Pearl Jam Bring A Ton Of Gigaton To The Apollo

Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

Pearl Jam Bring A Ton Of Gigaton To The Apollo

Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

“What I’m about to say, I’m pretty damn sure they did not say to John Coltrane when he played here,” Eddie Vedder told the Apollo Theater audience five songs into Pearl Jam’s set last night. “They need us to… ‘reboot the computer.'” While technical issues were sorted out, the mezzanine sang the first verse and chorus of “Daughter” before Vedder sat down to play a tender cover of Warren Zevon’s swan song “Keep Me In Your Heart” literally unplugged. Then some more waiting. It was a 25-minute hiccup in the US fall tour kickoff from first wave grunge’s last survivors, but a short while to wait given that the concert was originally scheduled to take place two and half years ago. Plus everyone was there for free.

The rockers’ set at Harlem’s legendary theater was the latest in SiriusXM’s Small Stage Series. Tickets were allotted to lucky subscribers and the show was broadcast on the service’s Pearl Jam Radio station. Red Hot Chili Peppers will do one of these on Tuesday and Vedder shouted out their one-time tour mates during the show (30 years later and Pearl Jam are still opening for them, he joked). Vedder also dedicated Vitalogy‘s hardcore-lite highlight “Spin The Black Circle” to Baba Booey and Robin Quivers of SiriusXM’s The Howard Stern Show, who were in attendance.

Given the fate of so many of their Seattle peers, it’s miraculous the band’s lineup has been stable for almost a quarter century now. Mike McCready still shines with ecstatic shredding on “Even Flow” and “Quick Escape.” Along with Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, and Matt Cameron, multi-instrumentalist Josh Klinghoffer (now relieved of axe duties with the aforementioned Chili Peppers) joined upstage on some songs, beefing up their sound.

Pearl Jam’s current tour has drawn heavily from their 11th album Gigaton. The Apollo show featured a whopping seven songs from the album, and it would’ve been eight if “Seven O’Clock” wasn’t nixed from the original setlist. (Too bad, it’s one of the better songs on the LP.) That left enough time for only seven songs from their ‘90s albums. The assembled faithful (one fan was holding a sign indicating this was his 150th PJ show) seemed unbothered. Along those lines, mid-career deep cuts “Sleight Of Hand” and “Parachutes” were well-received in their first playthroughs in six years. The band performs at MSG tonight, the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and their cathartic early hits will presumably get some attention then.

On the way to the show I read Jann Wenner tell the New York Times that rock ‘n’ roll is dead: “It’s not coming back. It’ll end up like jazz.” (It’s evolution, baby!) And, well, a middle-aged band playing the first 20 minutes of a corporate gig sitting down, and then covering “Baba O’Riley,” isn’t gonna disprove that. But like Trane said, sometimes you’ve got to look back at the old things and see them in a new light.

Check out the setlist and some fan-shot videos of the show below.

“Sleight Of Hand”
“Hard To Imagine”
“Keep Me In Your Heart” (Warren Zevon cover) (EdVed solo acoustic)
“Who Ever Said”
“Even Flow”
“Dance Of The Clairvoyants”
“Quick Escape”
“Spin The Black Circle”
“Never Destination”
“Take The Long Way”

“Better Man”
“Do The Evolution”
“Baba O’Riley” (The Who cover)

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