XL Center – Hartford, Connecticut
May 15, 2010
Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward [TheRFW.com/blog/Garret]
Contributing Photographer – Andrew Wyatt [TheRFW.com/blog/DirtySanta]
It’s just one of those things.
Embarking on their 20th year together, grunge-rock legends Pearl Jam sauntered their way into Hartford in search of a reunion chalked full of melodic sound and unrelenting passion with those who know them better than anyone- their dedicated fans.
Wine bottle in hand, gracious frontman Eddie Vedder swung around the microphone stand with an overzealous swagger that never seems to get old even though the man himself is cresting into middle age.
“It’s a little bit early to be breaking microphones,” he said after knocking down the stand. “But, I guess it’s going to be one of those nights.”
Always the political thorn in the sides of injustice with his rebellious remarks and socially conscious lyrics, Vedder commands a loyalty (as seen during “Do The Evolution”) unmatched in the rock industry. He is the last vestige of what rock and roll truly means and what ways one’s power can be used for progress and change- instead of personal gain and excess.
Playfully consuming the wine and lighting a cigarette, he wanders around the sides of the stage during “Even Flow”. While the band merged the tune into an eardrum-busting jam session (Stone Gossard and Mike McCready are still two of the most underrated guitarists in the scene), Vedder salutes each section of the arena with the bottle, casually talking to fans in the front row and pointing to those (with an endless grin) in the nosebleed tiers.
This is the essence of Vedder.
What he represents to Generation X is what Mick Jagger represents to the Baby Boomers. It is a musician who you grew up with, a musician who is at every juncture of your life, for good or ill, with a welcoming musical handshake.
By waving and smiling at those who shared in the ups and downs of the last two decades, Vedder gives the listener a piece of mind, almost as if saying, “damn, we’ve been through a lot, and there is still a lot more to go, but here we are and we’re going to be alright, for tonight at least.”
Soccer moms smoking joints. Football dads drinking beers. The “forever young” feeling echoing throughout the performance (“Dissident”, “Jeremy”, “Alive”) is a testament to the emotion the group conjures so seamlessly. The audience looks to the band as an outlet to a world they once knew, they once felt they could conquer, but now a dusty memory hanging on a living room wall.
It is not a nostalgia thing, rather a continuing quest by Pearl Jam to showcase the innocence and reality of a world sometimes lost in its own frantic pace and inconsequential priorities.
Hushing the raucous venue, “Just Breathe” caused a lump in my throat. My eyes began to slightly water. I thought of my (now ex) girlfriend- a soulmate no matter the outcome of our lives apart or together. The acoustic beauty was our song in a once happy relationship, now only visible in my memory. Each verse evoked innumerable images in my mind of a girl who will always have a firm grip on my heart.
It is another piece of the Pearl Jam catalog in which we have applied to a certain corner of our lives. It is another crossroads in the existence of those onstage and in the crowd where we not only look back on the past, but also push forward to the future with the confidence bestowed upon us night after night by five guys from Seattle.
Unthought Known, Corduroy, Do The Evolution, Got Some, Severed Hand, Dissident, Low Light, Amongst The Waves, Even Flow, Nothingman, Johnny Guitar, I Got Id, Jeremy, Daughter / W.M.A., Satan’s Bed, Lukin, Gonna See My Friend