Pearl Jam | 06.30.08 | Mansfield

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Words by: Andrew Bruss | Images by: Dave Vann

Pearl Jam :: 06.30.08 :: Comcast Center :: Mansfield, MA

The Pearl Jam
The final performance of Pearl Jam‘s North American tour in Mansfield reverberated with a preternatural energy that could be felt from the front of the stage to the back of the lawn. The pseudo-messianic vibe frontman Eddie Vedder emitted had the crowd under a hypnotic frenzy for two full hours, with hands clapping, fans chanting and people singing along while they waited in line for the can.

Pearl Jam has always had a rare bond with their audience, and with good reason. They’ve gone to the ends of the earth through fan club ticket sales and anti-trust law suits against Ticketmaster to ensure that their fans get the best seats in the house with as little service charges as possible. In addition, the appreciation and admiration the group demonstrates onstage towards their audience plays a big part in building this bond.

After five minutes of hearing the audience chant their name, Pearl Jam took the stage to “Wash” off 2003’s Lost Dogs. They followed up with “Last Exit,” and as they worked their way deeper into the set, they kicked out fan fave “Even Flow” off their 1991 debut, Ten. The tune’s highlight was a lengthy jam between Mike McCready (lead guitar), and Jeff Ament (bass). As McCready and Ament went buck wild, Vedder chilled side-stage and worked on a bottle of red wine. At times, the improvisation seemed a bit lengthy and lacking in focus, but their technical proficiency and enthusiasm in each note helped take things to a higher level. As the jam wrapped up, Vedder dove back to center stage, tossing his now-empty bottle aside as he howled through the final chorus of “Even Flow” like the beastly rock god that he is.

The group continued to work through the set before closing with one of their mainstream hits, “Do The Evolution.” As Vedder drove the crowd wild from atop a stack of monitors, his overwhelming stage presence couldn’t help but verify that he is one of the greatest frontmen of our time, surpassing Tool‘s Maynard James Keenan, Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke and Dave Matthews in sheer showmanship and raw charisma.

Following a six-song encore that closed with “Why Go,” Pearl Jam returned to the stage for a coup de grace that started with “No More” then worked through “Once” before reaching an astounding crescendo with the 1-2 punch of “Alive” and Neil Young‘s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Their performance of the tune with Young at the 1993 MTV Video Awards established Young as the “Godfather of Grunge,” and showed the world that Pearl Jam was more than just another greasy haired group from Seattle that record labels were force feeding FM radio.

By the end of the night, their performance at the Comcast Center left fans in an ear-ringing haze that many may still be coming out of. And for anyone who hadn’t been exposed to the group before the show, odds are they left the venue a newly baptized Pearl Jam fan.

Pearl Jam :: 06.30.08 :: Comcast Center :: Mansfield, MA
Set I: Wash, Last Exit, Save You, Severed Hand, Animal, MFC, Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town, 1/2 Full, Corduroy, Given To Fly, Even Flow, Education, Satan’s Bed, Whipping, Glorified G, Do The Evolution
Encore I: Bee Girl, Who You Are, Better Man (Save it for Later), Garden, Why Go
Encore II: No More, Once, Footsteps, Alive, Rockin’ In The Free World

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