Pearl Jam Come ‘Alive’ in Philadelphia [Review + Photos]
When a legendary band like Pearl Jam comes to your town, what else do you say to yourself except, “We’re going!” With their 2016 tour dates announced and sold out shows across the country, Pearl Jam set out from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. on April 8 to blaze a trail. Making their way up the Eastern Coast and stopping in Philadelphia on April 28 for a consecutive two night extravaganza at the Wells Fargo Center, the band celebrated 25 years of existence, rebellion, and rock n’ roll.
Pearl Jam has a special connection to Philadelphia as the Wells Fargo Center, once known as the First Union Center (Spectrum Arena), was where they played an incredible four nights, and the last two consecutive shows in late October of 2009 before the venue was demolished, a historic event in Philadelphia history. They returned again in 2013 playing two nights in a row and giving a rare interview to Philly’s beloved local radio station, WMMR, while shouting out three of the DJs from the stage during the second night. Now, in 2016, the band returned to play another two consecutive nights, and to show the crowd more than just a good time, but also what Philadelphia means to them.
Concertgoers waited outside the venue for hours in the cold, drizzling rain attempting to score tickets to the sold out Pearl Jam show, but no one was about to give up their seats. By the time doors opened at 7:30 and the line around the building was let in, there was not an empty spot to be found. By the time 8:30 rolled around, the crowd filled the Wells Fargo Center to the brim, the house music suddenly stopped and the lights dimmed.
A shadowy figure, Eddie Vedder, entered from stage left, picking up the bottle of red wine that had been set there for him by a guitar technician while the rest of the band followed in suit. Taking their respective places on stage, the familiar intro to the song “Once” from the acclaimed Ten album began to play. Mike McCready and Stone Gossard’s guitars rang out in harmony as Eddie Vedder sang to the crowd, rocking back and forth, holding the microphone. Jeff Ament, with his bass thumping, could be seen plucking away through the round, glass lights that were hanging down on the stage for mood lighting. Matt Cameron taking center stage on his drum kit, pounded away as the band moved into their next song “Animal" from their sophomore album, Vs, all the while Boom Gaspar pawed at his keyboard, dimly lit in the back of the stage.
As the night continued, the band played for an incredible three hours, returning for two encores and covering songs from ten different albums, playing 32 songs in total, making for an unbelievable evening. Fans went wild as they heard their favorites from Pearl Jam’s first album Ten like “Alive” and “Even Flow”, then others such as “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” and “Rearviewmirror” from Vs. to the band's newer songs off of Lightning Bolt -- “Mind Your Manners” and the title track. At no point during the set was there a dull moment, either, as the band returned for their first encore.
Eddie Vedder took the opportunity to give a shout out to a couple who had decided to push up their marriage date to the day of the concert, and then delivered an acoustic cover of “Picture in a Frame” by Tom Waits. That wasn't the only cover of the night, as they also played “Crown Of Thorns” and “Chloe Dancer” by Mother Love Bone, which was Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard's pre-Pearl Jam band, as well “Crazy Mary”, a song originally done by Victoria Williams and recorded by Pearl Jam for a Sweet Relief compilation. The crowd danced, sang, and drank with the band, literally, as Eddie Vedder threw out tambourines and handed his bottle of red wine to the crowd during the end of the second encore. With the night coming to an end, and Vedder now adorning a robe of the American Flag, the familiar tune of Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s “F--kin’ Up” rang out as the band ended the evening with another cover.
The magic that occurred that evening with Pearl Jam was something that could only be truly appreciated by those who were there to have experienced it; to have felt and to have heard it. It is not something that can be transcribed, but rather a moment that will live on forever with those who were there to attend. With more tour dates on the horizon set for the East Coast and on into Canada, more people will be able to experience what was felt in Philadelphia on April 28, 2016. After 25 years, not only can Pearl Jam still put on one heck of a show, but they can also do it with a passion.
Check out our photos from Pearl Jam's appearance at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center above and look for the band on tour at these stops.
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