And Now For The Pearl Jam Show

Pearl Jam recording in Seattle.

If it's not one thing it's another. Experimental ticket agencies,

out of the way venues and, on this particular night, a chilling pre-show rain

storm. Some would say Pearl Jam asks too much of their fans and that may be

true, but when Eddie and the boys took the stage to the thunderous approval of

the 26,000 in attendance Wed. night (Oct. 2) at The Meadows Music Theatre in

Hartford, Connecticut, all was forgiven. For two hours the crowd got just what

it wanted. The piercing guitar riffs of Stone Gossard and Mike McCready, the

on-stage aerobics of bassist Jeff Ament and, of course, the voice that has come

to mean so much to so many. With the audience singing along to every song, the

band performed a diverse set list. While much of the attention was expected to

be paid to Pearl Jam's latest album, No Code, the band ended up playing

only about half of the album's tracks. Anyone who was afraid that the group's

early hits would be omitted was pleasantly surprised. "Black," "Evenflow," and

"Daughter" were all received with open arms, perhaps even a sense of relief (it

just wouldn't be the same if they didn't play "Alive" now would it?). Even the

original version of "Jeremy" made an appearance. All were played with the

ferocity that the group's fans have come to expect. The new songs sounded tight

and were performed with the type of energy that only new material can provide.

The band opened its vault for a few rarities ("Footsteps," "State of Love" and

"Trust") as well. With the suddenly introspective, dare we say mature, Eddie

Vedder clutching the microphone stand for dear life, and Ament and Gossard

pacing in the background, the group had the audience in the palm of their hand

from the outset. They carried the crowd gently and honestly through the night.

Pearl Jam relies on very few tricks for its performances. The lighting was

subtle but very effective. The band brought out a mirror ball, some candles,

even a lava lamp. A definite mood was created but the focus was clearly on the

band and its music, not the event itself. Pearl Jam closed the show with the

graceful b-side "yellowleadbetter." As the crowd sung and swayed it was clear

that all they went through to get here was a small price to pay for a night

like this.