LIVE: Pearl Jam, live at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne (20-11-09)

Pearl Jam. One of the most successful alternative rock bands in the world. On Friday the 20th of November, 2009, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to see them live. They did not disappoint.

Though we were seated in the stadium, and missed out on the feeling of being crushed against the barrier by hundreds of people and being within mere meters of the band (despite the notion sounding ridiculously uncomfortable and painful on paper, it really isn’t that bad, and is entirely worth it), we did have very good seats that provided us with an almost direct view of the stage and the two screens situated either side.

The first support act, Liam Finn, was very good. Though I’d only heard a few of his songs, the way in which he played his guitar parts, looped them around, and then went to play the drums and sing for a bit was very clever. He gave off so much energy while he was on stage, jumping up and down all the time, singing into the mic while practically lying down, and then leaping about with all sorts of instruments, he certainly got the crowd going and put a lot of effort in.

After about a half hour wait, Ben Harper and the Relentless 7 came on for their support slot. Having heard next to none of their songs, I was pleasantly surprised. Harper’s slide guitar playing was very skillful, and his voice practically radiated around the stadium. It was amazing, he managed to put so much emotion into his songs, while moving from the softer more delicate songs to vary his style throughout the set. Edit: It was during Ben Harper’s set that Vedder came out to join them in a rendition of Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie.

By the end of the support acts, the stadium was close to having filled up entirely. The front mosh section was absolutely packed.

It was about 8.30 when Pearl Jam came on, and it’ll come as no surprise that the crowd went crazy. Beginning with Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town, a brilliant acoustic number which contains one of the best moments for the crowd to join in on vocal duties, they continued to proceed through the majority of their most popular hits for the next 2 hours. Playing well known numbers such as Alive, Jeremy, Even Flow, and Daughter, amongst the many other songs they pulled out, it was impossible to go away from the concert being disappointed. Although I’m unfamiliar with some of their more obscure songs, as I only have a best of and a live album, I’m sure that they mixed up their set list and played some other fan favourites as well. With the number of songs they have up their sleeve, they have a stunning amount of freedom in terms of the material they play.

Initially after playing for about an hour, they left the stage and finished up. But as everyone there knew, it was merely a pretext for the next few encores that were to come. The first encore involved inviting Ben Harper out to cover Queen and David Bowie, with Under Pressure. (Edit: Sorry about that, got mixed up. Thanks for the correction) After playing another 8 odd songs I’d say, they left again, only to be called out by an enthusiastic and loving crowd for a few more. This time, Vedder invited Liam Finn out to do a duet, which was very good. It was great in the way he not only interacted with the crowd, telling stories and dedicating songs to people, but also in the way they involved the support acts in their own. They were so dedicated, that they continued playing until after the lights in the stadium were back on, normally an indication of a completed gig.

In the end, it was an amazing experience. They had so much energy, playing and running around for hours, and they involved the crowd as well. It’s really these kind of bands that put on a great show for their fans that are the good ones live. A brilliant concert, well worth the $100+ ticket price.