With relatively few UK gigs under their belts, it's always nice to have Pearl Jam in town. Assuming they aren't one of your most hated bands, of course. As noted by the band, their first UK gig was at The Borderline in '92 - and they were often described as being 'full of energy'. Probably because they "only played eight songs" - a long way from tonight's three-hour-plus show in front of a packed house. So packed, that Eddie Vedder wisely hypnotized the crowd into taking a unified three steps back about four songs in, reminding everyone of why they were away from Europe for so long before.
With the band maturing gracefully, and the Ten reissue garnering such nostalgic praise, it's hard not to suspect that Pearl Jam may be winding things down somewhat. Tracks from imminent new release Backspacer didn't make much impact, while the set was packed with often overlooked tracks from the earliest (four) albums.
Surprise opener Release was a highlight, plus plenty of favourites from Vitalogy, the spine-tingling Footsteps, personal favourite Light Years - as well as obligatory singalongs Black and Betterman, plus the rousing encore of Crazy Mary.
While you might expect the enormodome proportions of the O2/Millenium Dome to make for a stale atmosphere, with the right band it makes for an exuberant party vibe. We're all here to see Pearl Jam, but with the beer stand so easy to get to you'd be foolish to pull the usual trick of backing up your toilet breaks to the end. And so evolves a new dilemma: where to take your break. With so many favourites flowing easily it's a tough descision, especially when unknown newer songs provoke a mass exodus/bigger queues. Like choosing which kid to throw out the boat first, I went with Rats, while BC chose lesser known b-side I Got ID and CJ bizarrely chose Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town. At least he was back quick.
If you hate them, you hate them, but if you love them you'll wish you had been there for a typically roof-raising performance from the definite 'grunge' (ha!) rockers.
Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
I Got I.D.
Rats (with a bit of Michael Jackson' Ben)
Blood (with a bit of Atomic Dog)
Love, Reign O'er Me
Do The Evolution
Better Man (with a bit of Save It For Later)
I've put the best part of the setlist into a Spotify playlist here.