Throughout my almost 48 years, I have had several favorite bands. Depending on the time period of my life, the style of music has changed. There have been constants however. First, the Beatles are, and always will be, one of my favorites. Throw in early 80s U2, early R.E.M., and the Police you have most of my young life. In the 90s, that all changed. I th0ught Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Rage Against the Machine defined the 90s as bands. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the formation of Pearl Jam and the release of Ten, their first album. For me, there was not a greater time for music. The band was fresh and new and released a lot of music in a short period of time between the album, CD singles, and soundtracks. In honor of the 20th anniversary, Cameron Crowe will be releasing a documentary, PJ 20, this fall on PBS and on September 3 and 4, Pearl Jam will be holding a 20 year celebration concert.
I have always loved Pearl Jam. I don’t really know why. Maybe it was the lyrics, the rawness, the fact that they rocked hard, or it could have been the fact their music was about their music and not their hair, sales, or clothes. The antithesis to the hair bands of the late 80s, so called grunge rockers looked like the kids and young adults around the block. Nobody went around dressing up like Poison unless they wanted to get beat up.
Now, I have waxed poetic about Pearl Jam before. Once about Ticketmaster, the other about Roskilde. Today, I will be writing and posting about what I think is the strength of Pearl Jam – their ability to play live. They are one of the best live bands of all time. What I would like to do is to put together what I think would be the ultimate Pearl Jam concert. It would include all my favorite songs by them and some covers. It would be full on rock, some acoustic moments, and some rare and obscure songs.
From time to time, Eddie Vedder is known for coming out and playing a few songs by himself. My ultimate PJ concert would start off in this format.
I have always loved the idea of just a singer and guitar. Part of it is growing up in the 60s and 70s, the other is I think you get to hear the song and singer in an unmatched format. For this ultimate concert, Angel kicks things off. Written by Eddie Vedder and one time drummer Dave Abrruzzese, this little sounding Hendrix-like ditty has always been one of my favorites!
Next, Eddie calms the crowd with the Hunters and Collectors campfire song, “Throw Your Arms Around Me”.
Next up is Eddie covering Bruce Springsteen’s “Open All Night”. He gets some of the words wrong but who cares!
Closing out the pre-show is Eddie’s take on Neil Young’s classic coming of age song, “Sugar Mountain”.
The set begins with the classic Release playing as the band takes the stage. They launch in to Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive” and segue into “Corduroy” off the Vitalogy CD.
The pace is kept up with the burner “Go”.
No let up as the band breaks out the classic up tempo “Rear View Mirror”. Taped for a rehearsal on Saturday Night Live, the song takes on extra weight as their is no audience.
The band continues blazing by breaking out “Brother” from the sessions for Ten.
The band bookends “Brother” with “Alone”, also from the Ten sessions.
Ending the trip down memory lane is “Breath” from the Singles soundtrack
Next up is “Sad”, an out take from Binaural
Next the band slows it down with the rare, “Hard to Imagine”
Next up, Ben Harper makes his first appearance of the night to guest on “Red Mosquito”
Next up is the euphoric (for me), “Given to Fly”
Andrew Rehn gets the first of his three back-to-back-to-back ultimate requests with “Down”
“Inside Job” takes things to another level
The first set comes to a close with the fury of “Evenflow”
After a short break, the band would return for this ultimate concert with an semi-acoustic set. To kick it off, “Of the Girl”
Next up would be the much under appreciated “Oceans” off of Ten.
“Footsteps” makes its greatness known. The music originally was used on the Temple of the Dog song “Times of Trouble”.
Another under appreciated song, “Off He Goes” makes its beauty known!
The band takes “State of Love and Trust” out for a spin
“Lukin” is redone with string quartet!
The beautiful “Just Breath” takes your breath away.
The band returns for “Last Kiss”
In a surprise move, “Yellow Ledbetter” gets the acoustic treatment
An excellent version of “Present Tense” begins the second electric set!
“Do the Evolution” cranks up the sarcasm!
The full on power of the band just keeps flowing with “Blood”
One of my favorite songs, “I Got Id” captures the band at its finest!
“Leash” returns and is unleashed on an unsuspecting crowd!
This band just doesn’t quit when they break out a cover of The Who’s “The Real Me” in a powerful performance.
The recent “Unthought Known” does well and raises the roof
“Not for You” gets the crowd going even more!
The band breaks out some Bob Marley before turning into a poignant version of “Better Man”
“Leatherman” makes a rare appearance
Hail Hail revs up everyone’s engines
“Immortality” closes out the second electric set
The jam begins with “Daughter”
One of my favorites, “Last Exit” kicks it into overdrive!
“Alive” is brought back to life
Closing out encore 1 is the always great “Crazy Mary”
Encore 2 kicks off with a special guest…Mr. Ben Harper
Eddie does his best Daltry impersonation with this powerful version of “Love Reign O’er Me”
The band states its motto, “Five Against One” in the chorus of the bruising Animal.
The band ends the second encore on a high note….”Porch”
As people head for the aisles, the band returns for a third encore…with some special guests
Chris Cornell turns up to perform the classic, “Hunger Strike”
“Amongst the Waves” brings things up a notch
The classic “Black” appears in a ten minute tour de force
In a nod to the late Andy Wood, The band breaks out a Mother Love Bone classic, “Crown of Thorns”
The band breaks out a Neil Young classic, “F’in up”
The Godfather of Pearl Jam joins in to bring it home
The band takes a bow and collapses after playing the greatest show of all time.
There are a hundred other songs I could have put in, but these are my favorites. Let me know yours!