Pearl Jam @ Big Day Out Sydney – 26 Jan ’14

Two days after seeing Pearl Jam at the Big Day Out in Melbourne, it was Sydney’s turn…the pilgrimage of locals as well as interstate travellers based on the conversations overheard on the plane.

After starting the day with an impressive downpouring of rain in the morning the afternoon cleared up perfectly. Just as well, with the crowd starting to bustle and joust their way into position early – rather politely I might add, complete with many advanced apologies for toe stepping, elbow knocks and general bumps. Further evidence of Pearl Jam fans being a lovely bunch, and just as well, given the agonising wait.

So we waited, and waited…

And with the appearance of an Australian flag being waved at the side of stage in honour of Australia Day, the wait wrapped up with an explosive start into Do the Evolution. Another night, another set…who knew what would be next.

The fury of Mind your Manners, throw in a classic with Animal – tick.

Anyone for a bit of Hail, Hail? Yes please!

Voices raised to the heavens for new and old songs, including another epic delivery of Corduroy, the endless accolades and cheers the music came coming, keen and intense with little said until the night was well underway.

Pearl Jam @ Big Day Out Sydney

Pearl Jam @ Big Day Out Sydney

If Low Light and Setting Forth were the surprise inclusions in Melbourne, my Sydney surprise awards have to go to In Hiding (talk about screams from many, including me, as soon as that intro hit) and Severed Hand – unbelievably epic live.

Things did get serious just for a little while, to the topic of current events and just how lucky we are here…particularly poingnant on Australia Day and a juncture to the more mellow sounds of Sirens.

It was only a matter of time before the oldies were included somewhere along the line, and the fans responded in kind to State of Love and Trust, and later to Chloe Dancer and Crown of Thorns from the days of Mother Love Bone.

Eddie Vedder @ Big Day Out Sydney

Eddie Vedder @ Big Day Out Sydney

Unthought Known – finally! I had been hoping to hear this back in 2009 when Pearl Jam were touring around the release of Backspacer, but to no avail. This is one of those tracks that ends up on repeat on the odd occassion and experiencing it live is pure bliss.

The records were paid due homage too, in both new (Let the Records Play) and old ways (Spin the Black Circle), back to back. And then there was Footsteps…as if the set couldn’t get any more extraordinary. But it did – add Rearviewmirror to the list!

Stone Gossard @ Big Day Out Sydney

Stone Gossard @ Big Day Out Sydney

Is it possible for a song to move you to shivers while simultaneously making you laugh? Yes, if you’re listening to Eddie Vedder belt out a cover of Hunters and Collectors’ ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’. What a brilliant moment…the preamble of discovering the song, one man and a guitar, and one that draws unimaginable hope to see this live as a duet with Mark Seymour. Hell, why not make it a trio with Neil Finn too….we can dream and hope…

The night went well beyond your standard festival set – about 2 hours, 40 minutes and we would have happily kept going, no one wanted any of that to end. It seemed like things were only getting started again once Mark Arm and Steve Turner from Mudhoney came on stage to join for ‘Kick Out the Jams’.

But when the evening ends with Rockin’ in the Free World, complete with all the tambourine joy on stage, there was nothing to complain about as the flood lights came on and everyone wandered out in a state of euphoria.

I am continuously astounded at how good Pearl Jam are live. The sound was absolutely formidable from the get go yet again, impeccable vocals, amazing rhythms coming from behind the drums, immaculate and jaw dropping guitar solos, astounding bass and an incredible chemistry to watch unfold on stage. Even more staggering is hearing everyone’s reactions after the show – from the die hards and the novices.

The sets keep getting better, and I still want more. Next stop, Adelaide…


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