R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Alanis Rally For Hunger for Groundworks 2001 - Rolling Stone
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R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Alanis Rally For Hunger

Coming so soon after 9/11, most of the crowd tried to forget their own plight

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Michael Stipe and Peter Buck of music group R.E.M. perform during the 15th Annual Bridge School Benefit at the Shoreline Amphitheatre October 21st, 2001 in Mountain View, California.

Randi Lynn Beach/Getty

Rally Against Hunger
Key Arena
Seattle, Washington
October 22nd, 2001

Six weeks after September 11th, leave it to Eddie Vedder to voice a crowd’s tentative hopes. “There’s no need to hide because we’re safe tonight,” he sang over the gentle lilt of Pearl Jam‘s waltzy new tune “I Am Mine.” Although the cause was eliminating world hunger – this night was the culmination of a week of concerts sponsored by the Groundworks organization – fans seemed less focused on sympathizing with hungry folks’ plight than on forgetting their own. Pearl Jam swapped bombast for club-size leanness in a set that included a bruised, angry cover of John Lennon‘s “Gimme Some Truth” and peaked with a resiliently soulful “The Long Road,” made whole by vocals from Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Headliners R.E.M. delivered a straightforward set of album-faithful versions of their songs. Still, “Daysleeper” soared in salute to everyday people whose lives, even in grayness, possess a dignity. Aside from its roughshod treatment of “The Great Beyond,” the band held its fuel in reserve, then burned it up all at once, with an assist from Vedder, on Patti Smith‘s “People Have the Power.” Alanis Morissette raised the curtain on some new work, including “A Man.” Opening with atmospheric guitars that swirled like mist across a bog, the song crashed into Zeppelin-like riffs. Morissette’s vocals writhed like a nest of snakes, obscuring one lyric’s end and another’s beginning. Even if the concert offered only scant talk about hunger, throughout there was a palpable sense of pushing forward. For this night, that was enough.

This story is from the December 6th, 2001 issue of Rolling Stone.


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