Mother Nature almost forced the cancellation of the first show of the 2010 season at Verizon Wireless. Tornado warnings and inclement weather kept concertgoers in the parking lot well past the start time for Friday's Pearl Jam / Band of Horses show. When the all clear was sounded, a disaster of another sort went down.
When 20,000 people who had been waiting in their cars getting drunk and drunker finally converged on the shed, the meeting was catastrophic. 20-person-wide lines that snaked from the parking lot to the box office seemed never-ending. It was chaotic, disorganized and a bit scary.
Pearl Jam made it to the stage around 10 p.m., arriving before a crowd that was ready to rock. But the band had other plans, and started out with a slow dirge, "Release," before bumping up the energy with a furious rip through their back catalogue that contained fan favorites "Elderly Woman behind the Counter in a Small Town," "Daughter" and "Better Man."
The rest of set was heavy on material from Ten (which was recently reissued in a 20th anniversary edition), and the band's newest studio album, Backspacer. "Even Flow" was a marvel and other Ten warhorses like "Once," "Jeremy" and "Why Go" rested easily with new songs like "The Fixer," "Force of Nature" and "Get Some."
They sprinkled in a disappointingly funk-less version of "Back Home in Indiana" and a nice "Blitzkrieg Bop," but otherwise played to their audience, proving that they are still a vital concern.
Eddie Vedder wasn't as mouthy as he normally is, his oft-times stultifying speeches cut short by the late start and the pressing need to get everything in. The show turned out to be one of the best I've ever seen by the band in Indiana. And you can't go wrong when Pearl Jam ends a show with "Alive," "Baba O'Riley" and "Yellow Ledbetter."
Pearl Jam at VWMC, May 7
Pearl Jam (and Band of Horses) perform at Verizon Wireless Music Center Friday, May 7. Photos by Christian Doellner.