I had just gotten home from running errands on a beautiful Sunday. With my list completed I sat my happy ass down on the couch in front of the TV for an afternoon of snacks and watching The Masters. Before Jordan Speith could get out to a five shot lead and consequently lose that lead my phone rang. It was Power Chord sponsor Kurt who owns Scream Guitars, he had an extra ticket to see Pearl Jam in Tampa the next night and wanted to know if I wanted to go.
Normally an offer to go to a concert with anyone, especially a good friend is a no-brainer. The fact that it was Pearl Jam gave me pause though. I like Pearl Jam, I don’t love Pearl Jam. I, like most fans of rock know their first album Ten back and forth. After that, since I worked in radio for so long I know the songs that I played. I’ve only seen them play live once. It was that night why I’ve only been a casual Pearl Jam fan.
The scene was the Hollywood Palladium; the band had exploded with the song Alive. Jeremy hadn’t even been released as a single yet. It was a very popular ticked to get. The phones at the radio station were ringing off the hook in anticipation of winning tickets. The Palladium is really nothing but a big ballroom. If I had to guess it holds a 1000 people. This show was sold out immediately. We got to the venue early to hand out stickers and shirts. For some reason, it seemed like a really long time before PJ hit the stage. I can’t remember if there were a lot of opening bands, they just went on late, or I was just tired. With show oversold it was really hot inside the old building. The lights went out the crowd went wild and the band we were so anticipating came on stage. Instead of amping up the energy in the room with a rocking song, they opened with a song called Wash. It’s a good song but not an in your face, here we are and we’re going blow the roof off this place kind of tune. That has always left a bad taste in my mouth.
Now 25 years later I’m going to see them again. There was no opening band this time. At 8:30 the lights went down. This time they opened with "Why Go". No mellow start to this show, the band rocked. Eddie Vedder’s voice sounds exactly as it sounded as it did 25 years ago. In fact, it may just sound better. What grabbed my attention right away was the guitar playing of Mike McCready. He shredded his way through his way through the first five songs in the set. Pearl Jam is a band not known for its guitar solos. When they started they were a band making a stand against guitar pyrotechnics. At least that’s what I thought. Not anymore.
The band powered its way through the first hour and twenty minutes. Then kind of awkwardly all ran off stage. Like they had to set their DVRs or all go pee. Once they came back for what turned out to be a second of three sets.
Eddie Vedder seemed to be in fine spirts. He told a story about taking a Lamborghini for a joy ride while he worked for a hotel. He also spoke of making sure veterans got proper health care. Then the band did a great version of John Lennon’s "Imagine".
By the time the show was all said and done it was after 11pm. Close to a three hour show. I have done a complete 180 degree turn on what I think of Pearl Jam as a live band. A big thanks to Kurt from Scream Guitars for giving me the chance to change my mind.
Mind Your Manners
Love Boat Captain
Hard to Imagine
My Father's Son
(Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd tag)
In the Moonlight
Do the Evolution
Off He Goes
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
(John Lennon cover)
(Save it for Later by English Beat tag)
(Dead Boys cover)
(The Who cover)
(The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)