Live Review: Pearl Jam – Los Angeles Sports Arena
Mon, 25 Nov 2013 08:05:17
To start night two of what will be remembered as a legendary stand at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder walked up to the mic and simply counted off.
A swaying strum of Stone Gossard and Mike McCready's guitars signaled the swell of "Oceans" as the entire venue roared in approval. Blue lights bathed the band as Matt Cameron held down a sweetly transcendent beat in tandem with Jeff Ament's rolling bass line. Vedder sounded divine as he delivered the Ten classic's gorgeous refrain. It was the most understated, yet epic and powerful opening to a downright unforgettable evening.
Rather than emulate their idols, Pearl Jam tapped into that indescribable mystique of the sixties and seventies and made it their own. It's as if they reached into the heavens for their own slice of ambrosia and shared it with an entire generation. That hasn't run out. If anything, it's more invigorating than ever.
For over three hours, the band held Los Angeles in the palm of its hands. There were moments of blissful poetry on "Low Light" and "Present Tense"—the latter punctuated by one of many countless brilliantly bluesy leads by McCready. At the same time, incalculable intensity marked "Corduroy", which crashed into a scorching metallic jam session. Vedder's schizophrenic screams during "My Father's Son" from this year's magnificent Lightning Bolt hit hard in the heart and the head, especially as he prefaced it by saying, "If you ever had a father who ended up in prison, this song's for you".
At the same time, he evinced genuine tenderness prior to a masterful "Given to Fly", "a fairy tale", which also continued to solidify the fact that Ament and Cameron are one of the best rock rhythm sections ever. Another Lightning Bolt gem, "Swallowed Whole", rode its own wave and carried the entire audience along on a spritely riff and the singer's hypnotic wail.
Vedder smiled before "Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town" saying, "This song is particularly for anyone from Reseda". The wistful ponderings of the lyrics emanated a timeless energy that coursed through the room as everyone sang along and Vedder simply conducted during the bridge.
An ode to "great couples we know", Lightning Bolt closer "Future Days" combined Boom Gaspar's lush keys with gentle acoustics and a heartfelt chorus, and Vitalogy swan song "Immortality" rose to the heavens on a furious fret-burning lead from McCready.
McCready and Gossard both deserve canonization as two of the greatest to pick up an axe. McCready churned out the "Even Flow" solo behind his back, while Gossard infused heavy metal ferocity into a rousing "Blood" from Vs., ending the first "set".
"Better Man" captured relationship angst better than most films guided by Vedder's immense vocal performance, while "Daughter" segued seamlessly into a jam on "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2". Vedder honored Lou Reed with a stunning and stirring cover of Velvet Underground's "After Hours". Another unearthed diamond, "Breath", tempered instrumental virtuosity and a soaring refrain, while "Go" practically caused an earthquake with its rumble and roll.
During "Porch", Vedder swung on a giant light bulb from the top of the ceiling, singing the final crescendo at the same time. It's love-torn letter rang out as potently as it did over twenty years ago when it was first cut to Ten.
"How many fucking songs does it take for a Pearl Jam concert to end," laughed Vedder. "The world will never know!"
He introduced the final movement of the show. The cover of "Last Kiss" exuded an eerie bliss as "Unthought Known" took off. A cover of The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me" got the entire room jumping, while "Alive" brought out smiles from the top of the rafters to the middle of the floor. "Rockin' in the Free World" gave a grooving send-off.
As the final distortion subsided, it was once again clear. Pearl Jam are the greatest American rock band ever. There's a lot to be thankful for this Holiday season, and we can be thankful the Seattle icons will never change.
See what Josh Brolin, Ethan Hawke, Duff McKagan, Corey Taylor of Slipknot & Stone Sour, System of a Down and more have to say about Pearl Jam here!
Pearl Jam's music is featured in the Relativity film "Out of the Furnace", in theaters December 6.