Prague was my 8th show, but my first one standing with Ten Club tickets and Wristband. Having followed the band since the early 90s, bought numerous bootlegs, watched the set lists as they've come in and read the fan reviews, etc etc, finally I was going to get the chance to be down in the action that my previous seated tickets had only allowed me to view from afar...in most cases way far up in the nosebleeds. The magical Wuhlheide show, a couple of years back, was as close as I'd been to the stage, seated Mike's side, which I'd persuaded my 'tour life partner' (as she has now decided to be called) to join me for under the pretence of a mini-break in Berlin. We had such a great time at both the gig and the city that convincing her to come with me to Prague was easier than I thought (two nights in Manchester and another trip later to Copenhagen was a little trickier).
Prague itself is stunning and after a spot of sightseeing and eating some strange cheeses we wandered over to the pre-gig meet-up. Loads of fans had turned up for it and, due to the lack of aircon in the downstairs area, most folk where drinking it up out front as the rain came down and the trams whizzed past. I spotted a few people from here, but all were so busy chatting that I didn't get around to saying hello to anybody...what can I say, I'm a shy Englishman. Great night all the same, me and the wife knocked back a fair few beers and enjoyed the empty Charles Bridge on the stagger back to our hotel in the Old Town.
The day of the show I wasn't really sure how it was all going to go down so we headed over to the o2 for around 3pm and queued up for the Tickets and Wristbands with a fair few others. Americans in the queue were saying it lacked the excitement of a US ticket queue since you're not about to find out where you're sitting, so why was I so excited? I could see another queue had already started at the Ten Club entrance which I presumed were partners/friends saving places already. Tickets and bands secured we naffed off to get some cigs and a beer. When we made it back, the entrance queue had grown a little and some people had mysterious numbers on their hands...not sure how they got those, but we joined the line and waited for the doors to open.
6.15pm we were unleashed on the o2 in a calm and orderly fashion and amazingly we ended up third 'row' on Mike's side. Pretty much prefect and met a nice group in front of us (Hey Adam and Jodie). Saw the merch T-shirt and a phone pic of the poster...eurgh. The Ten Club had its own sectioned off area and there seemed to be plenty of space for some decent rocking without some of the drama I'd seen from high above in the past. As well as our silver wristbands we spotted that our area was being shared with some locals wearing yellow bands, which was nice since we were in their city after all.
X kicked serious arse, fellow Jammer Adam's enthusiasm for them was infectious and didn't go unnoticed by Billy Zoom who kept beaming that smile our way. We spotted Mike at the side taking pictures and then Eddie was out on stage for Devil Doll. Things were off to an amazing start.
So you've seen the setlist, great stuff, but here are a few memories of moments that happened - probably all out of order, but you know how that can be, right? Mike came across the stage holding up his kid, which was pretty sweet. Sometimes opened and was very well received, especially by me as I'd not heard it since '96. Was great to see Jeff playing his upright bass. I figured that they were going to ease us into this show, but suddenly Animal kicked and I was jumping into the air with the rest of the crowd - this was something I'd wanted to do since the first time I heard that song, being launched up by Matt's kick drum thump was as amazing as I'd hoped it would be. Mike was darting around in front of us pointing out plectrum targets, pointing to the heavens, bouncing along with us and bowing graciously backwards after solos. The guy is a fucking god! At one point he sent a shower of picks out and everybody in front of me went to the ground hunting, leaving me stood facing him...was a really funny moment, like getting a private solo or something...you don't really think of the thousands of people behind you during moments like that I guess. Must be awesome being on the rail all night. Setting Forth was a real surprise and sounded fantastic. I'd heard Push Me Pull Me during soundcheck and onstage at Wuhlheide, but still, it's bloody brilliant live and you could tell Ed was really into it. You could also tell right from the start how impressed he was with the energy the crowd was giving off. Garden blew me away, had wanted to hear it this tour and it was a superb version, really made me and the wife's night. Ed did the shiny spotlight off his guitar thing and managed to take us out even down the front. During the first encore break the seated fans were stomping their feet, sounded amazing being in the middle of all that noise. Mike accompanied Ed on Just Breathe, not sure if he messed it up or was taking a moment - but he looked very thoughtful at the end of the song. Crazy Mary (I think) Ed built up Mike as an intro to his solo, but goofed it as it turned out to be Boom's solo...funny stuff. The group in front of me had kept their cups from the water that security passed out and waved them bringing Eddie over with his wine bottle. He dished out a generous amount to the front row, too generous as when he held it up to the light there appeared to be little left, so he swigged the rest and handed the bottle to the girl we'd met earlier, Jodie. Bet you won't forget that in a hurry! Mike started playing Angie and Ed joined him singing a couple of lines, Mike then stopped and Ed laughed as if wanting to continue through the whole song. Really up for it at this point. Do The Evolution, Ed got the crowd to repeat the Dooo Do Do Do part and watching him conduct the band and the crowd was impressive. These guys are so damn tight. We all carried the chant on during the second encore break and Ed was very, very complimentary about the crowd saying it was the best this tour. I know he always says shit like that, but from where I was stood I couldn't argue. Stone held a book open for him to read some Czech from while he drank out of a very large ornate stein. The improv during the Save It For Later tag was cool, looking forward to the boot so I can hear it again. Mike's solo during Black...stunning. Alive had Ed running all over the place and he did a mock stage dive, if he'd gone into the crowd it wouldn't have surprised me...he looked insanely happy. He managed to kick one of Mike's leads out, but they recovered so well I doubt most even noticed. Baba O'Riley was just a total party and Mike proper nailed it. By this point it was getting very late so as Yellow Ledbetter kicked in a brief thought about the last metro train flashed through my mind, but was soon pushed aside by a pure Mike solo.
So those were my memories of my first show on the floor, it's going to be hard going back up to the nosebleeds...but at least we have Copenhagen before that and who knows, maybe I'll get lucky again next tour.
Some pics here, thank you Pearl Jam!!!http://www.flickr.com/photos/spagmaster ... 439877500/