Photos by Cory Schwartz | Words by Bobby Kagen
After two nights in Worcester, Brooklyn and Philadelphia, Pearl Jam scheduled a one night affair in Hartford, CT. The old hockey coliseum-like building had the energy of a Hartford Whalers play-off game. As the lights went out for the third time, the show was ready to begin.
The show began with the new opening standard “Pendulum” which conjures up the old soul and chanting which just builds the crowd up to get ready for the main opener. The first few notes of “Long Road” began, and you knew Eddie’s heart was crying out for the children and families of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting. The show was a slow climber as after “Sometimes” they exploded into the title track form the new album Lightning Bolt into the aggressive “Mind Your Manners”.
“Last Exit” and a great version of “Immortality” was played from the Vitalogy album. Then it was time for Mike McCready to take over, as he threw the guitar over his head and played a blistering solo on the classic “Even Flow”. Watching Mike play the guitar and seeing how focused he is during the show is just amazing to watch.
The very rare “Alone” was played as the real classic Pearl Jam fans got to rock out to that gem. “Unthought Known” got the crowd in a clapping frenzy as they just parlayed that into a very intense “Save You” as Eddie sings, “F— you if I say something you don’t want to hear from me!”
The first set closed with the crowd taking over the lyrics of the first half of “Betterman”, letting Eddies voice take a break. When a band allows a crowd to become part of the show it is a very special moment, and that’s what Pearl Jam does every night. It’s a community of people who come out to rock with their band and the band comes out to rock with their faithful fans.
This great show only got better as the first encore began with the Neil Young like “Yellow Moon” and the perfectly beautiful “Future Days”, both from their latest album. Eddie spoke about his friends on stage, and their loss of original singer Andy Wood from the band Mother Love Bone, “Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns” is played and the band sent off their love to a lost friend.
Mike McCready took the show over once again as they pay tribute to the rock music that came before them as he played “Eruption” from Van Halen I then a fantastic version of “Ain’t Talkin ‘Bout Love” which they only played one time before, also in Hartford.
Once again Pearl Jam brings people into the building who think they are there to see a rock show, but leave with so much more. It is a celebration of life, music, ability to take a break from the everyday, and feel the energy from the band and the people in the arena. The show ended with the lights on and the whole arena singing the words “F-cking Up”, which is a Neil Young song that PJ has also taken to pay homage to the true rocker that has guided their growth over the years. As the lights stayed on, the band and audience sang “Indifference” together, voices strong, arm in arm. It was another great show from one of the last true rock bands that we have in our lives.