Review: Pearl Jam deliver quality and quantity in Vancouver
Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder belts out a tune to an ecstatic Rogers Arena, Wed., Dec. 4, 2013. (Anil Sharma/CTV)
Published Thursday, December 5, 2013 9:55AM PST
Last Updated Thursday, December 5, 2013 10:03AM PST
Don’t let anyone tell you that Pearl Jam have become a nostalgia act. Because on last night’s form throughout a marathon concert at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, the veteran Seattle five-piece don’t have to delve into the distant past to conjure moments of magic.
Knowing that they had a long road in front of them, Pearl Jam started slowly: “Oceans” and “Low Light” easing an eager crowd into the journey ahead. It wasn’t until “Corduroy” that the band exploded into life, Eddie Vedder leaning into his guitar with a foot on the monitor.
“We’re not home yet,” he smiled by way of introduction, referencing Seattle, the band’s next stop, before interrupting himself. “We’ll talk later. Let’s keep this f***er going!”
True to his word, the band rattled through hits past and present, raucous newbies like “Mind Your Manners” nestling comfortably next to classics like “Daughter,” “Not For You” and “Even Flow,” introduced with a reminiscence about playing it at Vancouver’s Town Pump in 1991.
Eddie Vedder was having as much fun as the crowd, wandering into the front row to fill glasses from an oversized bottle of red wine during a Mike McCready guitar solo, before announcing that, “I’d like to play a Lou Reed song,” and performing a puppy dog-cute one-man rendition of “After Hours.”
What appeared to be the set’s end concluded with a pounding version of “Porch” that climaxed with Vedder taking a ride over the heads of the crowd on a lamp suspended from the rigging. But the real fun was just beginning.
“Out of 140 songs we’ve played on this tour this is one that hasn’t been played yet,” smiled a seated Vedder, unveiling “Soon Forget” on the band’s return.
Prompting multiple choruses of boos by toasting Chris Chelios, he instantly regained Vancouver’s favour with a smile, an aside of “F*ck you, we’re friends, I can say that,” and an emotional rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Mother,” immediately followed by a brilliant “Given To Fly” and an immense “Better Man,” climaxing with Vedder, McCready, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament gathered in a tight circle rocking it out.
The band strode off again but were back less than a minute later, revelling in the adulation now flooding their way. “Go” was followed by “Do The Evolution” which was followed by “Black.”
“Thanks Vancouver,” smiled Vedder, looking over the standing ovation. “It’s been a night to remember.”
The house lights now on, it seemed that the night, which was about to become early morning, would finish with a passionate “Alive.” But after its last chord rang out Vedder invited on stage Mark Arm and Steve Turner from support band Mudhoney (who had provided a superb set of arena-inappropriate garage fuzz-rock hours earlier) for a wild rendition of The MC5’s “Kick Out The Jams.”
“They say leave them wanting more,” shrugged Vedder, as Mark Arm lay on his back swigging from a wine bottle, “Well f*** that s***!” An appropriate introduction to “Yellow Ledbetter” as the show lurched into its fourth hour and a new day.
Pearl Jam’s brilliance does not rest solely in the hands and voice of the great Eddie Vedder. But at the same time there’s no rock and roll front man of this or perhaps any generation with the same ability to blend the illusion of small venue intimacy with the theatrics of arena rock. There’s no trick to it either. He does it with sincerity and passion, forged in the spirit of the underground rock ethos he helped bring into the mainstream and honed over years of bringing it to fans around the world.
Pearl Jam didn’t need another epic show in Vancouver to preserve their legacy as the enduring American rock band of their generation. But it was incredible fun watching it happen anyway.