Review: Rock giants Pearl Jam at BST Hyde Park

Wednesday, 13th July — By Danny Cage

BST_PEARL JAM_photo @sophiejouvenaar-127

Pearl Jam at British Summer Time Festival, Hyde Park. Photo: @sophiejouvenaar

US ROCK giants Pearl Jam returned to the capital at the weekend for delayed BST Hyde Park shows that many feared would never happen thanks to Covid.

Although some questionable set-list choices dampened the excitement in the early going, Eddie Vedder and his Merry Men nonetheless rallied in a powerful final stretch that sent the huge crowd home happy.

Opening with a slow burn Better Man, followed by an anecdote about Camden bootleg tape sellers the band would visit in their early days, the initial signs were good.

But while headlining twice in two nights might be great for superfans with deep pockets it meant a number of crowdpleasers were notably absent – so on July 8 no Black or Rearviewmirror and surprisingly little from their 2020 return-to-form album Gigaton. It didn’t help that main support Pixies set a high bar, tearing through 18 fiery punk pop classics from their unmatched back catalogue.

Still, Earnest Eddie remains one of rock’s most endearing frontmen and business picked up at the halfway point with an extended Evenflow and Daughter – interwoven with W.M.A. and support act Cat Power’s Good Woman – soon after.

An energised encore saw Vedder bring out Pete Townshend’s brother Simon for a very Who-esque I’m the Answer; Jeremy, Indifference and Alive followed.

In a nod to Wimbledon, John McEnroe rather randomly came on to play guitar for a blistering Rocking in the Free World – the best Pearl Jam song the band never wrote.

After the past couple of years of pandemic turmoil, it seemed fitting to finish with a number played by Neil Young on the same stage in 2019. Some 33 years on from its release, the song’s message feels more vital than ever.

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