As this blog is brand, spanking new, I’m going to be doing some backdating. A few months ago, back in March, I saw Eddie Vedder (best known for his Pearl Jam front man duties) play at QPAC in Brisbane. I guess it was similar to The Cure concert in a sense – “big artist plays intimate gig with amazing acoustics”. I went along to the first of three sold out Eddie shows in Brisbane, and while I had truly crap seats (as crap as you can get in a 2,000 capacity venue, I guess), the experience was amazing.
I saw Pearl Jam play in 2009 at QSAC (definitely not to be confused with QPAC) to a sold out crowd of tens of thousands of people. While the band played a fantastic set, with great energy and tons of classic songs, the gig was slightly disappointing due to the ridiculously expansive venue and distinct lack of intimacy. It definitely wasn’t the band’s fault…the venue just sucked big time. Eddie’s solo show was pretty much the antithesis of the Pearl Jam gig of ’09.
When Eddie appeared from the side of the stage, he was met with a wall of cheers as the crowd erupted. It was clear that the audience was full of diehard Pearl Jam fans who were truly elated to see Eddie play such a small and (there’s that word again) intimate show.
Eddie’s show was simple and beautiful…it was basically him, a seat, some mics, a kickboard (which he used to great effect) and a bunch of guitars in the middle of the stage. After the screams died down, Eddie launched into a set full of Pearl Jam songs, covers and some of his own songs taken from the Into the Wild soundtrack and his newly released solo album, Ukulele Songs (which was unreleased at the time of the gig).
From the first note of the first song, Eddie had the audience captivated. The covers and his solo work were met with a captivated mellowness, but the crowd really got going when Eddie launched into Pearl Jam classics such as I Am Mine, Man of the Hour and Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town (my personal highlight of the evening).
In his laid back, down to earth manner, Eddie interacted with the crowd a fair bit, cracking jokes and telling stories. Oddly, he also messed up a few of his songs half way through and had to start again (“When you’re really into a song, that’s when you fuck it up”). I’m not sure if it was nerves or just a lack of practice. It was endearing though and seemed to make the audience love him even more.
Speaking of the audience, there was a fair bit of (positive) heckling going on. If ever there was a lull between songs, someone would scream out “LOVE YOU, EDDIE!” or something similar. It seemed to catch Eddie off guard, but he seemed appreciative and humble.
After Eddie’s set, he came back to play a six-song encore including The Needle and the Damage Done (a Neil Young cover which Eddie dedicated to Mike Star of Alice in Chains who died of an overdose a few days prior) and the Pearl Jam mega hit, Better Man.
He also came back for a second encore, which seemed to leave the crowd more confused than anything. The second encore was only one song and it was a cover (Hard Sun). When Eddie finished the song and left the stage, the entire audience hung around for ages, expecting him to come back with more…but sadly, he didn’t. It was a bit of an odd ending to an otherwise amazing and memorable concert.
Eddie Vedder is a real craftsman and his passion for his music is evident. It was great to see such a huge music legend in such an intimate setting and it only heightened my love for Eddie and Pearl Jam.