To witness Pearl Jam in concert is truly a testament to the band's longevity.
The last band standing from the '90s alternative/grunge era that helped define a generation, Pearl Jam have never taken a break, broken up and gotten back together, or alienated their fans with bad business decisions.
Instead, the band has been the model of consistency, cultivating its own fan club, charging reasonable ticket prices, and playing long concerts night after night.
For those who attended last night's show at Quicken Loans Arena, they saw a band play until the venue turned on the house lights and forced them offstage.
With blue hues dimly lighting the stage, Eddie Vedder and the band broke into “Wash,” a rarely played fan favorite and Ten B-side, to open the concert. The song choice was indicative of the rest of the set, as Pearl Jam delighted a crowd of 12,000-plus fans, splattering the nearly two-and-a-half-hour concert with rarities and hits that spanned the band’s 20-year catalog.
The show was heavy on familiar songs like “Corduroy,” “Go,” “Even Flow,” and “Daughter,” mixing with tracks from the band’s latest album, last year's Backspacer.
Songs were stretched and jammed out accordingly, with guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard battling bassist Jeff Ament as the trio raced around the stage. The set came to a climax with “Why Go,” which erupted with Matt Cameron feverishly banging his drums as small, bright LEDs on the tip of his drumsticks traced his every movement.
After a short break, the band returned for the first of two encores by wishing their mothers a happy Mother’s Day. The gesture showed the band’s softer side, but the very next song, "Porch,” hit the opposite side. With McCready toying with his guitar and eliciting demonic tones, and Vedder howling the words with pointed intensity, the song evolved into a mad jam that lasted several minutes, until Vedder ended it by throwing his guitar into his mic stand as the rest of the band walked offstage.
It didn’t take long for the band to return again, as the energy carried over into the second encore, highlighted by favorites “Black” and “Alive” and a cover of the Who’s “Real Me.”
But the real treat was “Smile,” which was requested by a fan holding a sign. Vedder played harmonica, and the rest of the band switched instruments (except Cameron, who stayed put behind his drums).
The night's final song, “Indifference,” was poetically performed with the house lights on, showing everyone in attendance that, for at least a few hours, we can all still remember the importance of the music that helped shape an era. —Aaron Mendelsohn