It's no secret to those who know me in the real world that I am a huge Pearl Jam fan -- seeing the band live in concert over two dozen times in five states since the 1990s. So you can imagine how excited I was that front-man Eddie Vedder brought his solo tour to Philadelphia last night. And I was not left disappointed.
The setlist (below) included a suitable mix of covers (my favorites were the Beatles' "You’ve Gotta Hide Your Love Away" and Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City"), some lesser-known Pearl Jam songs and tracks from the Golden-Globe winning soundtrack to Into the Wild. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you haven't heard the latter -- you need to buy it. And if you haven't seen the movie, you need to rent it. Vedder's songs so perfectly weave into the film's storyline -- you'll witness how a soundtrack really can enhance a movie -- and not feel like some after-thought tack-on that so many soundtracks seem to be.
The night didn't turn out to be the religious experience I expected. Probably because I've grown accustomed to hearing Vedder live so often (yes, even solo as many times on tour with Pearl Jam, he plays a song or two alone on stage before opening bands' sets). And as much as I find it endearing when he screws up mid-song, even Vedder admitted last night that he was overdoing it a bit -- and needed to focus better.
But when Vedder was on, and on he was for most of the nite - the payoffs were huge. It was obvious that the crowd enjoyed a rousing "Porch" -- so I could see how some would feel a bit cheated if they were only looking for a night full of Pearl Jam's biggest and loudest hits. But I appreciated Vedder's wise selections of "Sometimes,""Around the Bend" and "I Am Mine" -- more fitting for the intimate setting.
New Zealand singer/songwriter Liam Finn opened for Vedder -- and showcased his wacky varied styles. I was entertained enough -- especially when he traded in the guitar for drums. And I really enjoyed when he joined Vedder in encores of "Society," "Throw Your Arms Around Me" and "Hard Sun." Their banter about equating the seasons to stages in relationships was very comical: spring being foreplay, summer being f*cking, fall being marriage and winter being divorce. Ok, it was a had-to-be-there moment. But trust me, funny.
Setlist - The Tower Theatre, Upper Darby, PA - Thursday, June 11
Walking the Cow, (Brain Damage intro) Sometimes, Around the Bend, I Am Mine, I’m Open, Man of the Hour, Far Behind, No Ceiling, Guaranteed, (snippet of Fernando), Rise, Driftin’, You’ve Gotta Hide Your Love Away, (Uncle Ed's Beer and Cigarette Story Time - hilarious; see below), The Kids are Alright, Last Kiss, Atlantic City, Lukin, Porch
Encore: Society, Throw Your Arms Around Me, (snippet of Let's Go Phillies), Forever Young, ARC, Hard Sun
As part of Vedder's side chat (aka, beer and cigarette break story time), he told a funny LA Lakers story. After a game once, Eddie, Jack Nicholson and Sean Penn hit a bar to have a few drinks. Up walks this woman who Eddie described as, "a human version of Jessica Rabbit." She asked Jack in a sexy southern accent, "Hey Jack, do you want to dance?" And Jack raised one eyebrow above his dark shades and said, "Sweetheart, you chose the wrong verb." Ha. Classic.
After reading this Vedder update, are you jonesing for new Pearl Jam? Missed their June 1 performance on Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show debut? Well you're in luck -- just click on the photo above and watch the band tear the roof off the studio with their brand new track "Got Some" from the forthcoming album, Backspacer - tentatively scheduled for release on September 22.
June 13 Update:
Read more about this same concert in the June 13 Philadelphia Inquirer review here.
June 22 Update:
I was offered this free download of the concert; WARNING: I have not yet downloaded -- so cannot vouch for safety.