I love the stories Eddie Vedder tells from the stage. One day, on Sirius’ Pearl Jam Radio, he went on about cracks in Chinese vases and how the ancient Chinese used to fix those cracks with gold. And people get broken also, he said. And when they get fixed, their scars can be golden, too.
I like that.
After my girlfriend, Christine, and I went through a little crucible to see the band here in Seattle, Eddie told a story, from the stage, of a 7-year-old girl who insisted that her dad take her out on a boat as he’d promised, on an early Sunday morning on Maui, 12 years ago.
Even though he was exhausted and a storm was coming up, Dad relented, and soon, the two come across three overturned kayakers in the channel between Maui and Lanai, just as the storm was really coming on.
One of those kayakers was Eddie Vedder, and he feels pretty lucky and grateful to that insistent 7-year-old — who, by the way, is now 19 and happens to be visiting our Emerald City, all the way from her emerald island.
Eddie brought her out on stage to a roar from the crowd.
Baby, it’s cold outside
How Christine and I managed to get into the packed Key Arena on Dec. 6 to experience the Pearl Jam show was kind of an adventure itself.
I’ve always had great luck showing up a few hours before a show and buying quality seats from scalpers. I’ve seen Bob Dylan, Garth Brooks, Seal (second row) and Bruce Springsteen, among others. Life’s been good on those sidewalks outside KeyArena. Pearl Jam in Seattle would be different.
The afternoon of the show, I scoped out the scalpers and found a guy who had couple of decent seats and wanted an outrageous price.
I waited a bit, came back about an hour before show time and managed to talk him down. It was still more than the cash I had, so he took a check for the difference. We walked over to a liquor store (where they seemed to know him), and I wrote it out.
Mugged but content, I went back up the hill to collect Chris. I threw on a light shirt and leather jacket, figuring I’d be inside most of the night. But it was cold outside.
Shortly after, we’re back down the hill, heading into the show. We get stopped at the entrance. The tickets come up “invalid” on the bar-code scanner. We try a second door, but we’re directed to the Ticketmaster window outside, which has a line around the block, filled up (as it turns out) mostly with friends of the band, waiting for comp tickets. It’s a long line, but we have no choice.
We make a circle around the outside of the arena, looking for the guy who sold the tickets. We go to the liquor store — no luck. We’re sure I’ve been ripped off. Chris doesn’t blink, though. And I don’t want to give up till I know for sure that these are bad tickets.
We wait and wait and wait in the line in the cold, windy evening. We hear the muffled, indoor sounds of Mudhoney, the opening band, as it comes on, plays a set and leaves. I’m shivering almost uncontrollably; Chris, at least, has a couple of layers of clothing on.
Finally, we get to the window. The Ticketmaster guy says, “Yeah, these are bogus.” He’s got a special pen that leaves marks on fake tickets, and ours have marks. He apologizes.
Then he says, “I can sell you two tickets on the fourth row for $68.50 each. Do you want to do that?”
Yes, we do want to do that.
A few minutes later, we’re inside, and a couple of minutes after that, Pearl Jam is on.
I literally cannot stop shaking, though — for like 20 minutes or more, I shiver. Three or four songs into the concert, I feel OK enough to head for the seats. Then I get warm right away — and I’m happy.
Everyone in the arena stands the entire time the band plays — even those in the tip-top, nosebleed seats. Even the 6-foot, 5-inch guy right in front of me in row three — he never sits down.
The audience sings and sways. It’s community; it’s church. It reminds me that I love Seattle. It heals the hypothermia, and it mends the money wound. My church-going gal — who only started in with rock concerts when she took up with me — she loves it, too.
All’s well, that ends well
When I get home, I call my bank and cancel the check. Then I realize that I have a card with a phone number for the guy who sold me the tickets.
About 1 a.m., I give him a call, and I tell him about the tickets. He apologizes and says he’ll give me the money back the next day.
Sure enough, he shows and returns my cash and my check. He tells me he’s looking to get ahold of the guy who sold him the tickets. I give him two of the hundred-dollar bills that he brings back to me and tell him the story of the fourth-row seats. We go our ways, and he is a totally decent guy.
The moral of this story? Christine and I ended up with fourth-row seats to an impossibly sold-out Pearl Jam concert. We got them for a fine price — even including my bank’s canceled-check fee and my generosity.
The whole adventure leaves us with big smiles and stronger faith…in something. And I bet that’s the way Eddie Vedder would see it if he were telling this story.
WILLIAM FRICK is lives at the top of Queen Anne hill. To comment on the column, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.