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Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam – BST Hyde Park

Pearl Jam completed their two day takeover of BST Hyde Park in incredible style on the Great Oak Stage! 

Fresh from an opening night on the Friday, Eddie Vedder and the band hit the stage just after 8pm accompanied by the intro music of ‘All You Need Is Love’ by The Beatles, appropriate for the amount of love and adulation they were already receiving from the crowd. Opening with Corduroy, from 1994’s Vitology album, the Seattle legends then moved through ‘Why Go’, ‘Deep’ and ‘Wishlist’. A cover version of Neil Young’s ‘Throw Your Hatred Down’, saw the band joined by the The Smith’s guitarist Johnny Marr. 

The songs (apart from two, which I believe were Alive and Porch) were completely different on the setlist from the previous night such is the back catalogue of the band. This is something refreshing and keeps it very unique to that particular gig but I do wish I could have seen ‘Better Man’ played live!

There were a few touching moments during the evening with dedications to Taylor Hawkins and acknowledging that we were very lucky to be here celebrating together amongst all the troubled events currently playing out across the world. There was also a young boy in the crowd, on the barrier, who held up a sign to say that tonight was his first ever gig, what a choice! He was projected onto the screens to rapturous applause from the crowd and this caught the attention of Eddie, who threw out a tambourine to him as a memento of the gig and encouraged him to gain inspiration from Mike McCready’s guitar solo that followed.

A rousing end to the set followed with ‘State of Love and Trust’, ‘Black’, ‘Porch’ and a Van Halen cover ‘Eruption’ thrown in for good measure. The crowd singing to ‘Black’ was something to behold and sent shivers down my spine, the unison between crowd and Eddie’s delivery was beautiful. The encore followed with ‘Leash’, ‘Alive’ (another moment of pure synergy between the band and crowd), ‘Yellow Ledbetter’ and an amazing cover of The Who’s ‘Baba O’Reilly’ with Johnny Marr returning to the stage along with singer/songwriter Andrew Watt. 

The musicianship from Pearl Jam throughout was second to none, 30 + years in the business and every second of that showed. The guitar playing from Stone and Mike was a joy to witness and to hear Eddie Vedder sing was everything I hoped it would be, although not in his prime, its clear that his power and range is still there. Tonight was two years in the making and how it was worth waiting for – shamefully this was my first Pearl Jam gig but man, I don’t think it will be my last!

Pearl Jam
Photo Credit: Russ Leggatt (Above and main)

The bill for the day also included a fine blend of the classic and the new. During Pearl Jam’s set Eddie mentioned that a number of the bands playing today had been signed to guitarist Stone Gossard’s Loosegrove Records.

The Great Oak Stage was opened by The Last Internationale, an American rock band formed in New York. Sporting a Free Assange flag at the front of the guitarist monitor, they tried to get the crowd engaging with their tunes but those there early were a tough nut to crack in the blazing early afternoon sun. Over on the smaller stage I caught the The Wild Things set, which was edgy and interesting with one of their tracks being written with the legend that it is Pete Townsend. The track ‘Only Attraction’ was due to be aired at a ‘small venue’ that is Maddison Square Garden (their words) and one that they put on a par with Hyde Park to tick off the list. 

The man (and if you know me, one of my complete favourites) Johnny Marr played a shortened set on the Great Oak Stage due to a few technical issues. Johnny and the boys played a just a few solo numbers including ‘Spirit, Power and Soul’, ‘Armatopia’ and ‘Easy Money’ with the bulk of tunes being covers of The Smiths numbers that we all know and love including ‘Panic’, ‘This Charming Man’, How Soon Is Now’ with ‘There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’ dedicated to Pearl Jam. 

Stereophonics were the penultimate act to take to the stage before Pearl Jam and warmed the crowd up nicely in the evening sun performing classics ‘The Bartender and The Thief’, ‘Maybe Tomorrow’, Just Looking’ and ‘Dakota’.  

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