Pearl Jam Concert Review (Montreal)
Pearl Jam kicked off their 20th anniversary tour last week with a bang. Chris Cornell joined the Seattle rock band and reunited, for the PJ20 festival at least, Temple of The Dog. This Wednesday, the band began their Canadian tour by making their first stop in Montreal.
Upon entering the Bell Center, one thing thing stood out immediately; The general admission (a.k.a floor) area had assigned seating instead of being an open area setting you'd expect from a rock show. Was Pearl Jam going to strip their performance down and play an acoustic set? Nope!
This answer was clear the moment Mudhoney, the opening act, came on stage. They were loud, they were hard-hitting but unfortunately, they were also a mess, an ear sore and they failed to capture the attention of those in attendance. The volume was way too high for every instrument which muffled their sound. As much as I wanted to appreciate the fact that one of the fathers of grunge was jamming in the same room I was in, I found myself wishing I had brought earplugs with me instead.
In a Ying Yang equilibrium, Pearl Jam came out and quickly played the soft and mellow Elderly Woman Behind The Counter in a Small Town, essentially, the polar opposite of what Mudhoney had just ejected out of the speakers. Despite their intro and the seating arrangements, Pearl Jam's set was a pure rock show. Their sound wasn't overly loud nor was it muffled; Having Eddie Vedder's crystal clear vocals echoing in the arena didn't hurt either.
After a short hour or so, Pearl Jam left the stage leaving the crowd demanding much more. They returned for the first of two encores which increased the show's length to a more adequate, two and a half hours, give or take. The first encore included Even Flow, Black, and a cover of Joe Strummer's Arms Aloft. In between songs, Eddie Vedder took out a piece of paper from a Montreal newspaper that he cut out earlier in the day. He began to read his horoscope to the crowd:
"Avoid people.." he paused briefly as the crowd began to laugh. Eddie continued: ".. and places that depress you." Vedder's horoscope ended adequately with the words: "Go where the music is playing and the people are laughing".
The band left again following an exceptional performance of Porch. This time, the crowd chanted louder than ever for the group to return. Eddie came back, almost teary eyed at the ovation, and promised that he'd return to Montreal much sooner next time and told the fans that he chose the right city to begin the tour in. Eddie was considerably drunk by that point but his vocals remained as clear and coherent as they were in the beginning of night. Pearl Jam began the second encore with Better Man, then performed the Victoria Williams' tune Crazy Mary, followed by Alive. They closed the night with Yellow Ledbetter.
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Pearl Jam didn't rely much on their big hits throughout the night: For every Black, Daughter, and The Fixer, there were the lesser popular Glorified G, Insignificance and Severed Hand. While this can be seen as a good thing, I couldn't help but feel like the Montreal set was considerably weaker than their weekend birthday bash.
Pearl Jam is currently touring Canada before heading down south to Brazil to finish off their birthday tour.