Story and Photos by Terry MayerThe last time Pearl Jam was at Alpine Valley it was in the 30s and freezing cold. This time it was in the 80s and red hot. The contrast in temperatures symbolized the varied performances.
As one of the granddaddies of grunge rock and one of the few survivors from the genre, Eddie Vedder came out onto the stage with a bottle of champaign in one hand and earnestly bowing to his many fans. Contrasts would be the theme of the evening. The long hair was gone, but the ragged trademark clothes remained. With no hesitation Pearl Jam started off with the super mellow "Sometimes" The mood would ebb and flow during the evenings performance. "Corduroy" and "Green Disease" helped jump start the set.
On previous Pearl Jam shows, where the crowd let the evening consume them, there was something obligatory in their enthusiasm. Eddie went into a hypnotic trance as he tread the rough terrain of "Save You," "God's Dice" and "Faithful." He went emotionless. Either digging deep inside or simply bored. Granted he was coming off of a recent sickness and could have been still recovering, but "Immortality" and "Love Boat Captain" lacked the core soul even though they were performed well.
It was a treat to hear the few covers, mainly the Ramones raunched up version of "I Believe In Miracles." Midway through the set the ragged chords of "Better Man" bit the malaise off head first and had the audience in a better mood. "Jeremy" still sounded fresh as Eddie and company seemed to renew their frequent flyer miles. "Even Flow," as you would expect, was a big hit. The band backed Vedder with an able and personal conviction. "Daughter" and "Reviewmirror" finished out the first set quite uneventfully.
"Go" and "Animal" began the first of two encores. The middle portion was the weakest part of the show. "Small Town," "Glorified G," "Bu$hleaguer" and "Do the Evolution" finished off the first encore all with the passion of newspaper boy delivering the last paper on his route. A strong finish was needed to recover.
"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" began the second encore with the Seattle sound's crunch in full harmony. "Breath" kicked the memory of the first encore into oblivion with it's fuzzy guitars, cracked-pipe bass and thundering drum beats. "Baba O'Riley" and "Yellow Ledbetter" crossed the finish line with the checkered flag waving.
The boys from Seattle, while offering nothing new, took us back to a time that once mattered.
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