Review + Photos: Pearl Jam at the Xcel Energy Center (St Paul, MN)

Pearl Jam (Seattle, WA)
October 19th, 2014 (21st Anniversary of Vs.)
Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, MN

Full Gallery: Pearl Jam at the X

Pearl Jam made their long overdue return to Minnesota on Sunday night, eight years after their last trip through, opening for Tom Petty. Not having a notch in my PJ show belt yet, but a 20 year veteran of their music, I was thrilled to finally have the chance to see them live. Was it everything I had hoped for? Oh God yes.

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The front row barricade was decorated with flags, posters, requests, show numbers and notes to the band. One of them was a wife disclosing the sex of their unborn child, and requesting that Eddie let her husband know if they were expecting a boy or girl. He did in the second half of the show, and they are expecting a bouncing baby boy (congrats, you crazy kids!). Off the far side of the stage, baseball HoF Paul Molitor could be seen. Eddie is a self-proclaimed Minnesota Twins fan, so it seemed only natural to have the yet to be announced, future Twins Manager in attendance.

Anyway, the sellout crowd of over 18,000 buzzed with anticipation, and any slight darkening of the arena due to a sponsor graphic disappearing drew cheers, hoping it was time. When the band did come out, a light fog rolled across the stage, and dim blue lights illuminated the band as they opened with Lightning Bolt‘s “Pendulum”. Bow-weilding Mike McCready donned an Eclipse Record Store T-shirt (located a few blocks from the Xcel) for the show, in what would be a slow build into what would be a 3 hour 10 minutes marathon of brilliance.

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The set continued with Ten‘s “Release” and Vitalogy‘s “Nothingman”, essentially a warmup to the shot in the arm that is “Go”. “Lightning Bolt” and “Mind Your Manners” came a few songs later, both songs proving to be incredibly strong live, especially MYM!

“Sirens” and “Love Boat Captain” were unanimously the low point in the night according to many of the die-hard fans.

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Things quickly returned to all things amazing with “I Got Id” and “The Fixer”, finishing the first set with a powerful “Rearviewmirror”.

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After “The Fixer” Vedder took a moment to talk about visiting the University of Minnesota, and touring the U of M’s Children’s Hospital, and spoke about the EB Research Partnership (of which he is a founding member). It is a nonprofit that’s dedicated to finding a cure for Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a group of rare skin conditions that affects children from birth. You can read more about it at http://ebresearch.org. You can also read about his visit, and see photos on Today.com Dr. Jakub Tolar, the doctors from the U of M that researches diseases like EB, was brought on stage by Eddie. Just as the band was given a tour of his campus on Saturday, he returned the favor and gave the good doctor a tour of Pearl Jam’s facility (the stage). It was a wonderful moment, and as corny as it sounds, made me proud to be a fan of this band. “This guy is the real stuff, it’s no flair, it’s no fluff, he is the real guy” said Tolar in regards to Vedder.

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The first encore was one of extreme highs with “Why Go”, “Do the Evolution” and “Porch”, and heavy emotions with “Footsteps” into 10,000 cellphone lights illuminating the Xcel during a an acoustic cover of “Imagine”.

Encore two began with the classic “Black”, and started into “Alive”, but stopped after five seconds, and Eddie ran to the edge of the stage and grabbed a Minnesota Wild Hockey sweater; number 14, “Vedder” on the back; and put it on to the roaring approval of the audience. He admitted it may or may not be a bit of pandering, but he is “Into the Wild” (referencing the movie by the same title that he provided the soundtrack to). Groans and applause met the pun head on as he played “Setting Forth” (from the soundtrack).

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Once the real attempt at “Alive” started, it was met with the reverence that it deserves. Just as Mike started into the epic solo, the house lights came on! We’re talking press box TVs, suite lights, the whole shooting match. But like you’d expect, the band played on, and right into “Rockin’ in the Free World”, with people rocking out all over the place without a care in the world.

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As much of an emotional kick in the ass it was to see my favorite band in what I can only imagine is top form after all of these years, it all culminated with the beauty that is “Indifference”, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I now understand why people follow the band when their tour swings through their region, it’s an experience, and it’s always different.

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Set List:

Pendulum
Release
Nothingman
Go
Life Wasted
Corduroy
Lightning Bolt
Mind Your Manners
Save You
Even Flow
Sirens
Love Boat Captain
Daughter
I Got Id
The Fixer
Unthought Known
Given to Fly
Rearviewmirror

Encore 1:
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
Thin Air
Footsteps
Imagine (John Lennon)
Last Kiss (Wayne Cochran)
Why Go
Do the Evolution
Porch

Encore 2:
Black
Setting Forth (Eddie Vedder)
Better Man
Alive
Rockin’ in the Free World (Neil Young)
Indifference

Thoughts?

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