Sunday, June 19, 2011


Tonight, I saw the third show of Eddie Vedder's solo tour at The Mortensen Hall in Connecticut.  He's touring for his second solo album, Ukelele Songs.  This show made a great argument for the man having parallel careers: one with Pearl Jam and one on his own.  The show was divided fairly evenly between his first solo album Into The Wild, Ukelele Songs and Pearl Jam stuff. Ed did spend a lot of time on the uke, but also played acoustic and electric guitar and even a bit of mandolin.

He kicked off with a bunch of cuts from Ukelele Songs, including his uke-d up version of Pearl Jam's "Can't Keep."  I will review that album in a later post, but I will say that I happen to like it a lot. The title is not false advertising: the album is mostly Ed on uke, and it's  lovely.  Most of the songs are less than three minutes, some less than two, but the songs are solid. 

But back to the show itself: predictably, the Pearl Jam songs got a huge reaction: once he played "Sometimes," people were going crazy.  I think their latest album, Backspacer, has aged really well, and he did great versions of some of the songs, including "Just Breathe," "Speed Of Sound" and "Unthought Known ." One of his most emotional performances was "Better Man."  He mentioned performing that song onstage with Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, and instead of a guitar solo, Clarence Clemons played a sax solo. (I was at that show, it was at the end of the Vote For Change tour).  Eddie didn't know, however, that Clarence had died earlier that evening, until his tech came out and told him.  When he went into the song (a much different version that Pearl Jam's), it was pretty heavy. He didn't play any Bruce songs though. It would have been cathartic if he did: and he actually covered two the other night ("Dead Man Walking" and "Open All Night.") But still, it was a great show. 

Speaking of aging well, his first solo album, 2007's Into The Wild soundtrack, gets a great reaction and the songs hold up to Pearl Jam's.  He played most of the record, and some of those songs, like "Hard Sun," "Far Behind" and "Guaranteed" are classics. 

I always get nervous when a singer from a band that I like starts to do solo stuff, but in Eddie's case, I think doing the solo acoustic (and ukelele) stuff probably recharges his batteries to go back to playing with the band, and I know they're doing a short tour later this summer, including a 2 day festival celebrating their 20th anniversary as a band. But taken on its own merits, his solo career is developing into it's own thing. Hopefully he will do both for a long time. 

Glen Hansard opened: he's from the band The Frames, also The Swell Season and he starred in the film Once. He was really good, and he joined Eddie for a few songs: you can tell that they have a cool bond (as Eddie did with his opener on his last tour, Liam Finn). 

No comments: