Pearl Jam delivers memorable performance at ‘The Joe’Written by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
DETROIT – What did children, teens, 20-somethings, 30-somethings, 40-somethings and card-carrying senior citizens have in common on Oct. 16 in Southeast Michigan?
The lot of them descended upon 19 Steve Yzerman Drive on the banks of the Detroit River to see yet another unforgettable performance at the Motor City’s beloved and soon to be demolished Joe Louis Arena. Only this time, it was not on the wings of a Red Wings victory.
Instead, young and old came together Thursday night at “The Joe” to witness one of music’s most influential bands of the last 20 years rock through a diverse, compelling, high energy show that lasted nearly three hours and won’t soon be forgotten in “The D.”
That band was Pearl Jam, which delivered a set so tight and energetic that one in attendance might have thought it was 1994 and not 2014.
In their first ever performance at Joe Louis Arena, Pearl Jam gave fans in attendance everything from hits like “Alive,” “Better Man,” “Black,” “Even Flow” and “Once,” to fan favorites like “Release,” “Corduroy,” “Indifference” and “Dissident,” to more obscure jams like “Lukin,” “Black, Red, Yellow,” “Oceans” and “Comatose.” All the while, Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder paid homage to Detroit throughout the set.
Vedder had very kind words to say about Detroit’s own Jack White, whom he called a friend of the band and a visionary. White’s keyboardist Isaiah “Ikey” Owens passed away on Tuesday, and Pearl Jam paid tribute with “Light Years.”
The Detroit praise continued on “Black, Red, Yellow,” which Vedder said was about his friend Dennis Rodman, an NBA Hall of Famer and former Pistons championship player. Vedder also got roars from the crowd after giving a shout out to another hall of famer – this one of the NHL variety – in friend and former Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios, who was in attendance.
Additionally, Pearl Jam gave nods to Detroit’s rich rock history. The band played the main riffs from Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” during “Black, Red, Yellow,” as well as KISS’ “Detroit Rock City” as a lead in to “Spin The Black Circle.” Near the end of the show, the Seattle rockers went into full blown tribute mode with “Kick Out The Jams” from Detroit punk trailblazers MC5, sending the crowd into a tizzy.
Pearl Jam opened the night with slow build sing-along songs “Release,” “Oceans” and “Nothingman,” then shifted Detroit into high gear with “Go,” “Mind Your Manners,” and a taste of The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” before launching into “Corduroy.”
The band finally took a breath after “Corduroy,” with Vedder noting that it was one of the best sounding buildings Pearl Jam had played in awhile. He added that it must be the multitude of Red Wings championship banners hanging from the rafters, joking that “that’s why all the Seattle venues sound like sh*t.”
The band continued the positive vibes with “Lightning Bolt,” “Amongst the Waves” and “Even Flow,” the last of which saw guitarist Mike McCready deliver one of several memorable solos of the evening. McCready was complimented by the precise playing of fellow guitarist Stone Gossard, who also showed his chops on the likes of “Not For You” and “Do the Evolution.”
Vedder also displayed that his frantic onstage spirit has not dwindled with age. From playfully dumping wine into the crowd near the end of “Even Flow,” to climbing into the front rows during “Last Kiss” and smashing one of the large, dangling light fixtures that was part of the stage set during “Rearviewmirror” with his guitar, Vedder did everything short of scaling the rafters and diving into the crowd.
Meanwhile, bassist Jeff Ament and drummer Matt Cameron provided the steady backbone to the night’s memorable set, proving that they’re still one of the tightest rhythm sections in rock n’ roll. Longtime keyboardist Boom Gaspar didn’t go unnoticed by the faithful in attendance, as loud chants of ‘Boom!’ followed Vedder’s introduction of his fellow band mate.
The crowd did not fail to live up to its Detroit Rock City namesake, either. Nearly 20,000 strong sang the words to “Better Man” and “Black” in unison, while its energy during songs like “State of Love and Trust” and “Alive” gave Pearl Jam plenty to feed off of.
Coupled with moments like Vedder’s rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and a cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” Pearl Jam’s offering Thursday night was as diverse as its discography, one that has changed the face of modern music as we know it.
With a fan base that spans generations and a stage presence that’s arguably as compelling as any band performing today, it’s not inconceivable to think that Pearl Jam could still rock “The D” 20 years from now.
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