Saturday, May 22, 2010

Live Review - Pearl Jam @ MSG

To say that grunge is dead would be unknown if one stepped into Madison Square Garden last night as the heavyweights of the genre headlined the second of two sold out concerts at the worlds most famous arena. Pearl Jam who have been one of the greatest touring bands of the last 20 years have developed the cult like following that acts such as Grateful Dead, Phish, Rolling Stones, and U2 have developed over the years. With each die hard fan lining up hours before each show to grab the coveted Pearl Jam concert poster, T-shirt and other exclusive memorabilia, it makes the craze that Black Friday has developed over the years look like child's play. Still, the most important thing to any fan who will travel far and wide to see this band is the setlist and what songs Pearl Jam will take out of their massive catalogue and perform.
Opening with "Cordury," the band set the standard of what the rest of the night would be like. The track (a personal favorite) shot out like a cannon and the succeeding songs did the same; "Hail, Hail," "Do the Evolution," "World Wide Suicide," "Got Some," the militia of opening tracks firing off heartbeats, pulses and tore the roof off the venue. As Eddie Vedder would dabble in his wine, raise and lower the power of his mumbling voice and trot around on stage, the rest of his band mates are just as entertaining to watch and witness. Drummer Matt Cameron's pounding performance on his kit echoed through the arena, guitarist Mike McCready may very well be one of the most underrated guitarists of a generation, McCready play his axe with the combination of Johnny Ramone meets Joe Perry. While guitarist Stone Gassard and bassist Jeff Ahmet held their own, collectively this band is a powerhouse.
As the set grew and night lasted and lasted, Pearl Jam gave the audience their monies worth with a near three hour set! To do that five to six days a week is not only a triumph, it is something to be admired. Bringing out a special string quartet to revamp some ballads and play the traditional way, along with bringing out opening act Band of Horses singer Ben Bridwell to perform the Temple of the Dog classic "Hunger Strike." After a marathon set that seemed like a battle, it would only be fitting for the grunge heroes who's major inspiration came from punk rock, covering MC5's "Kick out the Jams," and leading into "Yellow Ledbetter," the night was ended on the highest of notes.
For a band that has lasted as long as they have and to continue to get bigger and better, what the next 20 years will show will be a surprise and pleasure. Pearl Jam maybe the only band to ever succeed Springsteen and the E Street band in longevity and power during a full set.
Opening the night was Georgia buzz band Band of Horses, who's latest Infinate Arms has earned the band much acclaim and praise, played a humbling set at MSG. As they looked nervous, and rightfully so, on stage, if you were just listening to the music you could not tell. They sounded beautiful and simply stunning and proved that the hype behind them can be measured in a great live set.

Pearl Jam 5/21/10 Madison Square Garden Setlist:
Main Set:
Corduroy, Hail Hail, Do the Evolution, Worldwide Suicide, Got Some, Breath, Nothingman, I'm Open (Dedicated to Howard Zinn), Unthought Known, Grievance, Amongst the Waves, Present Tense, Not For You/Modern Girl, Push Me Pull Me, Rats, Daughter/WMA, The Fixer, Why Go

Encore 1:
The End (w/ string quartet), Just Breathe (w/ string quartet), Slow Lukin (w/ strings), Black Red Yellow, Sweet Lew, Given to Fly, Spin the Black Circle, Rearviewmirror

Encore 2:
Wasted Reprise, Betterman, Black/We Belong Together, The Real Me, Hunger Strike, Alive, Kick Out the Jams, Yellow Ledbetter/Star Spangled Banner