Pearl Jam / Idlewild

Wembley Arena, London on Mon 18th Jun 2007

The tickets for tonight’s show are like hen’s teeth. I stupidly bid on some last minute on ebay, and won. Still in shock and wondering if they would turn up in time/are they fake etc I am delighted to say that they are legit, front row side view tickets. The best you can get, after the shambles of the Ten Club standing tickets sales. I am not saying what I paid, just that I could have funded a months worth of gigs.

After strolling around Wembley Stadium for an hour trying to get in, we realise it is in the smaller arena next door. One look on the precious tickets would have cleared that up, but as we are Northerners we are new to the option of two very large venues sat next to each other.

I am struggling to see why the band voted as the best rock band in the world (this may be out of date, but check record sales etc) have to play in the Arena when Muse get two shows in the Stadium. Surely Pearl Jam are a stadium act? The demand for tickets for this one-off UK show backs this up. And the stadium is empty today.

Our seats are as good as I thought. We are a mere fifty metres from the stage to the right hand side, and don’t have to be pushed about down at the front (am I getting old?). Worth nearly every penny. Though the smoking ban is not in full swing just yet, the arena is non-smoking, even on the concourse, but you can get outside through one entrance, where a lot of people are for Idlewild’s performance.

It must be a hard job, opening for Pearl Jam. Idlewild give it their best, if appearing a little static on stage. They only have a half hour set, which for some of the disinterested PJ fans is long enough. The hits get a few people moving (‘El Capitan’, ‘No Emotion’) but it’s clear the crowd are here for one band only.

You can feel the anticipation crushing you. Not counting the Carling festivals last year, this is Pearl Jam’s first UK show in seven years, and the lucky ones here tonight can not wait. The queues for the bars are huge, as are the toilets; in fact it’s quite difficult to move about on the concourse. I remind myself that I have a seat, and can leisurely afford a little extra time to buy that limited edition PJ gig poster. As the rumble of music filters through the walls however, it’s a quick dash back to my seat to catch Eddie Vedder and friends kick into ‘Long Road’.

Helped along by Kenneth ‘Boom’ Gasper (who is rewarded with cheers of “Boom, Boom!”) and Pete from Cornwall who helps out on tour (but never gets the credit until now), the band look happy to be here. Vedder thanks those of us present at Reading and Leeds last year, who helped them gain the confidence to play again at festivals after their tragic past. He talks to the crowd like we are down the local having a pint; red wine in one hand, mic in the other.

The setlist is not to everyone’s liking, there’s only ‘Why Go’, ‘Alive’ and the greatest song ever ‘Porch’ from hit album ‘Ten’, the rest are from across their eight albums. For first time visitors to a Pearl Jam show, it may be hard to sing along. The place is lifted with voices however, especially from the lucky Ten Club fans in the mosh pit.

Treats for me are the rare ‘Lowlight’, that Vedder says was written by Jeff Ament for his lady, ‘State Of Love And Trust’ from the ‘Singles’ soundtrack and the last song before the first encore, ‘Porch’, with it’s huge build up during the guitar solo.

The band are as limber as ever; with Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament duelling instruments and bouncing around the stage. Matt Cameron keeps the pace with Boom Gasper, while Mike McCready is the driving force, with his astounding guitar solos (yes, there was a few bum notes to begin with but he sure made up for it), playing some behind and above his head.

Many eyes are on Vedder however, whose baritone vocals suck you in with their sheer power. Once again sporting the long locks that he had in the early nineties, the grunge kids are far from quitting, though they play as if they will never be on stage again. The huge gaps in touring may support this, but the return to the nineties sound with ‘World Wide Suicide’ and ‘Severed Hand’ mean they are far from losing their rock status.

Playing for two hours, with two encores, my highlights being ‘Immortality’, ‘Do The Evolution’, ‘Inside Job’ and set enders ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ and ‘Indifference’ (“Most of my lyrics are really bad, but these are my finest!” Vedder states). Once ‘Alive’ finishes and the guys walk off everyone thinks the show has finished, yet they surprise us by playing five more tracks (even though the house lights come on before the last two. How dare they!).

The sets are said to be chosen so that they vary every time, so any fan that sees their shows in a row gets a unique set. I am quite pleased with the songs; you know that they can play the hits anytime, but to see the rarities live is sometimes a one off, especially for the frequency of the tours.

Anyways I travelled to Rock Werchter for their last show of this tour, and it was a greatest hits set! Once you’ve seen Pearl Jam, you are hooked and want to see more; they’re like an addiction. The price of the ticket was worth every penny, and I would do it again.

Long Road
Severed Hand
Given To Fly
Low Light
I Got ID
Green Disease
Marker In The Sand
Present Tense
State Of Love And Trust
Why Go
Save You

Inside Job
Crazy Mary
Do The Evolution

No More
World Wide Suicide
Rockin’ in The Free World

article by: Danielle Millea

photos by: Danielle Millea

published: 19/06/2007 16:23


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