.

Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder Rock Denver, Rail Against Bush

Not a lot of hits, but plenty of big, bad rock & roll

Eddie Vedder
Martin Philbey/Redferns
May 1, 2003

Pearl Jam
Pepsi Center

Denver, Colorado
April 1st, 2003

After meandering through a series of protest speeches and guerrilla pantomimes, Eddie Vedder found his anti-war voice at the very end of Pearl Jam's three-hour American-tour opener. Not surprisingly, it involved rocking, not talking – with a ferocious second-encore version of Neil Young's anthem "Rockin' in the Free World," which disparages the first President Bush's "kinder, gentler machine-gun hand."

Vedder was talkative, telling the crowd about a Vietnam War helicopter-pilot friend who "doesn't feel like we've evolved at all." When a fan tried to shout him down, the singer sharply responded, "Did someone just say shut up?" and gave a brief lecture on free speech. Later, during the band's 2002 political poem "Bushleaguer," Vedder danced in a George W. Bush mask, then stuck it on a mike stand and smashed it to the ground.

Those moments were interesting, but ultimately they distracted from the Seattle quintet's buzzing hard rock, as lean and tight as Vedder's new, near-crew-cut hairstyle. The band was confident enough to avoid the big hits – with brief exceptions for "Even Flow," "Corduroy" and "Daughter." A dancing, mike-stand-romancing Vedder was in fine voice, but the frequently retreated into the shadows, ceding the spotlight to Mike McCready's big-metal guitar solos.

Pearl Jam seemed thrilled to focus on newer and more obscure material. Smoking a cigarette and swigging from a bottle of red wine, Vedder lingered over the "love is all you need" lyrics from the opening "Love Boat Captain" and threw himself melodramatically into countryish ballads such as "Thin Air" and Victoria Williams' "Crazy Mary." But the band was really there to rock. Vedder can play all the electric ukuleles he wants; nothing in rock sounds quite like him channeling the Who's Roger Daltrey and Mudhoney's Mark Arm simultaneously on the anti-imperialist "Do the Evolution." Nobody shouted "Shut up!" during that one.

This story is from the May 1st, 2003 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com