At GM Place on Friday, September 25
Watch Pearl Jam perform "Alive" at GM Place on September 25, 2009.
Sure, every Pearl Jam album since 1996’s No Code has been listenable enough. But, compared to their first three groundbreaking releases—Ten, Vs., and Vitalogy—the Seattle protogrungers have pumped out some pretty redundant, irrelevant, and, dare I say, somewhat forgettable music. (Unless, of course, you listen to new rock radio 24/7, in which case, you need to be deprogrammed; let’s start with a no-more-’90s-at-noon intervention.) So why then is Pearl Jam so respected? Well, I got my answer at a sold-out GM place on Friday. It’s a combination of things, really.
As for the set list, Pearl Jam didn’t blow its grunge-era load all at once. Instead, the band spread its early hits throughout the show. Shortly after kicking out “The Fixer”, the first single from the new album, Backspacer, the group unleashed “Even Flow”. Unlike in the glory years, there was no stage-diving from the 44-year-old singer this evening, but it was still a worthy performance.
For the encore, Pearl Jam busted out a cover of “Love, Reign O’er Me”, and they did the Who proud with that one. Every throat-scorching “loooooooove” was more epic than the last. And they finished with “Alive”, a fitting sentiment for these survivors of a bygone genre. It was also a nice way to end the show. Except, surprisingly, they still had some juice left.
Pearl Jam came back for a second encore, serenading the budget seats behind the stage with “Last Kiss”. Then Ben Harper came out to sing a hauntingly beautiful version of “Indifference” with Vedder. Harper left, but PJ just kept going. Eventually, the lights came on, but Vedder was still singing. I don’t think he wanted to leave, and his adoring “neighbours to the north” didn’t seem to mind one bit, even if they’d stopped caring about Pearl Jam’s records right after Vitalogy.