Pearl Jam Return to Form at Voters For Choice Benefit

The band blew away the tiny Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

October 29, 1998
Pearl Jam perform in Washington, DC.
Pearl Jam perform in Washington, DC.
Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect

Pearl Jam
Constitution Hall
Washington, D.C.
September 19th, 1998

Right down the street from the White House, Eddie Vedder was probably the second most nervous man in town. Pearl Jam hadn't toured in a couple of years, and expectations were high for this Voters for Choice benefit in the tiny 3,700-seat Constitution Hall. But the band's unzipped gusto blew all doubts away – after an introduction from host Gloria Steinem, ">Pearl Jam simply grunged the house. The whole band seemed to be in high spirits; during "Alive," Vedder grinned jovially and paced the stage with a tambourine full of condoms, tossing them to the crowd and rakishly tucking one into his own pocket.

Vedder strapped on a guitar for a beautifully fragile "Wishlist," and as he sang the line about 15 million hands praying to the sky, the entire crowd lifted its arms, inspiring another one of his sheepish smiles. The affection between band and fans was electric, and the guitars just kept roiling until the climax, Arthur Alexander's R&B oldie "Soldier of Love." Pearl Jam have grown flexible enough to do justice to their passion, and they've wisely muscled up their moral force instead of trying to embrace an au courant irony that has nothing to do with them. They also look better than ever, which really does matter when you're a rock star. As Vedder slipped off his natty suit jacket, the teenage girl in front of me screamed, "Take it all off!" He didn't, but he did sing "Daughter," which made her even happier.

This story is from the October 29th, 1998 issue of Rolling Stone.

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

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.


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


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 »