Story and photos by Matt SchwenkeOminously shaking the rafters of Chicago's sports-storied United Center, Pearl Jam's second of two nights in the hometown of front-man Eddie Vedder delivered a marathon journey through the newest of songs in the rock outfit's catalogue and some that are, according to Vedder, "about as old as they get for us."
Testing the material from the new self-titled release early on, the foot-stomping pulse of "Severed Hand," "World Wide Suicide" and "Life Wasted" received a roaring response from the crowd, and the reaction to "Marker In The Sand" officially put the stamp of approval on the new material. Guitarist Mike McCready provided instant energy with his behind-the-head solo in "Evenflow," and the entire band fed from that fire in the dark but uplifting "Gone." Other notables from the set included McCready producing eerie tones with a double-necked guitar on "Inside Job," a brooding Vedder on "Garden" and the tell-tale thrashings of "Lukin."
Maintaining a certain level of elevated intensity throughout the night, Pearl Jam tested the limits of how long they could keep a large crowd entertained, and succeeded through a humble rapport with fans and by mixing in songs like "Footsteps," with Vedder on harmonica, "Last Kiss," with Vedder singing alit at the soundboard then sprinting back to the stage, or "Crown of Thorns," a tune that Vedder said the band likes to save for "special occasions" and was a rare treat from the time of Mother Love Bone. Regardless of where in Pearl Jam's career one may have become interested, performances like this nod to quality throughout the years and secure their status as one of America's greatest rock acts.
Pearl Jam setlist 5/17/06: Severed Hand
World Wide Suicide
Marker In The Sand
Do The Evolution
I Am Mine
Save It For Later
Man of the Hour
Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
Crown Of Thorns
Rockin' In The Free World
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