Some bands should just stop. Venues everywhere are overflowing with aged rockers three or four albums past their best. The list of offenders is, unfortunately, quite august. On that list, Seattle trail-blazers Pearl Jam are notably absent.
The talented Ben Harper and the Relentless7 set the mood, playing to an appreciative crowd. On what was a pleasantly balmy night, O2 attendees were largely made up of die hard fans, soon to be on the wrong side of 30 (some suitably unwashed for the occasion), and a smattering of the younger generation who were bitten by the grunge bug on the way out of the ’90s. Here and there a hopeful Dad could be seen leading an excited but bewildered child through the masses with a prayer in his eyes that something might just sink in.
Taking the stage just before 9pm, Pearl Jam opened with the raucous ‘Long Road’. They then proceded to drag the crowd by its sweaty balls back and forth along the timeline of their illustrious discography, including tracks from their latest album, Backspacer. The guitars were dirty, the drums were loud, and everything was just right.
Three tunes in, ‘The Fixer’ assaulted the senses, played with energy and violence that soaked into the crowd. The shot of adrenaline from No Code that is ‘Lukin’ punched through to Vitalogy’s ‘Not For You’. ‘Evenflow’ and ‘Do the Evolution’ set a furious tempo up to the first break. When the band re-emerged, the entire arena sang with a somewhat un-expected conviction to one of the more chilled tracks off Backspacer, ‘Just Breathe’. This new material blended seamlessly with old, a perfect companion piece to ‘Given to Fly’. A newly written track followed; a work in progress with an odd-ball prog-grunge feel that went down well.
The second encore came all to quickly. The house lights switched on and things got emotional. A chorus of thousands erupted to ‘Elderly Woman’, ‘Betterman’, ‘Alive’ and the beautiful ‘Yellow Ledbetter’. Vedder, humble as always, and with a forgivable clichÃ©, thanked the fans for their most memorable Dublin performance.
Pearl Jam performed on Tuesday with real vibrancy and a true love for their music, old and new. There was no air of desperation. No faux leather wrapped to a wrinkly backside. No hint of an attempt to regain past glories. After all, they never lost them. They were as cool as cucumbers, their newest creations were as full of energy and colour as their oldest, passing the live test with aplomb.Yesterday’s Jam? Pffft.
Photos: Sara Devine.