Tonight is pretty much about a load of people showing 100% devotion to the idea of Eddie Vedder if not the man himself. Sporadic roars of “I love you Eddie” pepper the dense atmosphere and seem to hang suspended in the air as he does nothing at all. After a career such as his, though, that’s the norm. There is a type of blanket-adoration which is the preserve of the greats, of which he is undeniably one. A stalwart of a long-gone musical movement that has left an indelible mark on its followers, the myriad check shirts and goatee beards abound.
So set up in his little den, a lamp, an ukulele, a t-shirt-cum-memorial to a friend no longer with us, a few guitars, etc., Eddie wastes no time in snaring the crowd and lulling us into a sense of cosy camaraderie. This isn’t a gig, per se, it’s Vedder inviting us into his inner sanctum to have a bit of a jam. Tea and biscuits. Lovely.
The set is a mix of Pearl Jam songs (‘Jeremy’ with a string quartet – we’ll just leave that there for you to mull over) which ramp up an already swampy ambience, his solo material from the Into The Wild soundtrack, and some covers which land with a wide ranging level of success. For no apparent reason Vedder’s techs are wearing lab-coats…
Anyway, Glen Hansard is here, after a relatively low-key support slot for his bestie he returns for the gig’s closing efforts. He must be able to sing ‘The Auld Triangle’ in his sleep; even if he does you can bet your hole that there will be a load of people here to proclaim it as “life affirming”. Vedder makes a good fist of it too, and by Jesus do the crowd lap this up. This is very much a personality-driven event. Vedder sounds vowel-y and North American-nasal-y as he always does, his guitar playing is frenetic and robust and as the songs veer into wig-out territory he seems to lose himself in his own playing. He’s off his stool and waving his arms around one minute, lurching like a drunk marionette the next. Nobody actually even cares if it sounds good or not. We get a few stories about pints and something about the similarities Dublin and Seattle share, I actually don’t know what that means.
Had Eddie Vedder come onstage and not said a word, instead just played the songs, this would have been a very different gig. People love the banter and love feeling like they witnessed something special, and in this case they have. He has absolutely loved being in front of this audience tonight and everybody in the arena knows it, his alleged €25k fine for breaking curfew is a gift to every last one of us.