The words outstanding, amazing and awesome come to mind, but seem to fall short in describing the scene Saturday night at the XL Center in Hartford. The energy that the five members of Pearl Jam displayed could only be matched by the 16,000 plus sold out arena. For two hours and twenty minutes, Eddie Vedder and the boys made everything feel right in the music world.
Just before 9PM, a piano instrumental played through the speakers. As the lights went out, the place erupted with a welcoming applause. Pearl Jam wasted no time diving into their latest release “Backspacer” starting the evening off with “Unthought Known.” The band went on to play eight of the album’s eleven tracks throughout the evening. Pearl Jam pushed the energy in the arena to its limits with “Corduroy,” “Do the Evolution,” and fan favorite “Even Flow” all-powered by the drumming of Matt Cameron. The momentum slowed for only a moment during “Nothingman” which found Jeff Ament performing on his stand-up bass. “Jeremy” found the audience in full-participation, singing and hand-gesturing the lyrics. The stage turned red as the band kicked into high-gear with “Satan’s Bed” and “Lukin” (that Eddie referred to as “Satan’s Kitchen”) before finishing the main set with “Gonna See My Friends” from the band’s new album.
Eddie Vedder was in a very giving mood, dedicating two of the first encore’s five songs. Beginning with the acoustic “Just Breathe”, which was dedicated to Connecticut cartoonist Dan Perkin (Tom Tomorrow) & his family. Sticking with the acoustic guitar, they continued with the rarely played “Speed of Sound,” which Eddie stated they’ve only performed twice. Then the band picked-up the pace with their classic non-album song “State of Love & Trust”. Pearl Jam dedicated the next song to the UConn Women’s Basketball team as they tore through an electrifying cover of Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” Guitarist Mike McCready performed his best Eddie Van Halen impression during the solo. Eddie’s mic stand paid the toll, as the first encore closed with an energetic version of “Porch”.
Pearl Jam returned once again for a second encore with one of their new songs “The Fixer”, which was dedicated to Jennifer Jaff (Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness). Keyboardist Boom Gaspar and Mike McCready brought the rare gem “Crazy Mary” to life with a jamming solo, which set the stage for an audience rendition of “Alive.” Before the band lead into a jazzy version of “Indifference,” Eddie took a moment to discuss all the hard work that Sean Penn is doing in Haiti and how to contribute to the rebuilding process. With the house lights on, Pearl Jam invited Band of Horses lead singer Ben Bridwell to close out the evening with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”
After twenty years together, Pearl Jam has arguable become one of the top live acts of all-time and their most recent appearance in Connecticut only proves that argument to be correct. Band of Horses began the evening with a 45-minute set that included new songs from their new release “Infinite Arms.”
Do The Evolution
Amongst The Waves
I Got Shit,
Gonna See My Friend
Speed of Sound
State of Love and Trust
Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love (Van Halen)
All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan)