Last night in London Pearl Jam broke out rarities, brand new songs and even the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood. Playing in the legendary Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Eddie Vedder and Co. kicked off the evening with “Sometimes” from No Code before briefly visiting Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive,” which served as a segue into “Corduroy.” The band then introduced “The Fixer,” the first single from their upcoming Backspacer, to the 2,000 stoked fans packed inside the tiny venue.
Just four songs into the gig, frontman Vedder told the unsuspecting crowd, “You’re supposed to save the best for last, but we’re not,” as Wood sauntered onstage to lend his guitar skills to “All Along the Watchtower.” The group reveled in the moment while jamming out at length to the Dylan masterpiece before riding the momentum with inspired takes on old favorites “Why Go” and “Dissident.”
The energy of Wood’s appearance returned midway through the first set during “Even Flow” as Mike McCready bolstered the track with searing guitar leads and Matt Cameron added a thunderous drum solo. The band also dusted off gems including “Down,” “Present Tense” and “Low Light” for the fan club only audience. Pearl Jam wrapped up the 18-song first set with “Do the Evolution” and “Got Some,” another new track from Backspacer.
A solo Vedder opened the first encore with an acoustic performance of “The End,” the last track on the new album (watch it, below). The band returned for “Inside Job” and the crowd took over on “Betterman,” singing along on the first two verses with gusto. When the band launched into “Alive,” the room seemed to time-travel back to the early ’90s as crowd surfers stumbled their way to the front of the stage.
Answering the calls for a second encore, the band reclaimed the stage and Vedder spoke about his introduction to Arthur Alexander, the composer of their next tune, “Soldier of Love.” After rocking out to “State of Love and Trust” Pearl Jam enlisted Simon Townshend for help on his older brother’s tune “The Real Me” from the Who’s Quadrophenia. The familiar first notes of “Yellow Ledbetter” signaled the end as Vedder told the faithful, “This is how we say goodbye.”
Pearl Jam’s mini European tour continues Thursday in Rotterdam with additional stops in Berlin, Manchester and London’s O2 Arena. The band recently announced more U.S. dates this fall and will also play a half-dozen outdoor gigs in Australia and New Zealand. Backspacer is due out on September 20th.
“All Along The Watchtower”
“Given To Fly”
“Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town”
“Do The Evolution”
“The End” (Eddie Solo)
“Soldier Of Love”
“State Of Love And Trust”
“The Real Me”
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