Grunge rockers Pearl Jam closed the second day of Isle Of Wight Festival with a two-hour set including rarities from their back catalogue, a Beatles cover (‘Rain’, in tribute to the weather) and saw frontman Eddie Vedder talk about the band’s admiration for The Clash frontman Joe Strummer.
“He would have loved this place,” Vedder told the crowd. “We were thinking about it on the way here, and sad to say, it’ll be almost 10 years in December he’s not been with us.” The band then went on to cover the Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros’ ‘Arms Aloft’.
Three years ago, Bruce Springsteen, tonight’s headliner at this year’s Isle Of Wight, opened his Glastonbury set with a cover of the Mescaleros’ ‘Coma Girl’, and Eddie Vedder was wearing a Springsteen ‘Born To Run’ T-shirt.
Pearl Jam opened with ‘Unthought Known’ from 2009 album ‘Backspacer’, following up with ‘Last Exit’ from 1994’s ‘Vitalogy’. As well as hits like ‘Even Flow’, ‘Jeremy’ and ‘Alive’ from their classic ‘Ten’ album and more recent singles like ‘The Fixer’, the set was heavy with lesser-known material like ‘Untitled’, ‘MFC’, and ‘Blood’.
Vedder was concerned for fans’ safety as it started to rain again. He asked: “Have you all got your boots on? We’re gonna check on you a few times throughout the night to make sure you’re OK, because that’s the utmost importance, boots. But you’re looking great to us from up here right now.”
Introducing ‘Just Breathe’, Vedder told the crowd: “Willie Nelson covered this song recently, and it was quite an honour. But every time I play it now, I can’t help it, like, all I can hear is his voice. He sings it better than I do.”
Closing with a merging of ‘Yellow Ledbetter’ with Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Little Wing’ in which guitarist Mike McCready took the spotlight, Eddie Vedder thanked the crowd for being “so gracious with us” as they left the stage.
“I thought it was a setlist for the fans,” said Matt Dorney, 30, from Frimley, Surrey afterwards. “It was a strange lineup, Jessie J, Tinie Tempah, Madness – and then to come out and start with ‘Unthought Known’, it was brave. But the fans loved it, we were all down here we rocked hard the whole time… I’ve never seen them play ‘Daughter’ before, it’s just a fantastic tune, it takes me back to my youth, a long long time ago. I cried twice. It sounds cheesy but they do that to me.”
Hannah White, 32, from Hove, said: “It was a really good set. It was nice to hear some new stuff I liked and some old stuff as well in there. ‘Yellow Ledbetter’ at the end was possibly my highlight but I thought ‘Even Flow’ kicked off really well. ‘Porch’ was really good as well. I didn’t know the Joe Strummer song but I enjoyed it, it was nice that he paid that tribute. I saw them when I was 20 and it was the best gig I’ve ever been to. I’m pleased to see them on the Isle Of Wight cos I’m originally from here.”
New convert Sam Willis, 15, from Wootton Bridge, Isle Of Wight, enthused: “It was energetic. They’re on form, aren’t they? I’d never really heard of their stuff before but I’m a fan now. The best moment for me was when he came off the stage and I shook his hand. Absolutely fantastic.”
Pearl Jam played:
‘Rain’ (The Beatles cover)
‘Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town’
‘Given To Fly’
‘Setting Forth’ (Eddie Vedder solo track)
‘Arms Aloft’ (Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros cover)
‘Better Man/Save It For Later’
‘Yellow Ledbetter’/’Little Wing’
Earlier in the day, Labrinth got the Main Stage warmed up with an exuberant and confident set. Opening with the cosmic pop of ‘Climb On Board’ and ‘Express Yourself’. After the intense bass of ‘Let The Sunshine’, he dedicated ‘Earthquake’ to “all my moshpitters”.
Stooshe played over in the Big Top tent, with a fun set opened by ‘Betty Woz Gone’ with its reference to the theme tune to The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air. Back on the Main Stage, Jessie J covered Usher’s ‘Climax’ and Luther Vandross’ ‘Never Too Much’, wearing slashed-to-the-ankles jeans and a smiley acid-face necklace.
Tinie Tempah took things up a level with a commanding, heavy-bassed set. Introducing ‘Wonderman’ he told the crowd: “I wrote this because I thought everybody deserves their own theme tune, when they’re just brushing their teeth or whatever.”
Katy B’s bouncy, exuberant set featured a mid-section where her DJ dropped classic dance hits such as Robin S’ ‘Show Me Love’, Salt-N-Pepa’s ‘Push It’ and House Of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’, and also a new song, the old-school garage flavoured ‘What You Came For’, featuring the line “If you ain’t moving, tell me what you came for”. She also got the crowd moving with her London Olympics collaboration with Mark Ronson, ‘Anywhere In The World’.
The festival continues today with performances from Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and The Darkness. You can watch NME‘s video guide to the seven must-see bands at Isle Of Wight festival by scrolling down to the bottom of the page and clicking.