pearl jam they were In the middle of their own SirusXM concert at Harlem’s Apollo Theater on a Saturday night when Eddie Vader’s mind went to Bessie Smith’s residence at the venue way back in 1935. “I’ve played here for four straight weeks at a time,” he told the audience. “She was the singer, so she was probably standing where I am probably standing. We never had to be in this room before. The fact that we got to this point is just amazing.”
Vedder’s reverence for the Holy Land of Apollo clearly had in common with the rest of the Pearl Jam, and they set out to create a very special night that was far from their usual arena display. Gone are the vast majority of their great hits back in the ’90s. In their place, the group put together a collection full of songs from their new LP Gigaton, deep excerpts from their recent albums, old favourites, and a couple of songs. This may have tested the patience of casual fans who signed up through industry connections and waited all night in the van to hear “Jeremy” or “live,” but it was an evening of ecstasy to PJ hardcores scattered throughout the stage.
But by anyone’s standards, the night got off to a pretty rough start after five fantastically ambiguous songs (“Steps,” “Pendulum,” “Slight Hand,” Umbrellas, and “Hard to Imagine,” Vader told a crowd who had to pause for a while. A minute to “reboot.” “I’m sure John Coltrane didn’t have to say that when he was playing here,” he joked.
That minute turned into a very long 20 minutes as technicians raced around and tried to get the show back up and running. Vader played an unamplified acoustic rendition of Warren Zevon’s song “Keep Me In Your Heart” at one point, but many audiences couldn’t hear it. To make matters worse, the stage was hot. Many of the sweaty fans were fanning themselves, some even asked the guide to turn on the air conditioner. (If the theater had air conditioning, it looks like it was last repaired around the time of James Brown’s cut live in apollo.)
The show finally got back on track with “Who Ever Said” from Gigaton, then finally appease old school fans with the long, confused “Even Flow.” This was followed by a spectacular race that included “Dance of the Clairvoyants”, “Quick Escape”, “Whipping” and “Spin The Black Circle”. The last song is dedicated to Howard Stern and his crew. “We met them tonight for the first time in many years,” Vader said. Robin [Quivers]I only live to hear your laugh. You give me joy when I need it.”
He also told a hysterical story about meeting Ray Charles when he was working as an unpaid roadie at a San Diego nightclub in 1989, and made a shout out to Red Hot Chili Peppers before the SiriusXM Apollo concert on Tuesday. “Back in the day when we were just a baby band with dirty things in our diapers, they took us down the road not just once to a great theater like this, not just twice, but then they took us to Lollapalooza in 1992,” Vader said. “We have to thank them for changing our lives, but it’s been 30 years and we’re still opening up for them.”
The main group concluded with epic “The Balcony,” complete with killer Mike McCready guitar solo. They’re back with singles “Better Man”, wild “Do The Evolution” and a cover of Who’s “Baba O’Riley”. It sounded like the grand finale, but they ended up on a very atypical note by breaking the “indifference” of against.
The clock was pressing towards midnight when they took their last bows, Vader’s shirt drenched in sweat. They were on stage at Madison Square Garden in less than 24 hours. This show will probably go a lot smoother, but they’ll have to work hard to make it more memorable.