[Photos by FELICIA PERRETTI]
BY ADAM BONANNI Pearl Jam know they had their work cut out for them: to send the Spectrum beyond the clouds and somewhere over the rainbow to reunite with Veterans Stadium in that great arena final resting place in the sky. “We’re not the cleanup crew” Eddie Vedder exclaimed between songs Tuesday night at said Spectrum, alluding to the fact that Springsteen closed out his series with a four-hour banger the other week. Not to be outdone,Vedder made a bold claim: “By Saturday night, we’re gonna try to play every song we know…and that may include some that nobody know.” It’s a super-ambitious goal, and one that was clear in focus Tuesday night.
Opener “Corduroy” was the perfect way to fire up the audience, and I’m always impressed with how good the song sounds in a considerably more uptempo fashion than the studio recording. Vitalogy, PJ’s third studio album and fan favorite, got considerable representation, and the band was able to hit all of their studio albums, even dipping into their B-sides collection with the intimate and haunting “Bee Girl.” Rhythm guitarist Stone Gossard mixed things up by stepping up to the mic to perform “Mankind”, although his voice sounds more suited to the version he performed in studio. One of the obvious focal points of the show was Pearl Jam’s newly released album Backspacer, with five well-chosen cuts: “Unthought Known,” a fist-pumping anthem of self-revelation; “Supersonic” and “The Fixer,” strong riff-driven rockers; and “Just Breathe” and “The End,” powerful but delicate ballads suited for the large venue.
Vedder’s short acoustic set in the middle of the show — which included “Bee Girl,” “Just Breathe,” “The End,” and transitioning brilliantly into “All Those Yesterdays” — was a fantastic change of pace and demonstrated a more personal side to the charismatic rocker. Still can’t shake those political tendencies though, but he seems to be in a better place, speaking about unity and working together for a common purpose. If this isn’t your bag, it was an easy spot to overlook, but after spending two studio albums trying to claim that the government doesn’t speak for us and now claiming that “we all gotta help out the President, he’s a good guy”, whatever he’s going for is getting a bit old. Doesn’t change the fact that Eddie Vedder and Co. still perform with the intensity of their former 20-year-old selves (while Matt Cameron still looks like he’s 20). These guys really put on a hell of a show, and since there isn’t a band in the world that would turn down the final series at the Spectrum, Pearl Jam acted humbled, grateful, and ready to prove that they should be there.
Setlist: Corduroy, Whipping, Hail Hail, Supersonic, Dissident, Unthought Known, Faithful, Parachutes, Unemployable, Immortality, Green Disease, Not For You, Rival, Nothingman, Ghost, Do the Evolution, Why Go, Bee Girl, Just Breathe, The End, All Those Yesterdays, State of Love and Trust, Mankind, The Fixer, Go, Daughter, Love Reign O’er Me, Black, Leash, Rearviewmirror, Rockin’ in the Free World