.

The Who and Pearl Jam Rock Chicago

Daltrey, Townshend and Vedder blast through five decades of hits

October 31, 2002

The Who/Pearl Jam
House of Blues
September 23rd, 2002
Chicago 

The world's most famous Who fan, Eddie Vedder, was not feeling particularly cocky as Pearl Jam opened for his idols at a sold-out $400-a-ticket charity show. "It takes a lot of guts to come onstage," he said, "when you know a guy named Pete Townshend is gonna come out later and wipe it with you."

But there was no reason for Vedder to apologize, as Pearl Jam roared through a brisk set that encompassed singalong favorites such as "Better Man" and "Last Kiss," a handful of tunes from their forthcoming album, Riot Act, and a garage-soul cover of the minor Motown hit "Leaving Here," first covered by Townshend and company in their incarnation as Mod-era rockers the High Numbers.

Then the decimated but still proud Who got down to business, less adventurous than Pearl Jam but more bullish. With John Entwistle recently joining the late Keith Moon on the permanent casualty list, Townshend and Roger Daltrey simply turned it up a notch to compensate. The guitarist windmilled power chords and machine-gunned clusters of notes, blazing new ground in standards such as "5:15," "Eminence Front" and "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere." Daltrey brayed not just with conviction but with a newfound sense of nuance, transforming "The Kids Are Alright" into a folk-rock hymn and investing "I Don't Even Know Myself," a 1971 B side, with a countryish lilt.

Faced with impossible legacies, the new rhythm section held its own. Pino Palladino lacks Entwistle's Godzilla-like swagger on bass, but he stood his ground in the face of Townshend's blitz, and though drummer Zak Starkey can't match Moon's mania, his heavy volleys proved to be the guitarist's most reliable foil. With Pearl Jam still at the top of their game and the Who refusing to just fade away, a Quadrophenia-style summit between the punk (Vedder) and the godfather (Townshend) would have been the night's perfect capper. Maybe next time.

This story is from the October 31st, 2002 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
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

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com