Arts & Life
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This article was published 17/9/2011 (3217 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Don't ever let it be said Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder isn't a generous guy.
Not only did he and his band give a rowdy crowd of 12,200 at the MTS Centre exactly what they wanted Saturday, the vocalist shared a few bottles of wine with fans at various points during the show.
His willingness to pass around his wine was one of numerous highlights during a 27-song, 21/2-hour set filled with standout moments.
It was Pearl Jam's first visit to Winnipeg since 2005, and as they have done their entire 20-year career, the band didn't stick to a script. Instead of playing the same set night after night, the group tailors each set to the city they're playing in, so the set list in Winnipeg is different than previous shows in any other city.
There was no way to predict what was coming next: They played whatever they wanted, which turned out to be a huge treat for fans.
And this was a show for the fans who have stuck with the band over the years -- instead of just cherry-picking hits, the band pulled out album tracks, rarities and covers from the likes of Joe Strummer, the Stooges and Neil Young.
There were no gimmicks or fancy stage tricks either. The only prop was a simple backdrop of animated speakers resembling dominos and an efficient light show. The band walked on stage just before 9 p.m., picked up their instruments, waved to the crowd and launched into Why Go off their 1991 debut Ten.
The crowd was on its feet instantly singing, and got even more animated for Animal and the driving All Night off the Lost Dogs album of B-sides and unreleased material. All Night was so good you had to wonder why it was left off the No Code album.
Vedder is the obvious focal point of the live show and has the most animated stage presence as he jumped in the air doing scissor kicks, banged his head while leaning back with the microphone stand and getting out onto the barrier to sing. He was drinking wine throughout the show, but it didn't seem to have an effect on his voice, which remains powerful and passionate. He spent half the night with a guitar in his hand, adding an extra dimension to the group's guitar attack.
And what an attack. Guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard were given plenty of chances to show off their skills during extended jams, most notably during a thrilling version of Even Flow and Crazy Mary, a slow, subdued number that built a roaring climax. And with or without Vedder on guitar, it was a wall of sound during heavier numbers like Comatose, Corduroy and the punky new song, Ole.
Bassist Jeff Ament was equally animated as he stalked the stage while staying locked into a groove with drummer Matt Cameron.
"All right, live from Winnipeg, it's Saturday night," Vedder said early on to rev up the crowd, who didn't really need any more help in that department. The audience was clearly ready to party and Pearl Jam offered the perfect soundtrack with a mixture of ballads, balls-out rockers and life-affirming anthems that showed off the its diversity.
The set ebbed and flowed throughout the night with the lovely ballad Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town and Daughter sharing space with the more muscular Green Disease, Unthought Known and Once.
For the second time in three days, the crowd at an MTS Centre concert chanted "Go Jets Go," after Vedder congratulated the city on getting its National Hockey League team back. He even got in on the act and sang, "Go Jets Go," while playing his acoustic guitar before dedicating Just Breathe to Winnipeg Jets defenceman Randy Jones and his girlfriend.
Winnipeg got another nod when the band covered Young's Rockin' in the Free World before ending things off on a somber note with the ballad Indifference.
Pearl Jam showed some loyalty to their old friends in Mudhoney by choosing the Seattle legends to open the night (Ament and Gossard used to play with Mudhoney's Mark Arm and Steve Turner in the pioneering grunge group Green River).
Mudhoney's 45-minute set ranged from their earliest 1988 singles to their most recent albums. The band sound exactly like their name implies: distorted and raw Stooges-influenced rawk with a slight sweet side.
Anthems Touch Me I'm Sick, In SSRqN' Out of Grace and You Got It (Keep It Out of My Face) were three of the highlights, along with a sludgy version of Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More, the punkish Tales of Terror - with frontman Arm doing his best Iggy Pop impression -- and their version of the Dicks' Hate the Police.
It was the band's first time in the city in its 23-year career, and while seeing them at a bar would have been preferable, they probably won't ever be around here again so we'll take them wherever we can see them.
Sept. 17, 2011
HHHHH (FIVE) out of HHHHH
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