Pearl Jam by Joshua Grafstein 1


The last time I saw Pearl Jam was a little more than 10 years ago, and in the intervening time, very little seems to have changed for the veteran grunge outfit. The band’s live show still consists of the same five dudes playing three hours’ worth of no-bones-about it rock ‘n’ roll; even the old guy backing them on keyboards was the same.

Judging by the age of the audience, most of the folks who packed Rogers Arena were the same ones who were there a decade ago. They lost their shit when the house lights went down, and almost everyone in the room remained standing throughout the entire set — even during the low-key portion of the show when the musicians sat on stools for a few acoustic numbers.

Pearl Jam by Joshua Grafstein 2The band played a generous selection of tunes from throughout their catalogue plus a few covers, and frontman Eddie Vedder dedicated a solo rendition of the Velvet Underground’s “After Hours” to the late Lou Reed.

For the most part, the set highlights were the band’s early hits: “Corduroy” tore the house down, and Vedder reminisced about Pearl Jam’s first-ever Vancouver gig at the Town Pump before a blistering version of “Even Flow.” That being said, even the deep cuts went over well, and a woman standing behind me shrieked, “Fuck yeah!” when the group launched into “Setting Forth” from Vedder’s Into the Wild soundtrack.

The performance was largely a no-frills affair that emphasized music over showmanship, although Vedder used a low-hanging light fixture to swing dizzyingly above the first few rows during a jammed out version of “Porch.” At other points in the night, he stole moves from the Who’s bag of tricks, swinging his microphone like Roger Daltrey and slashing his guitar with windmill strums à la Pete Townshend.

During the second half of the insanely long double encore (which was almost as long as the main portion of the set) the band played the ’90s favourite “Do the Evolution” — an ironic choice considering how little Pearl Jam seems to be concerned with evolving. But as this show proved, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

By Lerny di Novato-Deloitte
Photos by Joshua Grafstein  

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