Live Review: Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam — Terrace Theater, Long Beach
Thu, 07 Jul 2011 08:40:01
Eddie Vedder remains a visionary.
However, he's not just sequestered to the early '90s music revolution he helped ignite. In fact, the world needs Vedder now more than ever. Our pop culture is plagued by a fear of taking risks. Style rules over substance in modern music, movies, television, books, and nearly every other "popular" art form under the sun.
Vedder comes from a day when a guitar and some lyrics could change the world, and it's utterly breathtaking to witness him entertain a crowd for over two hours with nothing more than a ukulele, a few guitars, and the voice that started it all. That's exactly what he did last night for a packed crowd at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach. Undoubtedly, most of the attendees went home and picked up a guitar or a pen with revolution on the brain, and it's a testament to how inspiring Vedder is.
The curtain covering the stage rose slowly, revealing a handful of guitar stands and various vintage props. It felt nothing short of magical as Vedder began furiously strumming "Can't Keep" on his ukulele. He strummed so fast that his soul bled through the notes, and he perfectly delivered the song's immortal words, "You can't keep me here". As soon as he finished the tune, audience roars shook the venue before he could even speak.
With a wide grin, he said, "In 20 years, I've never said these next three words, 'Hello, Long Beach!' It's good to be in the LBC. I'm going to keep moving here, but I'm grateful".
"Sleeping By Myself" from his fantastic new solo offering, Ukulele Songs, carried a melancholic whimsy as Vedder told a story of love lost on the verse. His voice resounded as powerfully and clearly as it does on classic Pearl Jam recordings, but there's a raw energy that comes across live which is nothing short of invigorating. Vedder barely needed a microphone for other entrancing Ukulele cuts, "Without You" and "You're True".
"Longing to Belong" elicited a sing-a-long as Vedder plucked out the song's gorgeous verse. He picked up a Fender Stratocaster to more cheers, and he began playing Pink Floyd's "Brain Damage" shortly after the backdrop behind him switched to a classic cityscape. Vedder infused the song with his own poetic power, carrying the words with reverence and respect but adding a personal stamp. "Brain Damage" slipped into a potently poignant "Sometimes". The lyrics resonated as he strummed the electric guitar, giving space for each syllable to impact. He added to the final line, "Well, listen here, Dear God", and it was heavier than any amplifier in existence.
Riot Act classics "I Am Mine" and "Thumbing My Way" came to life vividly and vibrantly as Vedder uttered every line with undying conviction. A string quartet joined Vedder for Backspacer's "Just Breathe", imbuing the song with a cinematic elegance befitting of the singer's brilliant lyrical poetry. "Unthought Known" stood out as another incredible gem from Vedder, reinterpreted alone with the same power.
Vedder's take on The Who's "I'm One" and John Doe's "4th of July" both proved more than worthy by matching the same fearless spirit of the originals. In fact, placing these covers alongside Pearl Jam and Vedder originals, it's clear to see that he's firmly in the pantheon of rock legends forever. "Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town" transported everyone in attendance back to their childhood and those faces so "haunting, familiar."
The moment that proved most memorable and earth-shaking was Vedder's acoustic rendition of "Porch" from Ten. "Porch" itself is one of the greatest rock songs ever written, but it's even more mind-blowing live—and acoustic. Vedder tore through the riff passionately as the chorus rang out past Los Angeles, past Seattle, and into the heavens. It was an acoustic powerhouse.
In between all of this, Vedder cracked jokes, smiled, and laughed, engaging every sense during this musical journey. Still, things cycle back to his utterance of "listen here, Dear God" in "Sometimes". God did listen, and we got Vedder. He's still the best, and that will never change.
Were you there?
Check out our exclusive review of Ukulele Songs here!