Photos and words by Joe Janiak:
I have to admit that when the grunge scene was going strong in the early nineties I managed to stay just outside of it. I was an easy candidate, at the time, an angry teenager not necessarily interested in the main stream of society, parents going through divorce, not quite sure what to make of everything. I think what steered me away was the fact that the whole “alternative” scene was becoming popular. This stuff was on MTV seemingly non-stop, and as the hits rolled out radio stations played the new stuff over and over, until it seemed like torture.
But, as the years kept passing I eventually gave in to the fact that Pearl Jam is a talented band and they deserve some respect. They passed the test of time that most popular bands seem to fail in one way or another – drugs, egos, death. They have managed to do it their own way and they have managed to stay relevant over the course of almost twenty five years. And although money is probably not a worry at this point, lead man Eddie Vedder continues to appear as a working class front man, talking to the crowd as if he is one in the same.
Mr Vedder had no shortage of words on Saturday night as the band ripped through thirty lyric-filled songs in a matter of about three hours. The mood between songs was conversational. As Eddie walked around swilling his bottle of wine, he complimented the Buffalo Sabres for having the coolest team emblem in hockey, he told a story about writing songs while working with Neil Young and he rambled along as if he were at home up there.
In the thirty song line-up we saw nine songs off the new album, Lightning Bolt, including two live debuts- “My Father’s Son” and “Swallowed Whole.”
It is tough to pull off that many new songs in one concert, but the fact that they are playing new songs at all, this far in to their career is something to take note of. It means that they are still playing for themselves. Essentially, ‘Hopefully you like it but if not too bad.’ At times they seemed like the band from twenty years ago that had everything to prove and nothing to lose. Songs like, “Once,” “Porch,” and in particular, “Rats,” gave off that garage band feeling. “Porch” allowed for Mike McCready to let loose on the fretboard, while other songs were more about the sentimental, heartfelt lyrics of Vedder. In their later years the band is still ripening and growing. The music originated with young angst and as in life has mellowed and matured with time.
Crowd sing alongs filled the arena during, “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town,” and near the end of the second Encore, they saluted arena rock with The Who cover, “Baba O’Riley.”
If you were not happy with the concert I suggest that you go see them again next time. There was a lot of new material, we may not have heard all of the fan favorites and there was even one song that had to be started over, but Pearl Jam is a band that is known for putting on great live shows and they change their setlist on a daily basis so you can count on something different each time. In my opinion, maybe a bit of and off night as far as audience connection and band energy, but an off night for a band like Pearl Jam is still a rocking time.
02. Low Light
05. Lightning Bolt
06. Mind Your Manners
07. Do The Evolution
09. My Father’s Son
10. Even Flow
11. Swallowed Whole
15. I Got Shit
17. Present Tense
18. State Of Love And Trust
20. Off He Goes
21. Yellow Moon
22. Future Days
23. Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
25. Got Some
29. Baba O’Riley