Pearl Jam

Went to see Pearl Jam last night at GM Place. After having prevaricated for so long that when I finally went to the box office, there was nothing left but seats behind the stage. Which for $50, seemed like such a rip-off. So much for Pearl Jam wanting to keep their ticket prices under $20. But yesterday, last minute, I was offered a good ticket: in the stands, directly across from the stage. I’ve been working pretty hard this week, so I thought to myself: why not? And so to Pearl Jam I went.

The show was really enjoyable. The audience was so totally enamored, which was fun to see. I can’t remember the last time I experienced such a raucus crowd at GM Place for a concert. Pearl Jam themselves played it pretty safe, with a set list heavily weighted towards Vs. and Vitalogy, so the old favourites, which works out well for me, because I’m much more of a fan of their older stuff.

As always ast GM place, the mid-ranges were really muddy (although apparently, it was crystal clear if you were on the floor), leaving Pearl Jam, which tends to the lower ranges anyway, a little but sullied. Specifically, on the ‘quieter’ songs, if you didn’t know the lyrics, there was no way you would be able to make them out. This is of course compounded by the poor acoustics of the stadium, wherein if you’re at the far end of the stage, where I was, you hear both the sound & echo, a split-second apart which is annoying.

The staging was minimalistic, which really worked for the band — they have this aura of straight-forward rock about them, so a flashy stage would possibly detract from their back-to-basics rock status. It also, of course, allowed for those behind-the-stage seats to be sellable. They did have some lights, of course, which they used to good advantage, including a bit where Eddie Vedder redirected a spot-light across the crowd, pointing out specific sections. The targeted group, of course, went nuts.

After a pretty good first set, the band went away, and seemed to milk the audience cheering for slightly longer than was necessary. On return, Eddie Vedder attempted some sort of joke or statement about Bill Gates, but it was totally flubbed, as the guy in the mask showed up late. There was also some lame joke about Canada: ‘Canada’s like you grandmother’s attic: there’s some fucked-up shit up there!’. Then the band joined him and they got back to business. The set ended, they went away, to come back yet again for a longish encore. Too long, apparently, as just as they started into ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’, the house lights came up. As a seeming fuck you to the stadium, by which time who’s staff had come out full force to glare at the crowd, they played one more song on top of that. So they did play a pretty long list of songs, which was nice.

The highlights, for me, were ‘RVM’, one of my favourite songs, and ‘Crazy Mary’, along with the crowd’s rendition of ‘Better Man’, as Eddie implored us to sing it for him. The night’s rendition of ‘EvenFlow’ (I’ve been told that there’s a version played at every show; I know there was of that first series of bootlegs from their European tour) kicked some serious ass, with an extended guitar solo that, as guitar solos go (I’m never a fan), was pretty kickin’.