How do you even begin to describe a Pearl Jam show? Epic? Mind blowing? Phenomenal? They are certainly all those things but a Pearl Jam gig is more than just a show, it’s an experience, a moment, a feeling.
No two Pearl Jam shows are the same. The set list is done sometimes just moments before the show, often making changes just before taking to the stage and whilst you can guarantee songs such as Alive and Porch and either Even Flow or Jeremy, you never know what you’re going to get and sometimes those rarely done live songs come out and it’s just wonderfully special.
There’s something to be said about artists who have been together for so many years that they can change a set list last minute because they all know their songs like the back of their hand. This is why so many fans go to more than one stop on their tour as you will get a different show every night and let’s face it, most fans want songs like Black, State of Love and Trust, Yellow Ledbetter, Animal, Daughter, Small Town, Rearview Mirror and for me Dissident on at least one show and chances are, you will get those songs spread across an entire tour. Dissident was actually originally on tonight’s set list but crossed off. I am still waiting to get Hard to Imagine live but am not sure if that will ever happen or ever has happened? PJ fans if you know, let me know where and when.
Tonight, July 9th 2022 marked the second date of their BST Hyde Park shows. A particularly hot summers day, fans were in full force and had already formed an almost full fan club area right in front of the stage even though they would be there for hours before the band even took to the stage.
BST Hyde Park is a great setting for a band such as Pearl Jam and the band made sure the 10c members had the best access by removing the division between what has been Diamond and Gold circle for the other shows and merging them together. The crowd were part of what made the night so fantastic, that energy and that love for every song is second to none.
The Great Oak stage is a great set up! It is a huge stage with tall screens curving round to the sides so everyone could see. I have never seen a screen on a stage do that. Nice the designers thought of the fans who stand stage side and can’t see much of anything.
Whilst last night they began with Betterman, tonight they started with Corduroy which as you can imagine, pretty much set the pace for the rest of the night! There is such a magical feeling when the majority of the audience have that same euphoric reaction as soon as the intro begins. Awaiting the first song of a Pearl Jam concert is as exciting as the last, you know that it is going to be something special.
The audience sang in unison incredibly loudly and with so much joy and passion that if you didn’t know your neighbour, you did now as everyone sang and jumped together as if they were one big happy family. That’s PJ fans for you. Eddie even said the promoters said we were the best crowd yet, respectful, clean and the band were damn proud of that. It was also quite emotional to look around the audience behind and to the sides and know that they were all feeling the exact same thing as we were.
After Corduroy was Small Town. Another chanting moment and already people who had been in the crowd yesterday were saying we were definitely getting a better set list and we really really did! The entire set list was insanely good and there was no moment where you wanted to go to the bar or the bathroom.
It didn’t take long to realise that this night was more than just a show, it was a celebration! It was the first time in a long time that most PJ fans had been together since the start of covid but also it was a night many of us had waited two years for and Pearl Jam had no intention of letting us down.
It’s hard to remember every little detail when you’re having that much of a good time but every minute was special and the whole band were on fire. Everyone including them felt the emotion, the love and the unity and this show undoubtedly will go down in PJ history as one of their best shows ever.
Straight after Small Town we had Why Go, Deep, Wishlist and Garden. We definitely picked the right night to go. A few fans were left disappointed with yesterday’s set list but you know what? Pearl Jam listen to their fans and they really went all out tonight. Sure, we didn’t get Jeremy, Even Flow or Daughter and Dissident was crossed off the set list but seeing as they played most of those yesterday, I wasn’t really expecting them tonight and it didn’t even matter because we got Black, Why Go, Small Town, Animal, Garden, Not For You, tour debut of Rats, State of Love and Trust, Yellow Ledbetter and more!
Eddie Vedder’s vocals felt flawless and were wonderfully emotive. A friend I had made that night said “There are some voices you just believe and he has integrity built into his voice”. We couldn’t agree more! Vedder has a distinctive tone that is deliciously infectious to listen to and after all these years his vocals are just as good as they were in the 90’s, more so perhaps as he has maturity and life experience behind them now.
Mike McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Matt Cameron, and of course Boom played to perfection. Of course not forgetting Josh Klinghoffer. One thing I love about PJ fans is we care and focus on every member of the band. I love watching Mike McCready lose it on stage. He gets so lost in the riffs and solos and is awe inspiring. The chants of BOOM are always a welcomed part and something again, the audience share well. Stone’s Rhythms and Ament’s slick bass always impress and the stylistic beats from Matt Cameron soared throughout Hyde Park.
Dance of the Clairvoyants translates perfectly in an open aired live setting and sounds astonishing. It just has that great “festival” feel to it.
Earlier in the show Eddie stopped playing to help someone in need get out of the crowd, something PJ are Known for and more artists should learn from this.
There are so many moments I have forgotten now as I was so lost in all of it (in the best way). Forgive me for that. Cheers of agreement came when Vedder spoke of the craziness happening in the US right now and how they are going to run out of rock as are burying so many people because of the ridiculous gun laws. He said how we are lucky to not have the issues they have in the US.
“If anyone doesn’t have empathy or respect for the sanctity of life – their own and others, if they don’t have that, then that’s exactly the person we don’t want to have with a firearm in their possession,”
He also said (although I couldn’t hear it all accurately) how his wife and daughter were in New York and people were running screaming that there was a shooter and people were hiding and scared but it turned out it was just a firework.
Johnny Marr retuned to the stage (after playing earlier that day) to join them for a song they wrote with Neil Young Throw Your Hatred Down.
The previously mentioned Not For You was a crowd choice when we were given the option of that and Whipping, again showing how no set list is set in stone with Pearl Jam.
The encore included Leash, Alive, Yellow Ledbetter and their epic cover of The Who’s Baba O’Riley. Yellow Ledbetter always sounds insane live with that guitar riff and dang it I still don’t know the words after all these years.
The whole show was just a truly magical experience, exceptional and easily one of the best shows I have ever been to and I have seen a lot of artists live. Pearl Jam songs just have such a deep meaning to fans, they are a part of who we are, part of our childhood and having those nostalgic moments with the early songs is happiness.
Tonight was worth the two year wait. There was so much energy, passion and atmosphere in the crowd and on the stage that it really was a celebratory moment.
I won’t ever forget how it felt to be there tonight! It’s hard to imagine a better show!