Pearl Jam Rock Montana in Support of U.S. Senator - Rolling Stone
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Pearl Jam Rock Montana in Support of U.S. Senator

Set includes songs by the Clash, MC5, Neil Young, John Fogerty

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Pearl Jam performs at the Made In America Festival in Philadelphia.

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Pearl Jam last weekend busted out a set 29-song set packed with fan favorites and politically-tinged covers at the Adams Center in Missoula, Montana, in support of Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat who’s currently seeking re-election in a hotly contested race that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate, Billboard reports.

While the members of Pearl Jam aren’t shy about voicing their political beliefs – frontman Eddie Vedder recently performed at a fundraiser for President Barack Obama – the connection to Tester is more personal: bassist Jeff Ament, a Montana native, is a childhood friend of the senator’s.

“I grew up with Jon and I can vouch for how much he cares for Montana, how much he cares for the country,” Ament said at a pre-show event. “I couldn’t be prouder to be up here with the band.”

Although the show was not a traditional fundraiser, Tester’s campaign did sell some premium ticket packages, and of course the senator and his wife sat alongside Pearl Jam fanclub members to watch the show. It wasn’t the first time the band has thrown its support behind Tester: Pearl Jam played a benefit in 2005 when he was first seeking office.

“If we can get everybody to vote who is eligible, that’s really what’s most important. And then everything will turn out right,” Ament said. 

During the band’s set, Vedder spoke about getting the chance to perform for candidate the band believed in, and also referenced Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s recent disparaging comments that 47 percent of Americans see themselves as “victims” and don’t pay income taxes: “The candidate on the other side talks as if 47 percent of people are living off the country, taking welfare and living on food stamps,” Vedder reportedly said. “The person that said that has never had the thrill or terror of walking on the tightrope without a net. He doesn’t understand that that doesn’t represent half the country. We can all agree on that. Only maybe one percent can relate to him.”

While Pearl Jam’s set featured plenty of hits and deep cuts, the band also let loose some politically charged covers, including the Clash’s “Know Your Rights,” Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” and John Fogerty’s “Fortunate Son.” Toward the end of the show, openers Mudhoney returned to the stage to helpon a cover of MC5’s “Kick Out the Jams.”


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