Four years, two months and four days…on the surface, it’s just the time that has passed since I last saw Pearl Jam – my undisputedly favourite band – live in Melbourne (note – will this contain any objective content? Maybe, but not a lot…)
Go deeper however and that time encapsulates a vast array of memories, experiences and events that have occurred – some amazingly exhilarating and unique, others that would have been better off never happening and simply being grateful that I am still able to do the things that make me happy.
Which brings us to the present day…and seeing Pearl Jam again, headlining at Big Day Out Melbourne. After checking out some of the other acts earlier in the day, there was a cosy few hours of waiting with others bustling towards the front of stage, just as keen and eager to see a few guys from Seattle on stage.
This time, close enough to make this seem like a much smaller affair and forget that there were hoards of people behind me ready to experience the juggernaut of Pearl Jam live. I didn’t even bother looking behind me, and why would I with everything I was witnessing on stage?
Promptly after Arcade Fire had left the adjacent orange stage, Pearl Jam arrived on the blue stage to an absolute roar. Unique set lists for each night is synonymous with experiencing Pearl Jam live, no time was wasted here in revealing that we’d be starting with Why Go, the crowd doing a fine job at drowning out vocals – a good sign of things to come and establishing the evening’s unstated mantra of sing it loud and proud – and that we did.
We got Save You, and the crowd shouted along to Getaway as passionately as they did to the older tunes, before beholding the intensity of eye gazes accompanying every lyric delivered from stage during Mind your Manners.
The unknown set list means everything is a mystery until it gets played, but Low Light was probably one of the biggest surprise of the night, followed by Setting Forth, apparently a request from Matt Cameron (awesome choice!)
Corduroy was undeniably a favourite gathering by the volume of participation. Then finally, after the unsurpassed Elderly Woman behind a Counter in a Small Town and Jeremy, the stirring Given to Fly came around and sent shivers up my spine – as always!
What could only be regarded as the most incredible crowd singalongs I’ve ever witnessed or partaken in over the years, Better Man was overruled by the crowd, needing only a few key guitar strums to guide the passionate lyrics bellowing in unison back to the stage.
It’s somewhat ironic that the words out of Eddie’s mouth at the conclusion of the verse and chorus was something along the lines of, ‘Thank you for that’ – surely it should have been us saying thank you, for the opportunity to take over, but also for including it in the evening’s set to allow such an incredible moment. Watching Eddie and Mike McCready jam later on in the song, and later expanding to include Stone and Jeff was intoxicating, witnessing that sort of joy is just a beautiful experience to witness.
Encore one bought with it the subdued Pendulum and Nothingman along with others, but encore two bought Pearl Jam with Mark Arm of Mudhoney taking it way back with Kick out the Jams. Loved it!
It was an amazing two hours that even though finishing on a high with Alive, passed much too quickly. There are more songs to hear, more jams and solos to watch, I want to do that again…oh wait, I am…bring on Sydney BDO!
Who knows what the next two hours of Pearl Jam goodness will bring.