4.25.2003

 
Eddie Vedder impressed the hell out of me Wednesday night.



Sometimes I think the second-best unexpected result of coming to the Cornfield College of Law has been the concerts. Since moving down here, I have seen Dave Matthews Band, O.A.R and Counting Crows in relatively intimate settings. I saw O.A.R. in a place that probably holds less than 1,000 people, Counting Crows with probably 1,500 other people (cheap tickets on the floor 10 yards off the stage!) and Dave Matthews in an arena set up to hold right around 9-10,000 people. Pretty unusual, I would say. And of course, I cannot forget the Bon Jovi show in Chicago a few months ago.

And after Wednesday night, I get to add Pearl Jam to that list.

The show, surprisingly mellow for a band the caliber of Pearl Jam, got very close to the perfect rock concert. The bad sounded very tight, playing for a full two and half hours without wasting any time to dick around (how Dave Matthews managed to severely disappoint me and reduce my opinion of him drastically). They put together a really solid mix of tunes, dipping deep into the bag for a lot of great stuff off Ten and Vs. to balance out the stuff off the more recent albums. Moreover, they went from energy song to chill tune flawlessly, letting the rhythm of the crowd ebb and flow. And perhaps most impressively, they played a two-encore set that lasted almost as long as the main show.

Lots of bands manage to put this sort of show together, however. But none of those bands have Eddie Vedder.

The man amazed me last night with his energy and emotion and his ability to ride the music and scream into the mike for an entire song and then turn it around and hit all the right harmonies of “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town.” Moreover, when Pearl Jam started out, Eddie wrote the lyrics and kept the crowd going. In the 13 years or so since Ten came out, Eddie has turned into a solid musician, showing off his talents with the guitar unaccompanied on multiple occasions last night.

But his voice, his ability to strain and growl and scream with emotion like the grunge rocker we first thought him as never failed him the entire night. He never shied away from high notes like a lot of performers, and he often pushed himself past the lines achieved on the records. And he did it all without coming off as a showman, just a guy up there plying his craft and saying to hell with leaving the stage because the band does not have class the next day.

Anyway, we had a great time at the show. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up for Pearl Jam. Absolutely worth the price of admission.