Support: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club / OFF! / Eddie Vedder
We didn’t get to the gig early enough to see Eddie stroll on stage at the Milton Keynes Bowl to sing an acoustic Porch. He did that even before the first support band of the day, had played. A very Springsteen thing to do. Also a very Springsteen thing to do is play thirty five plus songs during a 3 hour,10 minute set.
Wandering on stage at 7.45 Pearl Jam almost eased themselves into the gig. An understated Pendulum opened the show followed by Wash, Nothingman and the always beautiful Black. Then a switch is flipped and the music gets heavy, the mosh pit goes mental and a fat guy gets told off for crowd surfing by a good humoured, wine bottle guzzling Vedder. Everything is well in the world…When Pearl Jam go for it they really go for it, Go starts the serious head banging off, Brain of J, Comatose, Save You, Hail Hail, Mind Your Manners, Do the Evolution, Got Some and Lightning Bolt continue the theme. As an ageing ex mosher I tend to stay back a little bit these days but how I wished I was in the pit for that run of songs.
All through the gig Vedder tells stories in his usual endearingly rambling way including one about a complete stranger telling him that they had not played Nothing as It Seems in Europe for years. A glorious version followed, it really is a song that shows off the depth of Vedder’s voice. Spine-tinglingly good. Given to Fly is a personal favourite, Sirens is a new Pearl Jam classic, Corduroy is immense live and then Even Flow manages to get the quiet ones in the crowd punching the air. Let the Records Play, Spin the Black Circle and Rearviewmirror close the first part of the gig after 1 hour and 45 minutes…they and we were just getting warmed up.
You never know what to expect from this band, they really could play anything. After another Lightning Bolt track, Yellow Moon, Eddie is joined by Simon Townshend (Pete’s brother) to sing his 1983 single I’m the Answer, followed by the second Lost Dog of the night Footsteps. Then its Mother Love Bone time and for me probably the biggest highlight of the many highlights of the night. Crown of Thorns is a song that I had never heard of until a few years ago. I didn’t know MLB or who Andrew Wood was. That all changed when a true Pearl Jam nut (Duce you know it’s you) made sure I learned at least a potted history of the band. Crown of Thorns really is a huge song sung by a huge band. To then follow that with two more huge songs in Better Man and Jeremy was giving me a serious emotional hard on (far better than the physical kind I get now I am 40...too much?).
Lukin and Porch ended the second part of the set before a sublime last encore starting with the Beatles song Rain (they were joined on stage by Dhani Harrison apparently but I confess I only found that out today), a ferocious version (and I mean really bloody ferocious) of Daughter with Eddie ranting at War (what is it good for…absolutely nothing), an energetic Blood, and then the whole of the National Bowl joined in for Alive and Rockin’ in the Free World. Magnificient.
What makes Pearl Jam so different to other bands? Well for a start they play what the hell they want (six songs off both the first and most recent albums for example, they love what they do (not sure all bands do), they are the same group of musicians (apart from the Spinal Tap drum situation but hey Matt C sorted that out), they don’t do gimmicks (what you see is what you get) and they genuinely seem to appreciate their fans (Ten Club leads the way where other fan clubs seriously lack).
So after 190 minutes of Pearl Jam we headed to the car park…alas the night turned sour when we and hundreds of others aimlessly wandered the streets (for streets read Roundabouts) of Milton Keynes trying to find the correct car park which weren’t sign posted, numbered, colour coded or indeed known by any of the staff who worked in the arena or on the streets directing traffic. I won’t go into details here (I feel a separate blog coming on for that...) but suffice to say the concert finished at 10.55pm and we got to the car at 1.43am. This will be our last ever visit to Milton Keynes as in my wife’s own words ‘I wouldn't go to Milton Keynes again even if Elvis himself made a comeback. Roundabout hell shithole’. My thoughts exactly. Pearl Jam on the other hand…well this was only our second time seeing them. Think we may have to up that total a little more before they call it a day. That’s alright though as I have a feeling that won’t be for many years to come.
Ticket Price: £65.00