If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out
May 1, 2008, 1:18 am
Filed under: Pearl Jam | Tags: , , ,

Or, Why Eddie Vedder Is Fast Becoming One Of The Great American Singer-Songwriters

Onstage in Berkerly, CA

This was the philosophy adopted by Eddie Vedder as he recently travelled down the west coast on his first ever solo tour, for 15 stripped down appearances in tiny sold-out venues.

Armed with only a few guitars, ukeleles, a mondolin and a corona case-come-kick drum, Vedder showcased material from his critically acclaimed soundtrack to Into The Wild, as well as deep cuts from the Pearl Jam catalogue and a host of covers from singer-songwriters that acted as inspiration for the trek, including Dylan, Springsteen, Cat Stevens and more.

If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out

Each song was performed admirably, Vedder’s guitar playing sounding more accomplished with each passing year, and the presence of Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, Mike McCready and Matt Cameron was not missed on the stripped down versions of PJ hits such as Porch and I Am Mine.

Setting Forth

While some fans were dissapointed not to hear certain songs, Vedder made sure to stick to tunes that fit the environment – When one fan requested Pearl Jam b-side Dirty Frank at a show – a funky RHCP-esqe workout performed only 3 times in the bands’ near 20 year history, he quipped – “Our band doesn’t even play that, and I’m sittin’ here with a fuckin’ Mandolin!”

Audience interaction was plentiful, with a number of stories relating to the cities he was playing in, as well as funny anicdotes, as opposed to the political speeches that often adorn PJ sets, added to the intimacy of the shows.

There was also plenty of time for experimentation along the way, with Vedder using loops and tapes to recreate Arc, the acapella tribute to the nine fans who lost their lives at a 2000 show in Roskilde, Denmark, and the Indio cover Hard Sun, where he was joined each night by openers EJ & Liam Finn, all dressed in long white lab overcoats, as if to emphasise the fact that this was no ordinary show.

And then there were the special guests – as the tour moved down the coast from Seattle to San Diego, Ed was joined onstage by Jerry Hannah (the writer of Society, another Into The Wild cover), bandmate Mike Mcready (for Hendrix-esque freakouts on All Along The Watchtower and regular PJ closer Yellow Ledbetter), Sean Penn (to read a poem for his wife), surfing buddy Ben Harper (to duet on anti-war anthem No More), former PJ drummer Jack Irons (ironically for a cover of Last Kiss, made famous by Pearl Jam just after they recorded a version of it with then new drummer Matt Cameron) and Emile Hirsch (the actor who brought the songs to life in ITW) to name a few.

And of course, no Eddie Vedder tour would be complete without the odd rarity dropped in here and there, to send internet fans into spasms of shock and joy; In San Diego, Vedder sang an original song last performed in 1989 with his old band Bad Radio, unheard in nearly 20 years, followed the next night by a cover of an early Who song, Let My Love Open The Door, a much loved gem last performed by Pearl Jam in the summer of 1995.

All of this added up to a series of unmissable shows showcasing Vedder’s range of musical talents, that indicate there may yet be a future for him as a solo artist, although few would wish to see him quit his day job just yet.

Download: Eddie Vedder @ Zellerbach Theatre, Berkeley, CA Part One / Part Two

Photo Credit: Carlos Avila Gonzalez

Feedback: What did you think of the article? Did you agree with what was said, or do you take a different view? If you were one of the lucky few who were able to attend a show on the tour, what were your impressions of the gigs? Leave a comment and share your views…


4 Comments so far
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Hey. I’ve been a Pearl Jam fan for over a decade now, I searched for some articles on wordpress and found yours.

The article is very good in overall. Some details here and there about the show are very entertaining. I wouldn’t say the “Into the Wild” album was a “Critical Acclaim” ( Vitalogy and No Code for example, had much more of a critical acclaim than this… and even Stone Gossard’s Bayleaf had better reviews ). I’ve seen pretty negative reviews of Ed’s album, actually. The overall album’s charm *AND* weakness lies in its simplicity… Let’s face it, Ed’s most “complete” songs are either Indio’s “Hard Sun” or the co-written “Society”. I wouldn’t say this is my top 10 album. I also wouldn’t go as far as to say that Eddie is talented in the instrumental department either, heh… Let’s just say he’s just a little better than… Kurt Cobain. But he’s nothing compared to his Pearl Jam buddies. Sorry to dissapoint you for that part.

