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May 14, 2010

Concert review: Pearl Jam at Jiffy Lube Live

eddie!Midnight Sun correspondent and JazzTimes editor Evan Haga saw Pearl Jam at Jiffy Lube Live last night. Here is his review:

When Pearl Jam emerged as part of the early '90s grunge hype, the band seemed like classic rockers among punk bands.

Part of the act had to do with diffidence or plain spite: The brooding lyrics and deadly serious demeanor; the love-hate relationship with commerciality and the limelight; that whole flannel-laden, one-with-the-people aesthetic.

But there was also plenty there for fans of '60s and '70s hard rock: Frontman Eddie Vedder's voice, a highly textured baritone that comes from the belly and can fill every nook of a large space, quickly became iconic; Stone Gossard and Hendrix-worshipping lead guitarist Mike McCready staked a claim as one of rock's great guitar tandems, making nightly arguments for the big riff and the extended solo when musical incompetence was cool.

Simply put, it was thoroughly son's music, but there was enough Aerosmith and Led Zep there to please Dad as well ...

Much of the group's terrific two-plus hours at Jiffy Lube Live last night suggested the opposite: a band of punk fury playing in an arena-rock atmosphere. They played more recent material, like "Got Some" and "World Wide Suicide," and older songs, like "Blood" and "Spin the Black Circle," that were bashing, direct and venomous.

Vedder took on punk's guise of the rock 'n' roll leftist intellect, quoting Kurt Vonnegut and sending one out to the late Howard Zinn, and, less gracefully, encouraging lobbyists for fundamentally corrupt finance outfits to kill themselves to "save the lives of others." (He quickly retracted the suicide bit and simply suggested they find work elsewhere.)

At other times the punk roots were made even plainer: Vedder talked about meeting Sex Pistol John Lydon at the prior night's Public Image Ltd. gig at 9:30 Club, and wore that band's T-shirt; as an encore, the band tackled the Dead Boys' "Sonic Reducer." (Vedder has made a hobby of referencing his inspirations from the rock underground. A more curious citation was Pearl Jam's intro music by Baltimore’s own Phil Glass; but, hey, My Morning Jacket uses Steve Reich.)

eddie!But it's hard to say how many of the straitlaced-looking fans who packed the 25,000-seat venue got the references, or, for that matter, sympathize with economic reform -- the cheers suggested they did, though Vedder's command is so overwhelming he could lead a mass naptime if he wanted to.

A lot about the show indicated business as usual for a massive touring act. The crowd was simply rabid -- it seemed as if thousands of mouths moved in unison with Vedder's throughout -- and the $35 T-shirts and $55 sweatshirts were readily available.

Onstage, McCready flicked picks into the audience and played behind his head, and, on "Even Flow," developed a solo that betrayed his years worshipping his own guitar heroes: He started with slow bends, worked a single lick to a fever pitch, faced his amp cabinet a la Jimi Hendrix and evoked Stevie Ray Vaughan with some full-handed groove playing.

The show ended with more Hendrix homages: The ballad "Yellow Ledbetter" and McCready's take on Jimi's take on "The Star-Spangled Banner." Of course, some of Pearl Jam's most engaging material has been its most meditative, and those songs constituted high points here: the surprising opener, "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town;" "Black," something of a vocal showcase on this night; "Just Breathe," one of Vedder's recent, more contented songs, and one that he fingerpicked and sang on like a born acoustic troubadour; and "Better Man," a favorite dedicated here to Sean Penn and his work in Haiti. ("This song is about an abusive relationship. I'm not dedicating that part to Sean, just the title," Vedder quipped.)

In the end, the equal measure of brains and brawn, the balance between the stadium and the nightclub, was mightily impressive. Perhaps even more convincing is how they obtained all this: by holding up live performance as a virtue, making a slight art form of the set list and, in the case of last night, playing past venue curfew with the house lights on, giving 'em what they came for until it was no longer possible.

(Eddie Vedder performs at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on May 1, 2010 in New Orleans. Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)


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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:04 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Concert reviews
        

Comments

Pearl Jam at Jiffy Lube? How is that not porn related?

The concert was absolutley awesome and cheap at $35 bucks for a lawn seat

KG28, You must have gotten your lawn seat from Stub Hub or some other secondary vendor b/c Pearl Jam has "sold-out" and set a $75 flat rate for all seats at all shows.

I'm a BIG fan and have seen them about a dozen and a half times over the past 15 years, but will not again unless they revert back to more affordable prices. After TM charges each ticket is over $90!!

For a band that used to rally against TM and preached against corporations at this very show, that's pretty F****D UP!!

Greg, I just saw them in Columbus and Cleveland and all seats were NOT a flat $75.. I chose to buy better, closer seats but many people I know paid $50 (or less) through Ticketmaster. I have seen them many times as well and I hate to break it to you but everything has gotten more expensive over the last 15 years. You can't expect PJ to continue to charge $30 a tickets anymore...it's not 1996.

Great great show, loved the deeper tracks and heavy yield setlist. PJ always delivers.
But theyve lost the fight in them to support the fans. Almost $90 a ticket is outrageous. The guy in the last row paying as much as the guy in the front row is pure greed.

" It's a disease and their all green"- EV

Greg S, not quite.

There was no "flat rate" for this tour. Lawn seats at the 2 amphitheater shows were cheaper ($20 something in Indy, $30 something at Jiffy Lube),.

Plus Columbus tickets were cheaper in the upper level. We paid $49 each from ticketmaster.

Dear god I pray for the day this band just...goes away. Boring, over-rated rehashed 70's rock packaged for today's unimaginative music "consumer." They were horrible when their first album came out, and they're still horrible. Blarf.

They really are so generic

I dont like much the type of Music Pearl Jam does, however there sure have some rabid fans that still follow them and like radiohead they have their own niche with in the music business. So good for them.

Ray

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at erik.maza@baltsun.com. Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.
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