April 16, 2016
Bon Secours Wellness Arena
Reviewed by Joseph Hett
Pearl Jam Keeps The Record Spinning In Greenville
Pearl Jam brought a very unique show to the sold-out Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Saturday night in Greenville, SC. There had been a buzz in the air ever since the Pearl Jam show was announced earlier this year. Would Pearl Jam mix it up? Would they play all the hits? Would they play nothing but deep cuts? What songs will they cover? Will they do something unique? We would get all of the answers to those questions Saturday night.
Pearl Jam fans, who were often total strangers, were introducing themselves to each other as they were finding their seats before the show. Once a conversation got going, it was almost like they had known each other for years. There was a common bond between Pearl Jam fans when they got to sharing their Pearl Jam concert going stories. Actor and former WWE Superstar Adam “Edge” Copeland, a noted huge Pearl Jam fan, was even spotted making his way into the arena.
The band included original Pearl Jam members Eddie Vedder (vocals and rhythm guitar), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar) and Jeff Ament (bass), along with longtime members Matt Cameron, also of Soundgarden, on drums and Boom Gaspar (keyboard).
It was a unique end stage setup with the seats open behind the stage. The fans behind the stage would later be surprised with an intimate performance by the band. What looked like a metallic thorn bush hung above the stage.
The band came onstage and cranked out “Corduroy” from 1994’s “Vitalogy” album. The crowd anxiously awaited on what was coming next. Would Pearl Jam continue the route of previous setlists or would they be Pearl Jam? Well, we got Pearl Jam.
The second song was “Go” followed by “Animal” and the acoustic “Daughter.” What did these three songs have in common? They were all from the classic “Vs.” album from 1993, and they just all happened to be in order like the album.
At this point in the show, hardcore Pearl Jam fans started to whisper – or yell due to the arena’s volume – to one another that Pearl Jam could actually do something very rare – play a whole album.
The suspicions were soon confirmed when Pearl Jam continued down the “Vs.” brick road with “Glorified G” and “Dissident.” This was really happening. After the intro of every song, there was an eruption because the audience knew Pearl Jam was making history.
Pearl Jam systematically played all 12 tracks from “Vs.” During “Leash,” Vedder took off his “leash” and walked around the pit area with the wireless mic. They ended the album set with “Indifference.” They didn’t tell the capacity crowd that they were going to play the whole album, it just happened – all in the moment.
They then continued the set with the newer fast-paced tune “Mind Your Manners.”
Vedder commented that it was Record Store Day and thanked Gene Berger from Greenville’s own Horizon Records (celebrating their 40th anniversary this year). They then cranked out a couple of record related songs, “Let The Records Play” and “Spin The Black Circle.”
It was humorous when Vedder would speak about specific people in the crowd and random people would stand up to be recognized even through it wasn’t them. Vedder would say “F—— imposter” and stuff like that.
They closed the main set out with “Do The Evolution” and then left the stage.
They came back out, as expected, and played “Future Days.” Vedder said that the first performance in the arena – back when it opened in 1998 – was Janet Jackson. Pearl Jam was the second act to play there. Vedder continued, “No disrespect to Miss Jackson, but we were the first band.” They then went into “Nothingman.”
Before “Present Tense,” Vedder had a heartfelt conversation about current affairs in America. He said, “Seems like a lot of the attitudes are from people who don’t really know what it’s like to be a different kind of person (race, religion, sexual orientation, the current North Carolina bathroom issue).” The audience gave a roaring ovation to Vedder’s speech. “These are all kind of things that we need to accept and not fight about,” Vedder added.
They played a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” McCready was phenomenal on the guitar solo – David Gilmour would have been envious. They would later do another classic rock cover with The Who’s “Baba O’Riley.”
Signs were featured on the projector screens that read “My 5th show/My 50th show.” Vedder saw a sign saying “My first concert,” and he jokingly said, “You should see Janet Jackson, she’s really good.”
“Porch” from the groundbreaking “Ten” album closed out the first encore. Glowing beach looking balls dropped down from the rafters above the stage. Vedder jumped in the pit and was held up by fans with tour security nearby.
When they came back out for the second encore, Vedder mentioned that today marked the 25th anniversary for the super group Temple Of The Dog. They then turned around and played “Last Kiss” for the audience behind the stage. Vedder said this was for the band to reminisce about the days when they would play intimate venues. McCready climbed up to the seats to let people touch his guitar.
The show was coming to a close and they decided to close out on a high note with the classics “Better Man,” “Alive” and “Yellow Ledbetter.” They took a bow and left the stage to a standing ovation – even though everyone stood throughout the entire three-hour set.
Years from now Pearl Jam fans that were in attendance of this show will be saying that they were in Greenville in 2016 when Pearl Jam played the “Vs.” record in its entirety. That was Pearl Jam’s goal – to make the show memorable.
Yes, it was disappointing that they didn’t perform more of the “Ten” album classics like “Black,” “Even Flow” and “Jeremy.” But that is what to expect at a Pearl Jam show – you never know what you’re going to get.
It was an experience to witness Pearl Jam play an entire record live. The musicianship of Pearl Jam was phenomenal. That’s why this show will be talked about within the Pearl Jam community for a long time to come. Pearl Jam switches up setlists nightly to change it up. To reward the loyal and repeat fans that have seen them multiple time. They want to challenge their musicianship by playing many different songs on any given night. They have witnessed other bands who play the same old stuff night after night. Pearl Jam isn’t into that, and we all saw that Saturday night.