Grunge stagers grow old gracefully
The last time Pearl Jam were in this building, a raging Eddie Vedder threw himself off a speaker stack, landed face first onto the stage and survived to rant about whichever government was destroying the world that day. Fast forward five years and he’s being carried onstage for a second encore by one of his road crew, wearing a sensible haircut. Still, his political irascibility hasn’t eroded: “your prime-minister is giving Bush a blowjob!” he announces to mass audience approval.
But here’s the thing. Pearl Jam may have a clutch of greatest hits, but there’s no way they’ll never be relevant again. They’re the wizened Gandalfs of grunge, the Professor Dumbledores of rock – fiery grandads who’ve seen everything and clip us over the ear for dismissing their rants about impending war.
The crowd sing-a-longs are saved for the anthems – an achingly beautiful ‘Better Man’, the eleven-year old ‘Even Flow’ – but the message is clear. Pearl Jam might not be the angry voice of tomorrow’s generation anymore, but when Eddie invites surfing champion Mark Richards onstage for a glass of white wine, it shows they’re not about to beg for forgiveness for mellowing in their old age, either. The blessed thing is, with grunge and all her cracked-out casualties, that Pearl Jam have managed to grow old at all. As they waltz off into their twilight years, we can’t begrudge them that.