By: Andrew Bruss
Eddie Vedder :: 08.01.08 :: Opera House :: Boston, Mass
Eddie Vedder's sold out set at Boston's Opera House gave every die-hard Pearl Jam fan a night they'll never forget. Vedder's first of two nights in Boston kicked off a brief run of solo performances throughout the greater Northeast region, offering up clever renditions of rare covers, a handful of tracks off his Into The Wild soundtrack, as well as some Pearl Jam classics that were given the intimate touch of being performed by one man and his guitar.
Vedder chose to inaugurate the night's event with his take on Daniel Johnston's "Walking The Cow," a tune Johnston performs on an organ, but was adapted by Vedder for six strings. As Vedder began working through his material, surprisingly, the crowd stayed seated.
Pearl Jam fans are known for their intense and intimate knowledge of the group's extensive back catalog, and it seems like whenever Vedder makes a setlist, every song, and every word is known by an extensive amount of attendees. This reality was highlighted during a performance of "Man of the Hour," a lesser known Pearl Jam tune that has only been released on the soundtrack to Tim Burton's Big Fish, as well as one of the groups greatest hits albums.
As he talked about a recent medical issue, he began to trail off and told the audience, "What I'm trying to tell you is that I'm on drugs." As unorthodox as this may seem, in no way did this come off as unprofessional. Pearl Jam fans truly love Eddie Vedder and there is a true connection that is authentically reciprocated by the man, and as a result, the walls between artist and fan are broken down. Vedder's mood, his music and his words are all felt by his fans as though taking place in an intimate conversation.
You could tell he was a bit geeked out, and on one song he noted after a false start, "Some songs are harder to play on drugs than others." But, his set remained consistent in its emotional intensity, and Vedder brought the formal segment to a close with Pearl Jam classic "Porch."
Eddie Vedder by Dave Vann|
He returned to the stage to an adoring crowd to play "Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In a Small Town," but what truly made the encore was the closer. The curtains closed following an emotionally riveting performance of "Arc" off Riot Act. The tune featured Vedder singing a meditative chant that he gradually began to loop over and over. The song has been said to be Vedder's tribute to the fans that died at the Roskilde Festival in 2000. Tragedy struck when nine attendees were trampled to death as fans rushed the stage, and, ever since, the group has been known to rarely perform before general admission crowds. Given the intensity of Vedder's feelings on this subject, the song came off as more than just another tune. As Vedder chanted and squeezed his eyes shut, he poured his heart out, and it seemed like he was in a deep trance, connecting with his fallen fans and keeping their memory alive in his own way.
As the curtain fell, the audience refused to clear out. The lights stayed dim, and chants for "Eddie" grew louder by the minute. Finally, Vedder returned to the stage, with opening act Liam Finn (see JamBase's review of Finn's stunning debut here) to perform "Hard Sun," quiet possibly the most popular tune off Into The Wild.
After a powerful set, with an encore that left his audience speechless, Vedder had returned to the stage, effectively raising the bar that much higher, and bringing the quality of the performance from mesmerizing to legendary. The energy in the crowd was through the roof, and everyone in attendance understood that they had just been a part of something special. With Vedder, it's not just about the tunes, it's about the connection, and on the first night of his solo tour, the bond he forged was one that truly showed his prowess as both a performer and as one man with nothing but gratitude for his audience.
Eddie Vedder is on tour now, dates available here.
JamBase | Massachusetts
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