Wednesday, May 19, 2010

REVIEW: PEARL JAM 05/18/10 NEWARK

Last night I saw Pearl Jam for the first time in... well, in about a half year. What can I say, I love the band!

Pearl Jam have hit a stride in their career where they are a weird cross between The Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen.  Like The Dead, they can tour when they want to, with or without a new album, play any song from their catalog and have radically different shows every night. And like Bruce, they are at a point where they are so finely tuned that they empty the tank every show, are able to be spontaneous, and on any given night might be the best band in the world.

While this show wasn't as epic at the Halloween show in Philly, it was pretty awesome.  (To be fair, that show was, as mentioned, on Halloween, it was the final event at The Spectrum before it was to be torn down, and right across the parking lot was the final game of the World Series, between The New York Yankees and The Philadelphia Phillies. It really felt like the center of the earth that night).

The biggest surprise was a cover of "Jersey Girl" - that was when I took the above photo... you'll notice Stone Gossard is not playing guitar - instead he's rockin' the tambourine. I've seen Stone play bass and even drums (with Brad) but this was the first time I've seen him tap the tambourine. But there were other great moments with rare tracks: "Footsteps" was my highlight, but it was also great to hear "Alone" and "Brother." Also great (and kind of rare): "In Hiding" and "Whipping."

I was fortunate enough to have gotten fan club tickets for the show - which placed my wife and I in the eighth row, center, on the floor, the best tickets I have ever had for Pearl Jam, and some of my best tickets ever. I have tickets for two other PJ shows this week, at both shows we will be in the upper upper upper level. It was great to watch the band that way. Eddie Vedder has become a great band leader, when you're close, you can really see it.  I think that at one point, Stone resisted that, but now he seems OK with it.  I think that Stone is such a generous musician and a real team player.  I mean, playing tambourine on "Jersey Girl!" He kind of does what the song requires, even if it is just strumming an acoustic.  He lets Mike McCready take all the solos, but he and Jeff Ament are kind of the glue that holds the whole thing together. Of course I gotta mention Matt Cameron.  I look forward to seeing him later this year with Soundgarden, his style with Pearl Jam is so different.

If you've never seen Pearl Jam, you should make it your business to see a show. If you've never seen a rock and roll show (although if you haven't, you probably wouldn't be reading this blog), you should go see Pearl Jam. They really are as life-affirming as a rock and roll band could be.

I should mention the opening band, Band Of Horses. Their song "No One's Gonna Love You" was my second favorite song of 2008 (after only Bruce Springsteen's "The Wrestler"). They were really good, they remind me of The Band, and not just because of their colonial beards. And also My Morning Jacket. What is it with the beards! I don't know that I would pay to see Band Of Horses on their own, but they were a good opening act. Eddie joined them for a song, and frontman Ben Bridwell returned the favor by joining Pearl Jam for "All Along The Watchtower" (but he sort of was out of his weight class trying to rock out).

2 comments:

grizaham said...

I wanna be in NYC today! Those shows are gonna be sweet!
Cant get enough... ;-)

Christiejolu said...

Mike McCready is one of my favorite guitarists! Mad Season is one of the best CD's ever!

I haven't gotten to see PEarl Jam yet...I so want to...