Amazing. Absolutely amazing.
Last night, Pearl Jam and Sleater-Kinney put on a brilliant show at The Aud. It all started unexpectidly when Eddie Vedder came out on stage while the house lights were still on with nothing but an acoustic guitar and performed a rendition of the Beatles’ “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”. Following that, he introduced Sleater-Kinney. The Aud was just beginning to fill up as S-K took to the stage but that was fine with me. They stuck mostly with songs from One Beat and the new album, The Woods. Dena and Nat weren’t really into S-K and I didn’t really expect them to be; not really part of their musical palette (I’m still amazed, after all this time, that I managed to get Dena to like the Pixies and such). So they spent most of their set buying PJ merch. I, on the other hand, did enjoy S-K‘s performance and concluded that they have much more of a “kick” live than on their recordings. Speaking of kick, Carrie Brownstein was pulling off some impressive Bob Pollard-style kicks. Corin Tucker name dropped “the K Dub” (local vernacular for the combination of the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo), so they obviously did their homework, which was nice to see. They ended their set with a rocktacularly long jam-style version of “Let’s Call It Love”.
By the time Pearl Jam made their way onto the stage, the The Aud was packed. The crowd was varied to say the least; old people, young people, really young people, preppies, jocks, indie geeks, alterna rockers, cougers, old metalheads (in Timmins, these people were known as “tekkers”), princesses, Canadians, Americans…basically everyone and anyone. I thought they would open fast, but they took it slow with “The Long Road” from Merkin Ball, which I didn’t immediately recognize (it’s been a while) . I enjoyed all of the new stuff, particularily “Save You” from Riot Act. But strangely, it didn’t really hit me until I heard the famous opening bass line from “Jeremy” that I was actually seeing Pearl Jam. I was instantly transported back to highschool, doing homework on the floor of my bedroom with Ten blaring on my wimpy Sanyo stereo. And then when they kicked off their second encore with “In My Tree” from No Code, I instantly recalled being at Pat‘s house the day that No Code was released, trying to sell the fact to Pat, Lee Hannigan, Kevin Chellew or anybody that would listen how amazing of a song that “In My Tree” is.
Eddie was suprisingly talkative thoughout the evening. Maybe the bottle of wine that he kept at his side had something to do with it 😉 Of course he leans to left, so he did a lot of praising of Canada’s policies, as most US bands tend to do when they’re here. He got in digs against Bush and US foreign policies as often as he could. For some reason, he chose to pick on Edmonton (all in fun, of course) and played to the Kitchener crowd, who replied with chants of “Eddie, Eddie”. In a wry display of on-the-fly wit, Eddie came back with “What? Is that a nickname for Edmonton that I’m not aware of?”. Clever 😉 Prior to the first encore, Eddie introduced us to Luke the Uke (his ukelele). And Mike McCready was a mad man. He was all over the stage, in the crowd and playing his guitar behind his head; I didn’t expect that kind of energy at all but it was great to behold. To me, they looked exactly like a “professional” rock band should. They did everything right. It’s akin to comparing NHL and AHL players and PJ proved that they were part of the NHL of rock. Speaking of hockey, Eddie even managed to name-drop Luc Robitaille and Chris Chelios.
For the last two songs of their second encore, they turned the house lights back on in The Aud. I thought this was a nice way to end the show, as you can see everything; the band (of course), all of their gear and their entire crew. Very kewl.
To add a little bit of geekiness to this, PJ offer digital bootlegs of all of their concerts on this Canadian tour – somewhat like the Pixies did last fall. However, they are only available as 192 Kbps MP3 downloads instead of a conventional CD, but they’re available within a few hours after the show ended. All of this is done using a Java Web Start app that handles purchasing and downloading. Also included in the downloads are a slew of JPGs from the concert. All of this is only $10, which I think is a good deal.
Overall, PJ‘s performance was top-notch. They culled material from all of their albums and even reached into some b-sides and soundtrack stuff from Big Fish. I was hoping to hear some new material from their upcoming album, but they didn’t play any for whatever reason. I wasn’t disappointed in any way, though. For a band that chose to do things their way, forgoing any marketing and having two recent albums that barely caused a blip commercially (I think Riot Act is superb) it didn’t show last night. They had those of us in audience in the palm of their hands for the entire evening.
Here’s PJ‘s setlist from last night: The Long Road, Last Exit, Animal, Save You, Do The Evolution, Given To Fly, Loveboat Captain, Corduroy, Insignificance, Gimme Some Truth (John Lennon cover), Faithful, Jeremy, Even Flow, Leatherman, Habit, Blood, Soon Forget
1st Encore: Can’t Keep, Man Of The Hour, Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town, Daughter/W.M.A., Black, Alive
2nd Encore: In My Tree, Indifference, Betterman, Baba O’Riley (Who cover), Yellow Leadbetter