Music Review by Jamie Homer
Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada – 12 August 2008
Tonight Pearl Jam front man, grunge legend and all around good guy Eddie Vedder played the first of two sold out shows at Toronto’s legendary Massey Hall. The venue, initially made famous in 1971 when Neil Young played a very similar solo gig, offered up the most perfect forum to embrace and love Vedder, who played, engaged, laughed, heckled and sang for the adoring and loyal fans for over two and a half hours.
Opening up with WALKING THE COW, by Daniel Johnson, Vedder would then walk us through an eclectic and well thought out set list including some classic pearl jam tunes like SOMETIMES, WISHLIST, PORCH, GIVEN TO FLY, I AM MINE & LAST KISS, some varied covers such as THE SEEKER by the Who, YOU’VE GOT TO HIDE YOUR LOVE AWAY by the Beatles, LONG MAY YOU RUN by Neil Young as well as select tunes from his Into the Wild soundtrack, like Society (with Liam Finn who supported him) and he closed the evening with HARD SUN.
Clearly Eddie Vedder is a musical genius, historically and culturally important for being a pioneer of the grunge movement and is both well received and well respected in the music community. But he also is a fantastic and inspiring presence on stage. Sitting alone, with nothing but guitars and his glass of wine must be daunting to the man who normal fronts one of the world’s greatest and most influential bands of all time. And Eddie is not perfect either, he stumbles now and then, he forgets the odd line or chord of his guitar. But this does not matter. In fact, it makes us like him even more. And what’s more, he is also a story teller and part-time comedian. When my buddy sitting next to me loudly shouted “Hey Eddie, what band are you in”, he simply replied: “The Stone Temple Pilots”, quickly putting an end to that heckle session. He tells a story of nearly peeing on Massey Hall during last year’s Toronto Film Festival and some random homeless guy on a bike who seems to have lost his wooden leg, and politely asks us to keep our eyes open in case we happen to see it. It is these random interludes in between tunes that endears us to Eddie, and keeps Massey Hall’s 3000 sold out crowd dead silent as we listen intently to what he will offer us next.
But my favourite part of the night is how the gig seems to gain in momentum and speed as we move along in the night. Eddie becomes funnier and more engaged with us as he finishes each tune, and I think he played nearly 30 of them! He becomes more comfortable in his chair. He allows the crowd to sing along loudly to WISHLIST and LAST KISS, and in fact, acknowledges just how talented we all are as singers. After the first encore, he returns to the stage visibly shaken and gesturing that we are giving him goose bumps by our loud reception, and the soreness of my throat this morning attests to just how loud we were!
For a man in his position, with the uncanny amount of love and praise he must garner everywhere he goes, he is very humble, there is no arrogance with him, and you sense he truly enjoys and loves what he does. He even alludes to this when he speaks about how we are not making this feel at all like work for him.
Eddie I saw you ten years ago in Seattle, I saw you this summer when you headlined Bonnaroo and I saw you last night by yourself. Each time I’ve seen you I left a bigger fan that when I arrived. Last night is no different. In fact, I have done nothing today except sing the words to SOCIETY in my head…over and over and over…. Thanks man for last night!