A heartfelt, passionate performance, combined with an enthusiastic, vivacious audience, made for an unrivaled evening. Ben Harper and the Relentless7 started the evening with a soulful set. At first the crowd before them was lackluster, but by the end they were enthralled with the display. When Eddie and the rest of Pearl Jam took the stage the entire stadium lost their minds. Everything about their performance was immaculate; the music, the interaction with the fans, every single aspect. This show easily made my top 5 of all time, which is not a feat easily attained. A Pearl Jam concert is a right of passage for the true concert aficionado, and last night they proved why.
From the moment of cresting the stairs of General Motors Place, you could feel the intensity in the air. The attendees at Pearl Jam event are like a family more than a group of strangers. It is one unifying link that keeps them bonded. People are generous, extra courteous, they go out of their ways to be nice to each other. This is brought on by the band, and what they represent. The feeling at the show is like a reunion of sorts. Its a very magical feeling, and this is what a Pearl Jam concert, is truly about. The performance is only part of it, the unity is what keeps the masses returning.
Waiting their in the massive venue, patiently passing time, the lights finally dropped. Ben Harper and The Relentless7 took the stage. They immediately dove into their set list. Surprisingly the audience was not involved, in the beginning. No cheering, or hand clapping, the people just stood and stared. I felt embarrassed by my home town. Ben Harper was singing his heart out. His crisp instrumental style blues voice, was drifting through the arena. Still to my amazement, the crowd was not moved. The vocals were beyond passionate, the instruments were soulful and tugged at my very being. Still their was no reaction from the quiet mass. Finally, around the third song or so, Ben stood up and rocked out a little. He took out the soul and heavy feeling and took the show for a little rock walk. The crowd loved it and was awe struck from that moment on.
By the end of the set, I almost forgot I was at a Pearl Jam concert. Mr.Harper took a second to thank Eddie for taking them on tour, saying “A whole bunch of bands would cut off a toe to be up here.” Then pointing out he got to keep his toe. He then Ranted off on a side note about the friendship they had built with the band. Ben and his amigos left the stage with a the crowd feeling connected. This is a great way to build fans; they felt special, they felt unique, they felt loved.
During the intermission the empty seats that were left began to be filled. This was literally a full sell out concert, even the seats behind the stage were sold. To cater to this there was no rear curtain on the stage. It was an open style stage; very minimalist. Chants started to erupt from the eager mass; three separate full stadium pleas for an early start to the show. They did not want to wait for their musical messiahs, they wanted them now.
The lights dropped, and a moment of silence fell over the once chanting onlookers. It was short lived, immediately following the quiet; an explosion of screams blossomed. The lights raised and before the fans stood Pearl Jam. They were not presenting themselves in some better than thou, rock god style. They were standing before their peers; jeans, tshirts, and bottles of booze. Pearl Jams connection with its fans starts in the smallest places, and their entrance was one of them.
Immediately into the set I was blown away by the clarity of Eddies vocals. Mike and Stones guitar work was flawless; he brought a element of fun to the show. Jeff and Matt, kept the backbone bumping, and brought the true rhythm to the stage. As an entity they were completely perfect. They move as one, and perform as one. No one man is holding the show on his own, they are truly best friends. This camaraderie is passed through in their musical release, and it flows into the fans, filling their souls.
Eddies banter with the crowd is from the heart and definitely not scripted. The first thing he said was “Goddamn look at us we’re in Vancouver,” igniting the mob with even more gusto. Throughout the show he made small monologues about various points, but the one that stuck with me was about Terry Fox. He told a story about being a young man and seeing Terry running across Canada. He pointed this out as being the reason he feels anyone one man can make a difference in the world. He believes this one act to be the act that made him feel he could inspire change. Because of this he said he made a donation to the Terry Fox Run Charity to commemorate its upcoming anniversary. This truly touched me and many others in the audience.
The entire show was perfect, I could not have asked for a better Friday night show. The band returned to the stage for 2 encores. One of which had Eddie and Ben Harper take the stage together and sing a beautiful duet. When the show was finally over, the lights came on and the mass started to vacate. After a few minutes Pearl Jam started playing again, the house lights were still on. This was unheard of, but showed the true commitment to such a perfect evening. Even Eddie and the crew felt the perfection that was the evening and kept going with it.
I do not need to back this band up and push anyone out to see them. They don’t need that at all. But what I can say is the complete truth. This was one of the best shows I have ever attended. The musical side of it, was completely flawless. The performance was down to earth, minimalist, and very personal to this particular show. To top everything off the crowd was unified and reciprocating love for the show. All these aspects add up to the perfect evening; the trifecta of perfection. Pearl Jam is an elite group to see, but they made the show feel like it was a club gig. I am going to be on the lookout for future shows, and I can tell you right now, I am the newest member of the 10 Club.