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Pearl Jam at GM Place

Eddie Vedder with Pearl Jam in Vancouver concert photo

Pearl Jam at GM Place, Vancouver, Sept 25 2009. Jessica Bardosh photo.

Review and photos – Pearl Jam at GM Place, Vancouver, Sept 25 2009

– review by Shawn Conner/photo by Jessica Bardosh

For this reviewer, Pearl Jam is like someone you’ve been kind of attracted to for a long time but, for whatever reason, it just hasn’t happened. And if it hasn’t by now, it’s not going to.

Last night’s Vancouver show, which Eddie Vedder said felt like “the real first night of the tour” (Pearl Jam played its Seattle hometown a few days before), was another date that led to a chaste goodnight kiss. Yes, the band rocked it, yes it pulled out all the stops – reaching back to its debut for “Alive”, playing two encores, facing the crowd behind the stage for a song, bringing out opener Ben Harper for another, playing even after the houselights had come on and the GM Place staff was wishing everyone would just go the fuck home so they could get on with their lives.

But, with a terrible sound mix that left everything behind Vedder’s all-powerful voice a muddy mess, it was not a show that was going to lead to that “you’re the one for me, at least for now” moment.

Now, before Pearl Jam fans get all bent out of shape, it was a great show in a lot of ways, as rousing anthem gave way to rousing anthem. This is as arena-savvy as a band can be, and Vedder, along with Mike McCready, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, and Matt Cameron (and, sitting in on keyboards, Boom Gaspar) know how to keep the audience energy high, from the front rows to the cheap seats. It’s not only in the way the setlist peaks and valleys, but also in how Vedder acknowledged Vancouver’s beloved hockey team, the Canucks, as well as Canadian hero and cancer victim Terry Fox (apparently, the band is donating $20,000 from the show towards the Terry Fox Foundation).

Pearl Jam at GM Place, Sept 25 2009. Jessica Bardosh photo

Pearl Jam at GM Place, Sept 25 2009. Jessica Bardosh photo

Flying the flannel as though it was still 1992, Vedder is still the most casually, just-off-the-surfboard charismatic man in rock, and he was in fighting form. One of the most thrilling moments of the night was when he hit the first big dramatic moment in “Love Reign O’er Me”, the old Who song saved for the encore.

The song selection kept most of GM Place on its feet, with Pearl Jam fans waving their arms in the air and singing along for two hours – though never as spine-chillingly as on “Better Man”. Other notables included “The Fixer”, the first single of the new Backspacer album; a rather brilliant “Given to Fly” (still love that song!); the do-you-remember-the-’90s-yes-I-do “Even Flow”; “Last Kiss” (the encore song played for the behind-the-stage fans), “Life Wasted”; and, to end the set, a roaring version of “Rearviewmirror”.

Pearl Jam at GM Place, Sept 25 2009. Jessica Bardosh photo

Pearl Jam at GM Place, Sept 25 2009. Jessica Bardosh photo.

For the majority of people at GM Place, the whole Pearl Jam show was a massive communal freak-out. The band too seems reinvigorated by Backspacer, its first in three years, and the group shows no sign of losing any of its ferocity or passion. Kinda makes me wish I’d made a move early on, but what can you do.

Pearl Jam setlist – Vancouver Sept. 25 2009:

In My Tree, Save You, The Fixer, Severed Hand, Johnny Guitar, Given To Fly, MFC, Even Flow, Amongst The Waves, Sad, Unthought Known, Light Years, Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town, Grievance, No Way, Got Some, Rearviewmirror

1st encore: I Got Shit, Love, Reign O’er Me, Breath, State Of Love And Trust, Alive

2nd encore: Last Kiss, Indifference w/ Ben Harper, Wasted Reprise, Better Man, Yellow Ledbetter

11 responses to “Pearl Jam at GM Place

  1. 11 years ago  

    good stuff!! glad to hear Pearl Jam can still ROCK! their playlist for the show you went to sounds awesome. wow! 5 yrs and they are still pulling out good shows and 2 encores!! yep, Pearl Jam is only getting better.

  2. 11 years ago  

    Had the pleasure of being at this show last night. Was an amazing set list, and the crowd was electrifying. Was clearly personalized to Vancouver, donating 20 grand to the home town beloved Terry Fox Foundation. A true class act. These guys are aging like fine wine. One of the best shows I have ever been to.

  3. 11 years ago  

    Vedder was great, I thought the setlist was excellent.

    Here it comes…..

    But, Pear Jam really needs to work on there sound. I was not behind the stage and I found the sound to be muddy. The only time it wasn’t muddy was when Vedder was talking. I have seen many, many concerts in gm place and have seen Pearl Jam here and in Seattle and I must say that as far as sound quality goes this was one of the worst. I had a great time though becaue the Vancouver crowd blew the doors off the joint as usual. WTG Vancouver.

  4. 11 years ago  

    I agree completely about the terrible sound mix. I’ve heard GM Place was bad for sound, and I’ve seen PJ 5 diff times and thought they sounded great, so I figured it was the stadium… maybe they just had really shitty sound mixing afterall?

  5. 11 years ago  

    Muddy sound?! Listen, if you want to avoid the muddy sound that tends to happen in arenas or pretty much ANYWHERE loud, distortion based music is played… BRING EAR PLUGS! I know, you don’t want to be the “un-cool” one wearing plugs…but try it!… you’ll find that it instantly cuts out the muddiness and all you hear is the great tones that are meant to be heard. Get ones with a relatively low decibal blockage, you still want to hear the person beside you exlaim “is this f**king awesome or what?!”

  6. 11 years ago  

    what a great show on of the best of four times that i have seen them
    as for the record on touring they have never really stopped check out there website tenclub.com and it has all tour dates and places

  7. 11 years ago  

    first tour in 5 years? please do some research before writing your review!

    since 2004 they’ve played all over the world; vote for change in 2004, canada, us and south america in 2005.

    a record and world tour in 2006 that covered the us, europe and australia.

    european festivals, bonaroo, lollapolloza and various us dates from 2007-2008…………

  8. 11 years ago  

    You sir are correct! Thanks for the head’s-up. I figured finding out the name ‘Boomer Gaspar’, plus listening to the new album, was enough in the research dept but obviously not. As an aside, my only Eddie Vedder story is the time I approached Robert Pollard in the bowels of a Seattle club after he had just played a show with his band Guided by Voices. A drunken Pollard was talking to a bemused Vedder. “I’m gonna call it, ‘From a Compound Eye’,” Pollard was saying, talking about his upcoming solo album. Eddie just nodded.

  9. 11 years ago  

    Yeah, forgot to mention the Terry Fox thing (went back and included it). The band is a class act… although that Target deal is a bit dubious.

  10. 11 years ago  

    There was no insertion of “Save It For Later” into “Better Man.” Vedder did that when the band played in Vancouver in 2003, but not this time.

  11. 11 years ago  

    the target thing is great-

    kids/fans nowhere near a mom and pop record shop can find the record, not to mention not having to deal with some snotty holier than thou hipster prick at the sales counter…

    i bought rem’s document on cassette, at target, in 1987, as a 12 year old…………..

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