Pearl Jam cements its grunge-rock reputation with 20th-anniversary tour stop in Vancouver
At the Pacific Coliseum on Sunday, September 25
There are a few professions that seem to have the unwritten prerequisite “must be a total douchebag”. You know the ones I’m talking about: parking ticketers, SkyTrain police, subpoena officers, security guards—the list goes on.
The security team at Sunday night’s Pearl Jam show at the Pacific Coliseum quite clearly took that qualification to heart, starting off with threatening to kick out ticket holders who accidentally sat in the wrong seats during opening act Mudhoney.
The Seattle four-piece took the stage for an uber-heavy, half-hour set to introduce its grunge contemporaries, Pearl Jam, on the road for its 20th anniversary tour. Mudhoney’s set was spoiled by one particularly overzealous guard who nearly demanded I switch seats with my plus-one for holding each other’s tickets, and then proceeded to argue with every other ticket holder in our vicinity.
By the time the much-anticipated Pearl Jam took the stage, at just 8:30 p.m., nearly every seat in the Coliseum had been filled. Eddie Vedder and his crew kicked off their tour-closing show with “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town”, which quickly thrilled the already willing crowd. The sea of flannel in the packed-like-sardines audience suggested that PJ still has a loyal following in Vancouver, in spite of the band’s less-popular recent releases.
A few songs in, Vedder was able to coax the truth out of his audience: almost half of the crowd had crossed the border from Seattle to see their hometown heroes on the last PJ20 tour stop. After that, the show became a regular Seattleite love-in, but not without a few favourable words to Vancouver.
Just after throwing out crowd-pleasers “Hail, Hail” and “Given to Fly”, Vedder reminded the house that Pearl Jam has played Vancouver 10 times since making its first hockey rink appearance—at the Coliseum—back in 1991. Vedder and his bandmates—guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard, bassist Jeff Ament, and drummer Matt Cameron—happily ripped through more well-received favourites, including “Even Flow”, “Wishlist”, and even the singer’s own “Setting Forth”.
Capping a 19-song set with the early “Porch”, Pearl Jam was called back for an encore, which elicited some slower, more intimate tunes like Backspacer’s “Just Breathe”. The acoustic, swoon-worthy song had one couple slow-dancing in the aisle, but this was quickly broken up by security.
Not quite ready to wind down, the band kicked out the power ballad “Alive” as Vedder exclaimed there were a few wet blankets in the front row. “It’s nice that they’re there, I guess, but I wish I was with those crazy people up there!” he said, pointing to the back of the Coliseum. The singer obviously hadn’t received the memo that there was a strict no-fun-on-the-floor policy being implemented by guards.
Concert patrollers were on the lookout for anyone enjoying themselves too much, really, including a girl no older than 10 who was standing on her seat to see the stage. The mini-grunger was quickly kicked off of her seat and then banned from piggybacking on her mother to get a better view. Nice work, assholes.
By the second encore the Coliseum’s lights came back on, but the band, celebrating two decades of performing, just kept rocking. Pearl Jam invited Mudhoney back on-stage for a group jam, pumping out Mother Love Bone and Jimi Hendrix covers—just in case the band’s appreciation for all things Seattle was lost on anyone.
With the crowd exhausted and sweaty from over three hours of energetic, unrelenting rocking—not to mention battling security—Vedder and Co. backed up their two-decade-old reputation as godfathers of grunge.