But don’t get me wrong… Since I am a PJ fan, I own the album, and I like it ( in fact I like it more than anything that has been recorded after Binaural ( which I consider a very underestimated album by the fans ) ). Eddie has the eternal voice of the 90s… He represents the 90s to me. Yet he still finds ways to renew himself, and shape his voice like in the song titled “The Wolf” which could have been ever better if Eddie had made it a little longer with some more juice. I think Eddie made the best album he could at the time. However, he could’ve easily tried to make an epic album instead with the many friends he has in the music business. I must say I admire his modesty on this album. He took it all by himself, mostly. He probably told himself it would be wiser to do something simple and see how it turns out first. I expect him to make more solo albums in the future, and I expect those albums to be much better than Into the Wild. However, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that he is becoming a great singer/songwriter. He is already a great, if not one of the greatest singers… But he is far from competing with the solo compositions of ex-band singers like John Lennon, Neil Young, David Gilmour, etc… If you call those guys great singer-songwriters, then Eddie is not one of them… Yet! Let’s just be patient and I am sure he will turn out as one of the greats.

The article ends with a note about the possibility of Pearl Jam quitting. You know, I’ve known PJ since No Code, and I’ve mostly loved them in their more experimental, different albums like Vitalogy, No Code, Yield and Binaural. Riot Act was the biggest dissapointment to me. I barely listen to it nowadays. In fact, I hate it. A PJ album was produced every 2 years at that point and it seemed like they had been pressuring themselves. I prefer the patience of other bands like Tool, for example, who usually take 3 to 5 years before producing another album – and their albums are so great! Perhaps Pearl Jam were pressured by their record label, that I do not know.

The self titled album was the turning point for me. I believe that self titled album meant Pearl Jam had found its limits. It’s like a man who travels all around the Earth and ends up in his hometown in the end. Thus the self titled album. The sound was similar to V.S. and Vitalogy, yet another proof that the album was a “return to the source” one. They tried to find their old days within this album. V.S. was all about rebellion, denouncing deep social problems and situations and so on. Let’s face it – Pearl Jam are now millionaires. It’s hard for rich people to connect with the deep, bad reality after some time. I hate to say it, but what Pearl Jam became in the recent years are cheap Bono wannabes ( and I hate Bono ). In the recent albums, it seems to me like Pearl Jam are having more fun themselves in their recording studio than we are while listening them.

However, their performance in shows is incredible. Epic would be the word. I can’t say anything bad about Pearl Jam in live shows. They play longer than… Well I’ve rarely seen a band playing longer than Pearl Jam, period. They connect with people – not just Eddie, although he truly has something that inspires people.

I am sure that Eddie gained the crowd easily in this show, like always, because the people who come to him are already conquered fans ( and I don’t say that in a bad way ).

They are already a band that is, or will be very soon established as one of the greatest band of rock music. I believe it would be best for them to either take a ~5 year break or to simply end the Pearl Jam journey. Plus, it could provide some more solo material from the different band members. I’d be curious to see something made by Mike McCready. Also, Stone Gossard’s stuff would be entertaining.

I look forward to your upcoming updates. I’ll add your blog to my favs. Good work!

Comment by Rusty

Loved your old site, Army Reserve. Glad to see a true fan, which is rare for an Oklahoman to come across. The other guy that made the comments has not a clue what a fan is. Bitchn about how long PJ plays? Bitchn about making a new ablum? Come on dude.
Anyways, keep up the great work….

Comment by Jason

I was checking out my old comments and saw your reply. You obviously did not read my comment the way it was meant to be. I complimented Pearl Jam by saying that they were playing for a very long time during live shows. I am a Pearl Jam fan, yes. I am one of those who see reality just like they do in most of their lyrics. I am true in my opinions, just like they are true themselves as artists and, I’m sure, as human beings. I love them enough to tell them that it is time for renewal. I want them out outdo themselves. I want the best for them. This is the difference between you and I.

Comment by Rusty

hey- great article. i saw the solo show in NYC, which was amazing. i am desperately trying to find any of the solo shows online to be downloaded or ordered, with no luck. do you know anyway i can find bootlegsany of the shows as they are not available on pearl jams website? thanks!

Comment by airianne

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