with Sonic Youth
The Ice Palace, Tampa, FL • August 12, 2000
Emerging in the ’90s grunge scene, Pearl Jam won over fans with their heartfelt lyrics and dark, angry songs. As the years went by, and the Seattle scene faded, Pearl Jam’s songs seemed to develop into a more mature sound, which the media often approved of. Now, nine years after their first release, Ten, they are still running strong. So it’s no surprise this tour would be a success and prove them to be just as great as they’ve always been.
Pearl Jam’s current tour recently brought them to Florida, where they played to a full house at the Ice Palace. Opening was long time rockers Sonic Youth. Now, I must give Sonic Youth the respect that they deserve, because they have been around the music scene, almost as long as I’ve been alive. They have more than enough albums to show for it, as well. So I do give them credit for that, but I guess I am just not a Sonic Youth kind of kid. Their songs sounded like a bunch of instrumental chaos with a whole lot of feedback. I spoke with multiple fans about their performance that night, and they had the same opinion. I did hear good things, however, about their “secret” show the previous night in downtown Orlando. It’s just not for me, though.
The roar of the crowd was almost deafening as Pearl Jam appeared on stage and almost immediately began their set. They ran through songs such as “Animal,” “Tremor Christ,” and “Nothing as it Seems,” the single from their latest album, Binaural. At first it didn’t seem like a Pearl Jam concert; the floor was all seating and it seemed as though not a single person was moving. Never had I imagined a concert like this to be so calm. It did not take long, however, for the crowd to liven up to “Jeremy” and “Better Man,” singing so loudly that it just about sent chills up my spine and tears to my eyes.
“I have one thing to ask of you, can you hear me? Do you want to sing?” Vedder asked of the crowd as he went into their version of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” It’s crazy to think that Pearl Jam could take an already amazing song and make it seem even more magical in their own way, but they did. By this time, they probably played everyone’s favorites including “Daughter,” “Evenflow,” and “State of Love and Trust.” The set list seemed to include almost every great song from every album. There was an even selection of songs from each album, which was nice if you weren’t really into their newer material. It was almost my dream Pearl Jam setlist.
In their encores, they performed “Evolution,” “Garden,” “Soldier of Love,” and “Porch,” among others. At one part towards the end of the show, Eddie came out with a ukulele and tried to hush the crowd down, pointing out that “this is a little instrument against a big crowd… and it doesn’t stand a chance.” This was probably one of the most amazing things that I’ve ever seen at a concert. Just Eddie Vedder — in a spotlight, softly singing to a quiet but incredibly large crowd. After which he left the stage, only to come out one last time with the rest of the guys to cover Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
This Pearl Jam show was incredible. I had seen them last time they toured, and was impressed, but nothing compared to this one. It was as though they made out a greatest hits set list. My only disappointment was not hearing the well-known hit “Alive,” but hey, you can’t have it all.