Ed Vedder Solo-Philadelphia, PA June 11/12, 2009

by Kathy Davis on June 13, 2009

Setlists for Ed’s  June 11, 2009 and June 12, 2009 solo shows in Philadelphia, PA are posted in the Eddie Vedder Concert Chronology here.

Here is a nice review cleverly titled “Eddie Vedder – Love Is A Tower” from Wilmington Delaware News-Journal’s DelawareOnline.com, by Ryan Courmier; (Click on the link to see a nice photo from Ed at Radio City in April).

Eddie Vedder might have been on stage at the Tower Theater alone, but the show’s sonic guests for the evening were impressive: The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, The Who and Daniel Johnston.

The 44-year-old Pearl Jam frontman gave his fans a big, sloppy kiss Thursday night — a rare opportunity top see Vedder perform a small, stripped-down solo show. (And, yes, considering how popular Pearl Jam remains, performing at 3,100-seat theater is actually a big step down for Vedder.)

“I’m getting used to your beautiful little theater,” Vedder said during an early break in between songs. “We’ve driven into Philly many times, but we’ve never been to Upper Darby before.”

Vedder unfurled a nearly 2-hour, 22-song set that covered the Vedder’s songs from the “Into the Wild” soundtrack, Pearl Jam’s catalog and cover tunes, all while wrestling with a loud and restless crowd. (Imagine the fans from the lawn at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, N.J., and plop them into the Tower.)

Nearly a third of the relaxed show was dedicated to performing the songs of others, including Johnston’s “Walking the Cow,” which was transformed Johnson’s ramshackle lo-fi vision into a meditative, slick show opener.

The Beatles’ “Hide Your Love Away” was the night’s biggest sing-a-long and Vedder dedicated Dylan’s “Forever Young,” which he performed on electric guitar, to his daughter Olivia, whose fifth birthday he was missing.

Aside from Pearl Jam’s “Porch,” which closed out the main set, the biggest crowd reaction came when Vedder surprised the audience by doing a request: Springsteen’s “Atlantic City,” with its instantly-recognizable opening line, “Well, they blew up the chicken man in Philly last night.”

It wasn’t the only time Vedder played to the hometown crowd as he alternated between sips of red wine and beer, while also spitting on stage more times than one would like to recall.

A possibly tipsy Vedder dedicated “Rise” to Julius “Dr. J” Erving, even though he flubbed the ending, the first of many missteps, including forgotten lyrics to several songs. But it didn’t matter. Hardcore Pearl Jam fans were just happy to be in the building with their hero.

In between songs late in the show, a fan yelled out the news that the Philadelphia Phillies had beaten the New York Mets in extra innings. Vedder repeated the news, “Six to three Phillies, if you didn’t hear.”

He then congratulated fans for the Phillies’ World Series win, before launching into an improvised song with the lyrics, “Let’s go Phillies, we can do it again.”

It was just the third night of a 14-date solo trek for Vedder that covers plenty of ground, beginning earlier this week in Albany, N.Y. and ending in Hawaii. The tour is the third Vedder solo tour in support of “Into the Wild,” the 2007 Sean Penn film that earned Vedder a Golden Globe award for “Guaranteed,” a song with lyrics that also escaped Vedder Thursday.

On Thursday, Vedder was in fine form musically switching from acoustic to electric guitar throughout the night, accentuating some songs with a stomp box, making him a one man band. He had an especially impassioned delivery during “I Am Mine” and his always-gorgeous take on Wayne Cochran’s “Last Kiss” sparked it’s own sing-a-long from the adoring crowd when he forgot the lyrics once again.

Even though there were plenty of younger fans who managed to pay the $78 ticket price, it was hard not to notice Vedder’s fans have aged right along with him. Mid-show, Vedder changed the lyrics at the end of his gentle rendition of The Who’s “The Kids are Alright” to “You kids are alright,” possibly wink and a nod to his aging fan base.

It was one of many funny moments from a musician known more for his intense stage presence than his chummy display at the Tower, chatting with the crowd, shaking hands and cracking jokes.

An hour into the show, Vedder took a break for a cigarette and curled up into a large chair designed to look like two feet. The bizarre sight fit right in when Vedder announced it was time for “Uncle Ed’s story time.”

He spoke of going to a bar in Chicago with Jack Nicholson and Sean Penn after seeing the Los Angeles Lakers play in the NBA Finals in the early 90s.

