Thirty songs were passionately performed over a little more than 2 1/2 hours, starting with “Release” from the band’s acclaimed, 9-million-selling “Ten” debut , and ending under a full moon with the stark “Indifference.” Other than the popular B-side “Yellow Ledbetter” and the sad “Nothingman,” just about any song a PJ fan could have hoped for was on this day’s set list, as well as a handful of new tunes and one bizarre cover.
Pearl Jam’s sold-out San Jose concert — a makeup for an earlier, aborted Bay Area show — found the band performing at a previously unrealized emotional level. And this from a band that has played more than its share of mesmerizing shows. Singer Eddie Vedder was in rare form, performing as if he had something to prove to the band’s performance-starved fans. “These are all the people I would have seen if I could have lifted my head up in San Francisco,” he said, thanking the crowd for their continued faith.
Vedder’s intense voice, as affecting as any in contemporary rock, took songs such as “Corduroy,” big hit “Even Flow” and the fiery “Rearviewmirror” and transformed them into the kind of transcendental moments seldom seen in big rock shows anymore.
A palpable fire and enthusiasm on the part of all five players was the icing. Many songs ended with blistering jams as guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard, bassist Jeff Ament and Vedder on third guitar, formed circles around former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons, pounding out inspired and spontaneous endings that bled the songs for all they were worth.
Pearl Jam, which wraps up a short tour leg in San Diego tonight, played four unreleased songs, including the short punk rave “Lukin” and “I Got S–t,” which will be on a new single that will be released in December. During the encore, openers Kim Warnick of the Fastbacks and singer Ben Harper joined the band for an odd reading of the Byrds’ “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star.”
The day started at 2 p.m. with Vedder taking the stage alone, performing what seemed to be a new song called “Dead Man Walking.””Enjoy the show,” he added, kicking offa most memorable concert.