One of the worst things about Glasgow for concert goers in the lack of a decent sized venue to bridge the gap between the city’s great, but smaller, places such as the Barrowlands, ABC and King Tuts and stadiums or outdoor events. Here’s hoping the Hydro deals with that. As a result eight of Croy’s finest found themselves moseying on down to Manchester to see Seattle’s finest (yes, I am looking at you Nirvana when I say that) Pearl Jam.
The band has been going for over twenty years now and has matured from long-haired angry rockers to one of the most accomplished outfits on the planet and they did nothing bar reaffirm this point in Manchester.
Opening with the haunting, slow power of Release – a song that drew tears from one of the eight on tour – the arena erupted into a cacophony of approval as Vedder et al set a marker for what was to come.
And it is now I ask for an advance apology from you all. The Coors, Corona, Becks, Crabbies, Fosters and San Miguel have made things a bit hazy in some regards, and the alcohol consumed coupled with the sheer excitement at seeing Pearl Jam for the first time has proven to be a glorious concoction of natural and, well, wheat, barley and hops driven highs.
If you are expecting a blow by blow account of the gig look away now.
Here’s the facts: musically this was an outstanding show. The guitar work of Mike McCready and Stone Gossard is exceptional. The rhythm section pulses to the bass of Jeff Ament and thumping drums of Matt Cameron. Eddie Vedder’s deep growls and high laments sit atop of the band’s music to provide the perfect mix of power and passion. This is rock.
The band did, as you would expect, a plethora of classic songs in a 2 hour+ set. Favourites like Even Flow, Jeremy, Corduroy, Porch and Amongst the Waves had the MEN bouncing and us lamenting the seating tickets that were all we could get. It’s hard to get a sense of just how raucous a crowd really is when you are in the top tier of an arena but it looked fun. The lights up closer of Neil Young’s Rockin’ In A Free World, which is to all intents and purposes a Pearl Jam song now, was brilliant to see, hear and be part of.
The highlight for me personally was the brilliant Just Breathe where the calming sound of the acoustic intro and the poignant lyrics set aside the mayhem of some of the aforementioned tracks to remind us just how good this band is.
Get Sky+ set to record Sky Arts this weekend if you want to see just how good Pearl Jam live really is.
Finally, shouts out to Robert Crainey, Pat McCann, Brendan Lochrie and the Clinton quartet of William, Michael, Aaron and Bernard for good craic, company and the laughs that have hurt my throat as much as trying to sing along did.
James A. Stewart