A woman who looked like a “human Jessica Rabbit” walked up to Nicholson and asked him, “Would you like to dance?”

Vedder said one of Nicholson’s eyebrows raised from behind his trademark sunglasses.

Slipping into a surprisingly good Nicholson impression, Vedder repeated what the actor told the woman: “Sweetheart, you picked the wrong verb.”

Vedder continues his two-night stint of sold out gigs at the Tower tonight.

Another review from self-proclaimed “huge Pearl Jam fan” (which to him means 24 shows in 5 states since the 90′s) Entertainment Blogger:

The night didn’t turn out to be the religious experience I expected. Probably because I’ve grown accustomed to hearing Vedder live so often (yes, even solo as many times on tour with Pearl Jam, he plays a song or two alone on stage before opening bands’ sets). And as much as I find it endearing when he screws up mid-song, even Vedder admitted last night that he was overdoing it a bit — and needed to focus better.
But when Vedder was on, and on he was for most of the nite – the payoffs were huge. It was obvious that the crowd enjoyed a rousing Porch — so I could see how some would feel a bit cheated if they were only looking for a night full of Pearl Jam’s biggest and loudest hits. But I appreciated Vedder’s wise selections of Sometimes, Around the Bend and I Am Mine — more fitting for the intimate setting.
New Zealand singer/songwriter Liam Finn opened for Vedder — and showcased his wacky varied styles. I was entertained enough — especially when he traded in the guitar for drums. And I really enjoyed when he joined Vedder in encores of Society, Throw Your Arms Around Me and Hard Sun. Their banter about equating the seasons to stages in relationships was very comical: spring being foreplay, summer being f*cking, fall being marriage and winter being divorce. Ok, it was a had-to-be-there moment. But trust me, funny.
Here’s another review of Thursday night’s show, this one from the Philadelphia Enquirer:

Vedder regales in song, on sports

Eddie Vedder is a golden god to that sector of the rock-audience demographic that loves sports as much as it loves music.On Thursday night, the first of a two-night sold-out solo stand at the Tower Theater, Vedder regaled the crowd with tales of soul-brother handshakes with Dr. J and bar-hopping during the NBA Finals with Sean Penn and Jack Nicholson (wherein a beautiful woman walks up to Jack and asks if he wants to dance, and Jack responds that she’s chosen the wrong verb to describe what he wants to do with her), and made up a song on the spot that urged the Phillies to “do it again.”

The crowd seemed just as thrilled with these moments of sports solidarity as they did with the songs he played. And he played plenty, drawing largely on his soundtrack work and well-chosen covers, along with a few Pearl Jam nuggets, in the course of a powerful two-hour set.

He performed seated before a series of changing theatrical backdrops – a tenement-lined street, a movie-studio backlot, a circus big top – amid a tableau of guitars and artsy bric-a-brac, all of which created the impression we were hanging out in Vedder’s attic, drinking beers while the dude wailed.

He strummed the guitar – electric and acoustic, and switched to mandolin for “Rise” (from the Into the Wild soundtrack, and dedicated to Dr. J) – as fiercely as he sang, and that smoky, clenched-jaw baritone remains a potent instrument.

He leavened his own material (a rip-snorting “Lukin,” a drifty “Guaranteed,” and a showstopping “Last Kiss,” which, though it was written by Wayne Cochran back in 1962, is kind of owned by Pearl Jam) with stirring reinterpretations of other people’s songs. He killed on “Atlantic City” and “The Kids Are Alright,” dedicated “Forever Young” to his daughter who turned 5 the day of the show, and turned “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” into a soccer chant.

Perhaps the most compelling, though, was the song he made up on the spot late in the first encore  by looping his own voice, layering reverb-drenched wails and swooning bleats with a gorgeous, hummed melody that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan album. (Though the writer is misinformed, I suppose Arc is made up every night, in a way-KD) Vedder closed with an exultant reading of Indio’s “Hard Sun,” while a hard rain fell outside.

UPDATE:  TFT pal Ant was at both shows, and here are some nice photos he managed to capture. Thanks for sharing, Ant!

Kathy Davis ( Twitter: @CrookedArm23 )
A Bay-Area based entrepreneur, co-editor Kathy conceives and writes her share of TFT’s articles and sections. She was co-editor/co-founder of one of the first Pearl Jam fanzines "Footsteps" (1992-1997). Kathy’s first Pearl Jam show was at the Bridge School Benefit on November 1, 1992.

Leave a Comment