Luckily, lightning didn’t strike twice, but Pearl Jam did for their two night run in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
22-Aug-2016: The last time Pearl Jam performed at Wrigley Field, a lightning storm plagued them, causing severe delays meaning the show went on until 2 am. This time around, they had two shows scheduled with the possibility of storms haunting them. It was a close call for the first show, but luckily the bad weather hit before they took the stage. For the second show, however, you couldn’t have asked for a sunnier day to enjoy an outdoor gig the best way you can – sunglasses on and a beer in your hand.
Some fans were lucky enough to make it to both shows. Pearl Jam is renowned for never playing the same setlist twice. Eddie Vedder chooses the songs he feels suit the occasion not long before each show. The randomness of live material makes it all the more fun for those fans who follow the band around the country, seeing multiple shows.
Whilst there were major differences in the two setlists, each more than 30 tracks strong, fans that only made it to one of the nights still got to hear the big hits, such as “Jeremy” and “Better Man” amongst others.
Monday night’s setlist covered some of the bands’ classic songs, incorporating “Even Flow,” “Alive,” and “Yellow Ledbetter” as well their covers of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World” and Wayne Cochran’s “Last Kiss.” Also thrown into the mix were songs spanning almost every album from their entire back catalog.
The sheer passion and enthusiasm of the band were clearly visible for all to see as they lapped up the atmosphere. Vedder often looked lost in the music, even paying homage to his hero, Pete Townsend, windmilling on his guitar during “Better Man.” Emotions seemed to be running high both on and off the stage, causing Vedder to stop their performance of “Lukin” to get security to intervene with a situation brewing in the General Admission pit. After this interlude, they made sure to finish their song, before going straight into the aptly timed “Mind Your Manners.”
The show went on for more than three hours, with neither the band nor the audience waning once. Rock concerts typically flow through peaks and troughs as the band changes the pace of the music. This was not the case with Pearl Jam. The energy level remained high with the excitement of hearing songs seldom performed to their biggest hits. The night included a guest appearance by Dennis Rodman, who joined them on stage as they sang “Black, Red, Yellow,” lifting Vedder up into his arms as he sang.
Wrigley also had the pleasure of seeing Stone Gossard get behind the microphone to take over the vocals for “Don’t Gimme No Lip,” which was warmly received by the ecstatic crowd.
Throughout the night, Mike McCready helped to bring the songs alive with his guitar work and in particular his solos, which, as usual, demonstrated his emotion and technicality along with some raw power. The huge stage was not big enough to contain him, as he jumped down to the pit to be closer to the audience during his “Even Flow” solo.
Underpinning every song, as always, was the rock solid foundation of Jeff Ament and Matt Cameron, ably supported by Boom Gaspar, who added an extra dimension on keys.
While Pearl Jam is a band who came out of the Seattle scene in the nineties, there has always been a deep bond with Chicago due to Vedder being born in the city and his love of all things Chicago and the local sports team. His particular fondness for the Cubs makes a Pearl Jam performance at Wrigley Field feel all the more special.
As the tour is coming to a close, with only two dates left, tickets will be difficult to find. If you are lucky enough to be attending either show, you are in for a treat.