Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pearl Jam at Music Midtown

Well, oddly enough, this week marks the first time I’ve attended a Pearl Jam concert since I’ve been your humble blogger, so although I generally leave the reviewing to Stip, I am going to step out and share my thoughts on Pearl Jam’s performance this weekend at the Music Midtown festival in Atlanta. 

Photo by Jeff Farris
I had made up my mind early that I was not going to fight the crowd to get close to the band.  I’m a fan club member, and thus used to sitting very close, but I just can’t bring myself to push and shove 50,000 people to get to the rail or to pee in a bottle so that I can stand there for 4 hours prior to Pearl Jam’s appearance.  So, you can see from my pictures, that I enjoyed most of the show via jumbotron.  Oh, and to all those fans who pushed me out of the way so that you could find your friend who seemed to have been lost up at the front by the stage, I hope you found them.  At any rate, I ended up camped out next to some great fans from Miami, who were at their second Pearl Jam show ever and whose excitement was infectious.  Thanks, guys.

Much will be said about the setlist, but let me say this … this was a great performance.  Mike McCready was on fire the entire night, playing solos that have totally reinvented Ten for me.  Looking out at an ocean of fans lined up in front of Atlanta’s Midtown skyline clearly invigorated the band.  Mike and Ed both took several jaunts down into the aisle between the rail and the stage keeping the energy high.  Pearl Jam’s had a light year as far as touring goes, and it was clear they were going to extend whatever jam they could, keep the crowd singing, and just have a lot of fun.  They even crammed in what I believe was an unplanned performance of Alive, when they found that their finale would come up about a minute shy of their curfew.

Photo by Jeff Farris
There’s been some grumbling about the setlist, mostly from fans that weren’t at the show.  One fan even tweeted that it was the worst setlist in 22 years.  Was it my favorite?  Probably not, but I don’t see a lot of point in complaining that Pearl Jam played a hit-heavy set (2/3rds of the songs they played either appear on their greatest hits compilation or are singles from Backspacer) for a crowd who were there, not just for Pearl Jam, but for a whole set of musicians playing over the course of two days.  

What could have gone better? I’m a little disappointed that they skipped three whole albums (No Code, Binaural, and Pearl Jam) and only touched another (Riot Act) one time, but festival time constraints will do that.  Also, Ed’s discussion of voter ID laws in Georgia and the band’s cover of Know Your Rights (originally by the Clash) fell flat, but that mostly makes me sad for the fans, especially the woman near me screaming for Ed to shut up and making sure we all knew, “THIS SONG SUCKS!”  

Still, all-in-all, I’m home, and satisfied with my latest fix of live Pearl Jam, and a little sad that bootlegs are taking a little longer this year.