Let me set the scene. It was 1995 and I was seeing Pearl Jam at the, now infamous, Sidney Myer Music Bowl gig. One of my top 5 gigs of all time!! I remember the crush when the fences came down. I remember thinking "I have never seen so many people in my life." But, most of all, I remember the music. They played one of the most amazing sets I have ever seen and I have forever been changed because of it.
Fast forward to 14 years, 6 albums and countless tours later, I decide that I am going to see Pearl Jam one last time. I hadn't seen them since '95 and I wondered whether they'd still be any good. Turns out they are.....if not, better.
But firstly, Ben Harper. Although his later stuff hasn't touched me like his earlier work, I was keen to see him with his new band, the Relentless 7. Their album 'White Lies For Dark Times' is a bit of a departure from the old surfie rock thing that we are used to from Mr Harper. It has a bit more bluegrass country feel that isn't unfamiliar, but easily recognizable as a Ben Harper CD......just a bit different. So, point of the story is, I was interested to see how the dynamic would change. Turns out it it's still Ben Harper, but with a bit more "edge." He/they were fantastic and definitely a great kick start to the night.
HIGHLIGHTS: Diamonds On The Inside and the rendition of 'Under Pressure' (by David Bowie and Queen) featuring Eddie Vedder was probably the highlight of the entire night. I bloody love that song!!!
So, onto Pearl Jam. Basically what I was saying before is I had decided that this would be the last time I would see Pearl Jam. Basically closing the book on my childhood. As you can imagine they played just about all of their hits that I had grown up on. Also, they played quite a bit of their newer stuff including quite a few tracks off 'Backspacer'. I was interested to see how these would hold up against hits like 'Daughter' or 'Even Flow' but, it turns out, they slot in mighty nicely.
Eddie Vedder's voice was spot on all night long. I have seen quite a few live DVDs and heard some live CDs that would point to the contrary. But, on this night, he was like the Vedder of old. Touching on the heart strings with songs like 'Black' and 'Oceans' while devastating you eardrums on killer tracks 'Spin The Black Circle' and 'Do the Evolution'. I was absolutely amazed!! Add to that Mike Mcready's awesome guitar solos and Matt Cameron absolutely punishing the drums, and this gig goer was just about wetting himself.
I could go on and on about how good they were, but I'm gonna stop myself before I fall too deeply into fanboydom. But let me just say that Pearl Jam have always been really good to their fans. They've always tried to keep ticket prices low, safety is always top priority and, on this night, they even played 3-4 songs after the Etihad Stadium house lights went on( see photo). So, the 30,000+ people definitely got their moneys worth. Thanks guys!!!
You know how I said that this would be the last time I would ever see Pearl Jam?? By concert's end, I surrendered to the fact that I would be seeing them again. How could I not?? They were simply amazing!!! Please come back soon guys......please?? I'm sorry I ever doubted you.