, but I was glad that I did. The guy has been churning out hits forever and he played them all. I didn’t recognize a cover they did and their new song, but everything else he played was a classic. He’s been doing this forever and he knows how to do it. I did get tired of him saying “Thank you” to the crowd after every song and I have to wonder how he can sing so well when his voice is just so awful. The set list contained everything I thought it would ,and from the sound of it, was nearly identical to the previous nights show. Eddie Vedder joined them on stage for a couple songs, including the closer, American Girl. Vedder did a great job on both songs he helped with.
Petty on the stage. More lights. Video screens, etc.
Vedder singing with Petty and the Heartbreakers. On the video screen.
All in all, one hell of show. As I mentioned before, my only complaint was Pearl Jam didn’t play long enough. It would have been nice if they had made use of the video screen, but my seats were close enough that I didn’t care too much that they didn’t.
Random Thoughts. Now for some miscellaneous notes about the concert and the rest of the day…
Day started off great. Woke up after 3 hours of sleep and went skiing with John, Sandy, Ronee and Jonas. Perfect weather, perfect company, lots of skiing. Only thing wrong with the skiing portion of the day was I had to call it about 1230 so I could head to home to get my back fixed and then head to the concert. I could have spent the whole day on the lake easy. Would have like to as well.
Why the 3 hours of sleep? After practice the night before, the older members of the ski team stuck around, had some beers, went to the Memorial Union, had some more beers, went to BW3s and ate. Good times were had by all. I found out the union carries Stella Artois (which is a beer I love- ask me about my first experience with it, it is a good story).
Bell girls. There most be something about my boat, the Bell girls, and nearly losing some water skiing equipment. I had the issue with my wet suit falling off the boat into the lake. Well Sandy left her barefoot suit and shorts on my swim platform and I was on the ramp to the interstate when she called. “My suit and shorts are still on your swim platform, I hope.” I pulled over once on the interstate, checked, and luckily, they still were on the swim platform, barely.
Beer Man. To the guy that walked buy me carrying many beers several times… When I jokingly said “it’ll cost you one beer to get by,” thank you for the beer. It hit the spot.
Orton? The group of people seated directly around me pretty much came to the consensus that Kyle Orton (the Chicago Bears quarterback, formerly of Purdue and thorn in the side of the Badgers) was sitting five rows in front of us in Petty tour t-shirt. He really got into Pearl Jam, spilling $5 beers all over himself. I saw him tip one beer up to drink it and the cup wasn’t even on his mouth. Needless to say, he missed. He pretty much passed out during the change from PJ to Petty. And I mean passed out. He was dead to the world. When Petty did take the stage, he started to move after about a song or so and started pouring more beers down his shirt again. In the picture to the right, we believe the guy just to the left and several rows in front of the guy in white shirt on the right side of the picture is Kyle. Tough to tell with this photo, but he looked like he was passed out.
Ten Clubers. To the couple sitting to my left, I doubt you’ll ever read this, but I still think I recognized the girl from somewhere. The face, the body, the voice, all seemed way too familiar. After talking, it is doubtful we’ve ever met because they are from ‘burb down by Chicago, hasn’t spent much time in Madison other than a visit or two and didn’t go to UW-Whitewater, but they had also been to the Alpine Valley shows in 97, 01 and 03 just like me. And like me, the joined the fan club in 97 after getting lawn seats to the show.
3rd Best Pizza. Pre-concert, we stopped at a bar near by buddy Al’s house called Rookies something or other. As I walked in, I heard the bartender mention “we have the 3rd best pizza in Milwaukee”. I had it. I’m pretty sure I could walk around downtown Milwaukee and find 3 better pizza’s easy. Nothing to write home about. Basic bar pizza in my opinion. Not great, not bad, just bar pizza. It did have a couple really spicy spots. I know my pizza is better than it, but it isn’t in Milwaukee.
Al. For my buddy Al, I’m still waiting for your comments about this show and how it compared to Thursday’s.
dr_r0ck. For Al’s buddy dr_r0ck that feels that the Marcus is horrible venue for concerts… basically a large venue for concerts that is acoustically good doesn’t exist. Once you get past a couple thousand seats in a legitimate theatre (where plays, musicals, opera and orchestra are performed) the acoustics go to crap. They don’t build arenas with the acoustics in mind, unless they are thinking about how they can make the crowd noise louder for basketball or hockey. The amphitheatre design used at the Marcus (23,000 fans) and at Alpine (36,000 fans) is actually one of the better setups for acoustics for a large crowd. Much better than a basketball arena for football stadium. Basically it comes down to the sound engineer that travels with the tour to figure out how to make the sound actually sound good in each venue. Some of these guys are good and some are not. From my experience, most are not. The sound engineer mixes the concert and sets the volume levels. He can make (Green Day, Pearl Jam, Beastie Boys, Elton John, Billy Joel & DMB) or break (Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill) a concert. Don’t blame the venue, blame the sound engineer. You can read more of an old rant about bad concert mixes here.
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