Pearl Jam - Jobing.com Arena, Glendale - 11/19/13
Pearl Jam concerts are different. It's not just a bunch of guys on stage cranking out rock songs; even in Jobing.com Arena, it's an intimate, more personal affair. Artists talk about the energy that flows between audience and stage, and that's what's so obvious here. The bands cares; the fans care.
All photos by Jim Louvau (View the full slideshow.)
Maybe too much, actually -- it was a little scary, the way audience members raised their hands in unison (without prompting) or sang verses while frontman Eddie Vedder watched and smiled.
Vedder, of course, knew it was coming. Such is the relationship the band has fostered with its fans over the years. Think about it: There are only two bands garnering enough support to have their own Sirius XM radio station: The Grateful Dead and Pearl Jam.
Perhaps this is why Pearl Jam played for a hair beyond three hours on this night, even breaking out some acoustic treats "for the more serious collectors," as Vedder put it. Whatever the reason, it's unlikely anyone in the house left disappointed.
It had been 10 years since Pearl Jam played Phoenix, and it was clear the band was prepared to make up for lost time, running thought a set list heavy on classics as well as the new album, Lightning Bolt. Like a pot coming to boil, the intensity was a slow build, opening with the heavy trilogy of "Long Road," Release," and "Low Light" before cutting loose with a truly psychedelic cover of Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive."
This pattern was consistent all evening -- cool it down for a couple of numbers before exploding again so guitarist Mike McCready could circle the stage like a lost punk looking for a mosh pit while bassist Jeff Ament did his best Pete Townshend leaps and Matt Cameron hit his drums with fabled ferocity. Vedder, of course, was at the front of it all, standing on the stage monitors, gesturing to the crowd, playing the occasional guitar, or rambling on about something or other, but always putting his all into each song.
Watching Pearl Jam -- which, not in the least, also includes low-key guitarist Stone Gossard -- perform for the seventh time, it's hard to believe these are the scruffy punks I first encountered during their debut tour and on subsequent Lollapalooza tours.
Back then, a long-haired Vedder crowd-surfed and climbed stage curtains while the band cranked out blistering sets composed of their debut Ten, and select covers. It was all energy and angst. Tonight by comparison was filled with the cool composure of a band well in control of its destiny, but clearly one also intent on having a lot of fun.