During our time in the Middle East, we agreed to venture northwest to Prague and catch part of Pearl Jam’s Europe 2012 Tour. We hadn’t seen the band since Portland 2010! We are Ten Club (10c) members, but missed the initial on-sale. A nice PJ fanatic named Matt from Poznan, Poland offered us one ticket. We waited several weeks more for our other ticket to appear via Peleg from Tel Aviv, Israel. Now, we just had to plan our travels across Eastern Czech Republic through Mikulov and Olomouc into Prague.
A nice expat (living in CZ) named Jeremy organized a PJ group beer walking tour of Prague Old City. The gathering took place a few days prior to the show at Kotleta Bar & Restaurant. Many fans were just arriving from two shows in Amsterdam. The excitement was building as tour stories surrounded us. We learned that they played an old Temple of the Dog favorite called “Crown of Thorns”. Eddie was still drinking his bottles of red on stage and spraying the audience. A longtime Pearl Jam fan was allowed to create an entire Amsterdam show setlist. The bands’ families were on tour and the children very close by the stage. Matt Cameron’s son (12 years old) had recently played drums during “The Fixer”.
Peleg showed up for the walking tour event and immediately chatted it up with Christie. We felt good about our tickets and happy to hang out with such kind and genuine people. The 10c is really a unique group of dedicated music fans. Everyone seemed to thrive off PJ’s special healing power. The crew openly discussed their life stories and bonded very quickly. A few unfiltered Czech beers later, we were all friends off to the next destination.
Jeremy led us to the historic Charles Bridge dating back to the 14th century. The bridge is littered with tourists, musicians and souvenir stands. Nevertheless, one has to love the statutes and views of the Castle District and Vltava river. We learned that the original 30 baroque statutes were erected in the 17th century and later replaced for preservation purposes. It was here that Brett met Joe, a retired NY Fireman with plenty of battle scars to bare. Next, we strolled over to the Old Town Square (Stare Mesto, Praha 1) to see the old Astronomical Clock.
The tour led us back across the Charles Bridge to the Castle District (Hradcany). Near the Strahov Monastery buildings (year 1142) lies a popular restaurant and microbrewery called The Strahov Monastery Brewery (Klášterní pivovar Strahov). We had lunch and 11 degree St. Norbert Czech beers before visiting Prague Castle. Most interestingly, Mozart played the organ while visiting the Strahov Monastery in 1787. The main building is watched over by the National Guard. We missed the 12pm marching ceremony, but proceeded to the Roman Catholic St. Vitus Cathedral. This was our favorite structure in Prague. The late French Gothic style cathedral dates back to 1344 and is in remarkable shape. We couldn’t stop staring at the gargoyle and musician statutes peering down off the building. It was like living in medieval times. Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors are buried here. It is the most important church in the Czech Republic.
The Jewish Quarter (Josefov) is located just northeast of Stare Mesto and has history dating back to the 10th century. Only six synagogues, the old cemetery, and the Old Jewish Town Hall remain. During WWII, the Nazis had planned the “exotic museum of an extinct race” to showcase artifacts from exterminated Jews around Europe. The Old New Synagogue (Gothic) was closed for Sunday…… and the Old Cemetery (Europe’s oldest Jewish Cemetery [1500-1800’s]) was closed due to “technical difficulties”. Overall, the quarter is very commercialized and sheds little light on daily life in the old Jewish Ghetto.
Prague was especially crowded this weekend because of July holiday season, the Euro Cup final and Pearl Jam show. We sat and watched the Euro Cup final in the Old Town Square. Hyundai setup a stage and big screen TV. The Astronomical Clock Tower stood in the background with people watching from atop. Gothic “Tyn Church” stood to our right. The more Spain scored, the harder the rain poured. Poor Italy. We ran a few miles home in the rain to catch some rest before the big Pearl Jam show.
The 10c line entered O2 Arena at 6:15pm. We met Dave & Lauren (teachers living in Istanbul, from Seattle & New York) in line and hung out with them the rest of the show. Some people rushed to the stage for positioning near Mike, Eddie or Stone. Others paraded the merchandise booths for T-Shirts and posters. The show poster was this creepy political Ronald McDonald character taking over Prague. We each grabbed a tee and beers for the floor. The setup was great because the 10c had the very front gated off from the general admission floor tickets. This meant we could reenter freely with no problem.
“The X”, an old LA punk rock band opened the show playing a few tunes with Eddie Vedder. Then, Pearl Jam conquered a somewhat introverted Czech crowd. The show started slow and sweet with “Sometimes” and built an amazing intensity we hadn’t seen in years. Some favorites include Betterman, Crazy Mary, Once, Just Breathe, Not for You and Garden. Eddie attempted to speakin Czech saying they were the best fans of this tour. Unfortunately, “Release” was not played in memory of our dear friend Kevin. This was at the top of our wish-list.
We left the show (and Prague) enthusiastic about life and wanting more! That night, we decided to swap Slovakia for Berlin, Germany and head out in the morning for two more Pearl Jam shows……….