Tuesday, November 17, 2009
My 1ST PEARL JAM CONCERT REVIEW
Proof that this was the best concert yet I've ever attended in my life: Right now, I'm suffering from severe post-concert depression. It always happens to me; I took quite a long time to recover from the Hyde Park shows, and this will be no different, probably worse. The only difference is that I got some fucking exams coming up next week and I can't afford to drown myself in sorrow now!! But then again, it's good that I took the effort to travel to the show, if not, I'll never forgive myself as long as I live. And the trip to Perth was WORTH IT.
I'll start with the openers. Liam Finn. I've never heard any of his music prior to this, but I thought he was pretty good. The fella seemed like he was possessed on stage for most of the time. I was totally floored by his drum playing. Sometimes he'll play a few bars and then let it loop for the rest of the song, while he goes on to play the guitar. He was also helped by a female singer, whose name I don't remember. During those 30mins, they also did a kick-ass cover of Neil Young's Cinnamon Girl. That was a pleasant surprise :)
But an even bigger surprise occurred near the beginning of the Ben Harper & Relentless7 one hour set. Some guy in sunglasses and leather jacket casually walked onstage and traded vocals with Ben on Under Pressure. That guy was the sole reason why I came to Perth in the first place. He looked cool as a motherfucker. The (still very small) crowd went apeshit. I just had a feeling there and then that this was gonna be a really memorable night. Having seen the same band for the second time this year, I actually preferred this performance to their previous one in London. Somehow, Ben and the guys seemed less tense and it looked like they enjoyed themselves more. Maybe because of Eddie Vedder helping them out. Their set was more or less similar to the Hyde Park one, but it was nice to hear songs like Fly One Time, Boots Like These and Up To You Now again.
Now for the main event. By 8pm, the sky had turned dark, and the stadium lights were switched on. The GA section was very very packed and people just kept streaming in non-stop. I was sitting at the right side of the stage, and I was afraid I was gonna get a restricted view. But luckily the crew brought Matt Cameron's drums set forward so I got a pretty clear view. The only thing I couldn't really see was Boom Gasper and his keyboards. Pearl Jam walked onstage to a piano instrumental, and this was when I screamed my lungs out. Instead of starting the show with a slower song (so no Oceans), they decided to kick things off into high gear by launching into Breakerfall. Wise choice. I bet most of the casual crowd didn't recognize the song. Great vocals from Eddie, though the sound mix wasn't really good yet. But it got much better as the show progressed. Then without taking a breather, the band played Why Go, followed by Corduroy. That's when the crowd really got into it. I've heard so many bootleg versions of those two songs, but to hear them live for the first time....WOW!!!! Jeff Ament's bass and Matt's drums really pushed the songs forward, and you don't really get that 'live' sound from the official recordings.
Gonna See My Friend sorta ended the high energy 'four pack' before Eddie started talking. It was nice to hear Small Town, and everyone sang along to the words. Amongst The Waves is a personal favorite of mine, and I have to admit I got a little emotional during that song. Then came Even Flow, the first of many more hits. Here, we got to see Mike McCready's face-melting guitar solo. Eddie then decided to play an obscure PJ song from the Yield record, Pilate. Not a fan of that, but they did an awesome version. Daughter was another fun sing-along, and Eddie incorporated a bit of W.M.A. at the end. Big Wave was one of the many surprises I got during the show. I knew they'd play it sooner or later, given that the song is about surfing! I Am Mine was dedicated to Nick Cave, whom Eddie said was one of the best writers ever. It was also the first (and only) fuck-up of the night. It seemed like Eddie kinda stumbled on the lyrics of the first verse and then called for a re-start.
Second surprise was when Grievance was played. My top five PJ song. Totally blown away by it, especially the part when Eddie screamed. Garden was another rarely played song, but didn't get much response from the crowd around me. Speaking of the crowd, my area was seated the whole time. Damn, I was surprised how polite everyone was. The only hardcore fans were the 10c members, who were all standing at right at the front. The Fixer got a huge response, always great as usual. A very fast version of Save You ended the main set after only 1hr 20min. The first encore began with a stunningly beautiful version of Just Breathe, dedicated to a fan who couldn't make the '06 shows due to a motor accident. Then, Ben Harper returned the favor by coming out and playing slide guitar on Red Mosquito :D Again, I was blown the fuck away.
But the highlight of the entire show has got to be PJ covering Love Reign O'er Me. They have done The Who proud on this one. The band TOTALLY FUCKING NAILED the song. Eddie's vocals were spot on, and he sang like his life depended on it; in fact he sings like this on every song. The band was tight as shit. I was so fucking overwhelmed after that. Whipping was another big surprise; I think it's a really underrated song, but when played live, it really kills. Do The Evolution was the perfect song to conclude the 1st encore, with Stone Gossard contributing some killer riffs. He's a weird fella, didn't really move around much, but he really played some great shit.
The second encore had Liam Finn dueting with Eddie on Throw Your Arms Around Me. It was an impromptu decision, but the crowd helped to sing along for this one. The last four songs of the show were just fucking amazing. The big guns were brought out; Given To Fly, Better Man, Alive, and Yellow Ledbetter. It doesn't get any better than this!!! No matter how you look at it, these songs always work live in the end. Everyone sang their hearts out on Better Man and Alive. Even Eddie seemed surprised. Soon, the house lights went up, and it was just a beautiful sight, to see the whole stadium. Yellow Ledbetter ended with a beautiful outro by Mike. And that was it, after almost 2.5 hrs and 28 songs (with a pretty good representation from every album). The band took their last bow and left the stage.
Who cares if I didn't get to hear most of my favorite songs? I wasn't at all disappointed. Just like what Bruce and Neil had done to me back in June, this concert was another life-changing experience. I don't really know how to describe it in words, but Pearl Jam has given me a new outlook on life. They're living proof that you don't need big fucking theatrics and pyrotechnics to put on a great Rock & Roll concert. This is live music in its purest form. To quote a line off the brilliant song Unthought Known, "This is living."
Is Eddie Vedder the greatest frontman ever? Fuck yeah!!! I enjoyed those parts where he talked to the crowd in between songs. He poked fun at Britney Spears, saying that at one point, he'd do some lip-synching, just so he had time to drink and smoke, haha. Eddie also pointed out a 12yr old kid right up front and told the crowd to take care of each other. What a great guy. He and the band looked really happy to be playing in Australia after so long, and they're just getting started; I'm sure the other cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane will get even better shows. Now that the good times are over for me, the only thing I'm looking forward to is the official bootleg of the show, hopefully two weeks from now. Thank God for Pearl Jam.
2. Why Go
4. Gonna See My Friend
5. Small Town
6. Amongst The Waves
7. Even Flow
9. Unthought Known
11. Big Wave
12. Force Of Nature
13. I Am Mine
16. The Fixer
17. Save You
18. Just Breathe
19. Red Mosquito (feat. Ben Harper)
20. Love Reign O'er Me
22. Got Some
23. Do The Evolution
24. Throw Your Arms Around Me (feat. Liam Finn)
25. Given To Fly
26. Betterman/Save It For Later
28. Yellow Ledbetter