Pearl Jam | PJ20 | Review | Pics

Words by: Ed Anderson | Images by: Jared Kelly

PJ20 :: 09.03.11-09.04.11 :: Alpine Valley :: San Francisco, CA

Full gallery for Saturday’s performances is directly below review, and you can jump to Sunday’s pics here!

Pearl Jam @ PJ20 by Jared Kelly
Saturday Night – Pearl Jam – Headlining Set

Having never seen Pearl Jam I naturally jumped at the opportunity to review their Saturday set at PJ20. It's not that I haven't wanted to hear them in the live setting, but I've just never really had the chance. And as expected, this would be a treat to the diehard - a night of rare tunes, collaborations, and even a mini-set by Temple of the Dog featuring none other than Chris Cornell.

Eddie Vedder is clearly the ringleader with 30,000+ hanging on his every word. As they took the stage, he welcomed the crowd to PJ20 and then proceeded to list off the other acts and how long they'd been playing music: "…and to The Strokes - 12, and Queens of the Stone Age - 14..." Truly a class act. They came out with “Release,” which is the last tune off of their first record, and it was an epic beginning to an amazing night of rock & roll. When the entire crowd sang the line "I'll ride the wave where it takes me," I found myself grinning ear to ear with goosebumps, and I knew that I was indeed in for a ride.

Pearl Jam @ PJ20 by Jared Kelly
Fans of the records No Code and Yield were certainly not disappointed with rocking versions of “Do the Evolution” and “Faithful” and the pounding rhythms of super-drummer Matt Cameron on “In My Tree” and “Who You Are.” Cameron and bass player Jeff Ament are the backbone of Pearl Jam. Those guys are a machine. They don't miss and provide the perfect bed for the guitar attack of Mike McCready and Stone Gossard and the unique vocals of Vedder. He can sing with a tender vibrato and then turn around and rip your head off with one of the coolest screams in rock. And listening to the crowd sing along, you have to acknowledge that the man can write a hook. His melodies are infectious and his words are engaging. It's the total package: killing band and great tunes.

Other highlights included a stellar version of “State of Love and Trust” with guest Dhani Harrison (son of Beatle George) and a tender delivery of the timeless tune “Breath.” Interestingly, both of the aforementioned songs were originally recorded in the Ten sessions. Other early tunes from Ten like “Deep,” “Once” and “Porch” were crowd pleasers to say the least, in fact, the volume and force of the call and response with the crowd on the first encore ender “Porch” was almost overwhelming. I've never actually been a part of anything like it before.

The only "hits" they played were “Not For You” (with awkward accompaniment by The Strokes’ frontguy) and “Better Man.” Other than that it was obscure album cuts, B-sides and 2 1/2 hours of energy. They closed the evening and second encore with the MC5's “Kick Out the Jams” featuring Mudhoney's Mark Arm on vocals – a fitting end to a fantastic ride.

We waited for the place to clear out, meandered to the parking lot, hung in the car and talked about what we’d just seen and heard. Pearl Jam delivered - big time - and I left Alpine smiling, knowing that rock & roll is indeed still alive and kicking.

Continue reading for pics from Sunday at PJ20...

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