No matter what the night is, Pearl Jam has always been able to break into a frenzied pace at any moment, with frontman Eddie Vedder leaping across the stage and into crowds like he did in the band’s “Evenflow” video decades ago.
That would come later at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Saturday.
When the Seattle-based band opened their set with “Pendulum,” a mellow song off the recently released Lightning Bolt, it merely increased anticipation for what was to come. As did a stage lit by rafter-strewn lanterns, making the space look more like a raw warehouse than New York’s newest corporate-sponsored arena.
Promoting its best studio album in years, the alt-rock icons mixed intimate acoustic songs with raucous arena rock. There were fewer covers and random B-sides than fans have come to expect from Pearl Jam’s seemingly endless sets. Still, the nearly three hour show provided plenty of fan favorites, from Lightning Bolt’s standout single “Sirens” to a vigorous version of “Better Man.”
Before that well-known song, however, Vedder paused for one of his many soap box sessions to recognize Dennis Rodman. Basketball’s former ‘bad boy’ stood just a few feet away on the arena floor, tossing a Mookie Blaylock jersey to the stage.
The band’s connection to and affection for Blaylock is well documented. He started his career with the Nets back when the team was still in New Jersey. Why the NBA’s greatest rebounder and North Korean fanboy was front and center is less clear, but who can argue with a six-foot-seven-inch “Worm” enthusiastically bouncing along to one of the band’s biggest hits?
Vedder, now in full form, swigged wine and swung from the glowing globes above him. The show closed with the stage ablaze in house lights and rousing versions of “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Yellow Ledbetter,” as 17,000 strong watched themselves shout along to songs they’ve known for years. —Coulter Jones
Pearl Jam @ Barclays Center, 10.19.13:
Mind Your Manners
State of Love and Trust
Given to Fly
(‘Save it for Later’ tag)
All Those Yesterdays
Do the Evolution
(Edward Holland, Jr. cover)
(‘We Belong Together’ tag)
Rockin’ in the Free World
(Neil Young cover)
(with Star-Spangled Banner tag)