Having spent pre-Pearl Jam time at the Melbourne and Sydney Big Day Outs wandering around to check out some of the other bands performing, it was time to stake out a decent viewing spot for Pearl Jam in Adelaide. Perhaps not the wisest decision given the weather – after a decent soaking the previous weekend, Adelaide brought the heat and damn, it was a scorcher.
By about 11:30am, most of the space along the railing at the blue stage had been taken by the faithful and as the day progressed the crowds that appeared behind us for the other acts during the day came and went. The faithful however, remained committed to the cause, all while avoiding becoming anything near toasty or lobster red while roasting in the sun.
Yes, it was hot and energy levels may have been plateauing a little but it paid off as soon as 8pm came along with cheers followed by the drums launching into Why Go, lyrics screamed in earnest and haste, word for word. Heat, weariness, sore feet, all miraculously disappeared and showed no signs of returning with the distinguishable guitar riffs of Do the Evolution filling the air and welcoming the angelic sounds of the crowd choir. This was Pearl Jam, and what we had been waiting for all day.
There was no rest to be had; the crowd was loud but volumes were unmatched during Corduroy and mandatory claps continuing into Lightning Bolt, an absolute gem from the new album.
Shorts were the attire of choice, not for nostalgia but purely for the weather, the heat causing great confusion with being so close to the Antarctic. So hot in fact that all responsibility was given to Mike McCready for a few minutes solo onstage with some damn fine guitar work while everyone else took a break. No complaints at all there!
But there were still moments of nostalgia through the music – before long, the first of many surprises of the night with Blood (one of many to tick off the wishlist for the evening), continuing the vehemence of Mind Your Manners and the epic (as always) Even Flow, extended for some more impressive guitar and a mind blowing display of drumming – and yes, everyone loves Matt Cameron! Not to mention Daughter being mashed with It’s Okay…being much more than just okay.
The highlight of the night had to be standing in view of Mike McCready during Given to Fly, an absolute dream come true watching and absorbing the magic of that song unravelling in front of you. And if Mike McCready is jumping around during the chorus directly in front of you, you too jump, ignoring the incredible body heat surging from behind and enveloping the little space around. Completely and undeniably worthwhile – listening to it away from a crowd I’m always overwhelmed with emotion, yet live I’m filled with nothing but pure joy and elation. Wonders never cease to amaze.
We got Once (tick!), and Red Mosquito was sneakily squeezed in before those opening chords to Better Man mashed with a little Save it for Later to close main proceedings.
It was inevitable during the run of Australian shows, but encore one bought Lukin, Pink Floyd’s Mother and after praising Mark Arm, the combined efforts in Kick out the Jams in encore two were followed by The Who’s Baba O’Riley for the evening’s feature of tambourines. Chants of, “One more!” bestowed Yellow Ledbetter, a perfect conclusion to the evening.
The fun and joy was evident all night, with the grins between Mike and Jeff jamming on stage, stage shout outs to have guys get onto girls’ shoulders, Eddie raising Mike on his shoulders mid-song, then…Eddie Vedder behind the drums? Yep, it happened. And Matt watched alongside, grinning. A permanent shift behind the kit is unlikely, but it was awesome while it lasted.