Pearl Jam in Mexico: A collective trance of excitement

Julio 19 de 2003, Palacio de los Deportes

It was a hallucinogenic night. It seemed like time had stopped in some kind of collective trance and a special feeling had poured out the atmosphere. Excitement and expectation went all over the place as the classic “ola” carried this amazing vibe from one extreme to the other, shuddering minds and at the same time connecting thousands of people, who have waited for years this precise moment; it was an unusual union, it felt almost like a brotherhood.

After a really long wait, the lights of the Palacio de los Deportes finally fade away and the odyssey was about to begin so everything became obsolete. The captivating harmonies of Wash, the intensity of Do The Evolution and the idyllic Given To Fly were the first ones to electrify the audience. That electricity, reciprocally went back to the band onstage, so the energy there reached stratospherical levels from the very beginning.

Tipsy Eddie Vedder immediately showed his charm with his funny attempt to speak Spanish -which is always appreciated-.

– ¡Sábado por la noche en México!

He said after he took a good swig of his beverage, and then the Palacio de los Deportes exploded, keeping this boom into constant explosions of joy, surprise, nostalgia, and celebration. The night was still very young and the excitement was growing bigger every second. Cropduster, Corduroy and Immortality made the audience vibrate, each one bringing an instant ovation, a complete devotion.

At that time songs such as Riot Act or Save You felt obligated, however, it didn’t stop the nostalgia of a whole generation to overcome the place, with more great classic songs such as Wishlist and Even Flow.

I Am Mine of the already mentioned Riot Act, on the other hand, kept the battery on, followed by two legendaries, Daughter and the now of worship Hunger Strike –which I had the chance to listen some years later by Chris Cornell’s hypnotic voice.

Then, Better Man quivered in rivers of melancholy and after that, one of the most sing-along of the evening, the distinct riff of the so-called grunge, the cathartic Alive. The concert was about to reach the stars. Dark suddenly appears, nevertheless the constant sound of excitement fulfilled every space, meanwhile, the single sound of a harmonica and an acoustic guitar at Bob Dylan’s way was hardly heard.

– Hmmm… ¿cómo, cómo se dice request?

Asked Eddie.

– ¡Pedido!

We all answered.

Being a huge crazy Beatles fan, it was an indescribable emotion the one I felt as soon as I recognized the first chord, after having suspected it since the very first moment I heard that harmonica. What were the chances I was going to listen to a Beatles songs that day?, as you might be thinking, before the second chord was played I already singing my heart out to the lyrics of Hey, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away. There was one of the moments that marked my youth, I still believe that my crazy shouting actually can be heard on the record that came out some years later: “Pearl Jam: Live in Mexico”.

Eddie, Eddie, Eddie!, the entire Palacio sang in unison.

– Gracias, amigos. Eddie y Mike

The frontman responded.

From that on, the celebration went on with more unexpected turnings, little details that made it perfect. Jeremy which was only played that the last concert breathed out such a great intensity and then carrying on with nostalgia Elderly Woman moved emotions. All of the sudden, in evident confidence and with his cellphone in hand, Vedder ask us a favor:

– A la cuenta de tres vamos a decir: Hola Johnny. Uno, dos, tres…

– ¡Hola, Johnny!

The entire place shouted, so Johnny Ramone, the now absent lord of happy punk, answered back:

– ¡Buenos días!

What better than a punk Ramones song to spice even more the special occasion?

– Ésta canción se llama Yo Creo En Los Milagros.

Said Eddie still with the cellphone in his hand.

The night grew old, but the energy never went down, all the screaming suddenly mixed with several different colored lights, which mixed with the music, it became a nebulous night and stood out all kind of emotions. Mike started to play the first chords of Black,, there was a huge yarn while Eddie forgot the lyrics, same that the audience sang for him.

Maybe we all were in some kind similar state of consciousness which connected us to hear that beautiful mix between sound and silence, the hand clapping was along with the silences and the whole place was rhythmical enlightened by thousands of cellphones lights that reminded of sparkling stars, turning us into another part of the music sheet.

After an improvisation among the band members, another break was about to come, “Las mañanitititas” (sic) followed by Happy Birthday for Stone, the birthday boy. A trio of Spanish guitar players come on stage meanwhile the tour and the band members stayed in line to give the surprised Gossard a fraternal hug, with the whole palace singing at him.

Suddenly we were not spectators anymore, we were part of the show. On stage there was a fun birthday party, on seats everybody was having fun too, so the trio went on for a few minutes with a popurri, which included some Mexican and Cuban folklore.

Guantanamera, eh eh eh Guantanamera, sings Eddie at the time he tries to imitate the melody with his guitar and after that while the trio was playing “La bamba” the tour crew started to leave the stage, meanwhile Jeff, Matt and Eddie turned the song into the punk style.

After the party, the stage appeared looking to the other side of the Palacio de los Deportes, giving a pretty great view to the back stands, and played to them Last Kiss, another cover song. The end of an exhaustively emotive night was in sight, Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World was played with the members of the band wearing Luchadores masks, and the opening band Sleater-Kinney could not resist joining Pearl Jam on stage. Then I was surprised again, they played Leaving Here, which put everybody to dance.

There was another big classic for the outcome, Yellow Ledbetter which put in the tears the guy who was standing next to me, and it was the first time I saw somebody cry in a concert. By coincidence the second time I saw somebody in tears in a concert, was two years later when Pearl Jam returned on December 9th, 2005. The song was again Yellow Ledbetter, but the guy crying I can’t tell if was the same.

– ¡Gracias, gracias, gracias, gracias, gracias!, Cuídense unos a otros y ustedes mismos.

Was the last thing Eddie said before leaving the stage, and for me, it was only a see you soon. During those three hours the whole message of union was received until the last seat, music connected all those great emotions that were almost impossible not to feel that night. Remembering this great memory still makes me smile and I’m sure I will remember it all my life. All the ingredients were in exact portion and that was the effect of Pearl Jam.


  1. 1- Wash
  2. 2- Do the Evolution
  3. 3- Save You
  4. 4- Given to Fly
  5. 5- Cropduster
  6. 6- Corduroy
  7. 7- Immortality
  8. 8- Wishlist
  9. 9- Even Flow
  10. 10- I Am Mine
  11. 11- Thumbing My Way
  12. 12- Daughter
  13. 13- MFC
  14. 14- Jeremy
  15. 15- Hunger Strike
  16. 16- Better Man
  17. 17- Alive

  • 18- You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
  • 19- Present Tense
  • 20- Elderly Woman Behind the
  • 21- Counter in a Small Town
  • 22- I believe in miracles
  • 23- Black
  • 24- Rearview Mirror

  • 25- “Las mañanitas”
  • 26- Happy Birthday
  • 27- Guantanamera
  • 28- La Bamba
  • 29- Mankind
  • 30- Last Kiss
  • 31- Leaving Here
  • 32- Rocking in the Free World
  • 33- Yellow Ledbetter

Alejandra Peña Rios

Entusiasta del rock. Ha contribuido con artículos para Revista Marvin, Quarter Rock Press, Pólvora y Travelicious, entre otros.

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