Pearl Jam Leeds Arena 8th July 2014

Pearl Jam Leeds Arena 8th July 2014
pearljamtixThis was my initiation to Pearl Jam. I’ve been meaning to go and see them for some time and finally did so last night in Leeds. The closest I got until now was seeing singer Eddie Vedder guest with The Who at the Albert Hall a couple of years ago.
My evening started shortly after 5pm, as I set off down the A1. I had am uneventful journey south into Yorkshire and was parked up in a multi- storey car park in Leeds by 7pm. It was then a short walk to the First Direct Arena, before I took my seat in the first tier, just to the left of the stage. Pearl Jam came on just before 8.30pm; there was no support act. This was one of only two UK dates which they are playing this time around, the other being a massive open air show at Milton Keynes bowl.
Leeds First Direct Arena is a fine venue, which holds around 10,000 people, but somehow has the feel of a much smaller hall. This is my second visit, having seen Springsteen there last year.
I’m familiar with very little of Pearl Jam’s material, but I’ve read a lot about them, and was really looking forward to this gig.
Got home late last night. This was an epic 3+ hours, 30+ songs, set from the band, and they exceeded all my expectations. Few bands connect with the audience in the way Pearl Jam did last night. At times I felt like I was the only one in the entire arena who didn’t know all the words to every song as the whole crowd sang along, arms waving. It was like being an observer at someone else’s massive party. The band were very clearly having a great time, and made several references to being pleased to be playing in Leeds, where The Who recorded their famous live album. The encores included covers of two Who classics: The Real Me and Baba O’Reilly. I find Pearl Jam’s music difficult to categorise; although they grew out of the grunge movement, their songs reflect their classic 70s rock roots. You can hear The Who, punk, The Ramones all mashed in there somewhere. In some ways the epic, lengthy nature of the set, and the loyalty of the fans reminded me of seeing the Grateful Dead back in the day. Perhaps that’s a strange comparison, as the music of the two bands is so different. However, I am not alone in making it: “Is Pearl Jam a Modern Grateful Dead? Pearl Jam has long been linked to flannel, but what about tie-dye? As the band closes in on its second decade making music, Pearl Jam and its follow-them-anywhere fans have slowly become one of the tightest communities in rock ’n’ roll, complete with a vibrant bootleg trade centered around the band’s ever-changing, much-lauded live show that many claim transcends the pomp and circumstance of normal rock shows for something more human. Sound like a mouthful? Sure. Sound like the Grateful Dead? Absolutely.” (You can read the full article by Justin Jacobs at http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2009/09/pearl-jamband-are-pearl-jam-a-modern-grateful-dead.html )
Last night what I witnessed was a classic rock act who transcend genres, were obviously enjoying themselves and unquestionably playing on top form. Many fans are already proclaiming it the best Pearl Jam gig they have attended.
Setlist: Pendulum; Of The Girl; Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town; Breakerfall; Hail Hail; Once; Mind Your Manners; Lightning Bolt; Tremor Christ; Wishlist; Who You Are; Ghost; Even Flow; Sirens; Push Me, Pull Me; Do The Evolution; Don’t Gimme No Lip; Army Reserve; Present Tense; Given To Fly; Setting Forth; Rearviewmirror.
Encore 1: Man Of The Hour; All Or None; Fatal; The Real Me (The Who cover); Porch.
Encore 2: Smile; Leaving Here; Black; Jeremy; State Of Love And Trust; Alive; Baba O’Riley (The Who cover); All Along The Watchtower (Dylan cover); Indifference

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