When it was first revealed that both Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were on the bill for Neil Young's annual all-acoustic Bridge School Benefit concerts in this year, grunge fans immediately wondered whether a rare Temple of the Dog appearance was in the works. Seven songs into Pearl Jam's penultimate Bridge School set, a reunion looked doubtful, but for their final song on the Shoreline Amphitheatre stage Saturday night, Chris Cornell joined Pearl Jam for a performance of the Temple of the Dog standout "Hunger Strike."
The Bridge School performance in Mountain View, California marked the first time the grunge supergroup – Cornell, Soundgarden/Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron, bassist Jeff Ament, guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard and, tangentially, Vedder – had reunited since a show to celebrate the release of the film Pearl Jam Twenty in September 2011.
In addition to fan favorites like "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town" and "Daughter," Pearl Jam also busted out a handful of cover songs, including a surprise performance of the Beatles' "Rain." Pearl Jam had been teasing the Beatles' Past Masters, Volume Two classic during their concerts ever since 1992, but they didn't perform the track in full until 2012. "Rain" also popped up during three Pearl Jam concerts in Europe this past summer, but the Bridge School benefit marked both the group's first stateside performance and acoustic rendition of the track.
Pearl Jam's setlist also featured Yield's "Given to Fly," Vedder's Ukulele Songs track "Sleeping By Myself" and covers of Wayne Cochran's "Last Kiss" and Bridge School Benefit founder Neil Young's "Fuckin' Up," a live staple for the band but still an odd choice considering all the schoolchildren who usually sit behind the artists as they perform.
Another highlight from the first night at the Bridge School Benefit: Neil Young stopping by Brian Wilson's set to help the Beach Boy and Al Jardine perform "California Saga: California." Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and possibly Temple of the Dog will be back at it Sunday night for the second Bridge School concert.