Pearl Jam Rocks V-Fest

by Kathy Davis on August 9, 2009

Pearl Jam kicked off their 2009 live dates with a festival appearance in Calgary, Alberta, Canada at Canada Olympic Park – V-Fest.  We have the setlist and notes posted in the Concert Chronology here; below is a nice little group of photos.  We’ll update the post with any reviews or other tidbits we find as we unearth them.

The gallery contains: 

  •  two pix of Jeff warming up his Canadian trip with a jaunt out to Strathmore Skate Park. Photos from Flickr user Smafty.
  • 4 photos from the Calgary Herald
  • TwitPix from Scott C via the Message Pit

Remember to click on each photo to enlarge!

 UPDATE:  Review from the Calgary Herald

Pearl Jam is a big fish, no doubt about it. A true Moby Dick of modern rock.

And for a world class event like the Virgin Festival, which sells itself on its ability to reel in the biggest fish in the alternative rock sea, that means everything.

So Pearl Jam was a considerable catch for Virgin and a big score all around Saturday at Canada Olympic Park on day one of the Virgin Festival’s second year in Calgary.

They lived up to their legend too, with a fantastically explosive show that included grunge era bedrock like Why Go, Even Flow and Daughter along with fine newer tunes like Big Wave, Unemployable and even The Fixer off their upcoming album Backspacer, set to be released in September.

Unless I’m mistaken this was Pearl Jam’s first full-on concert gig in many months, but, to be sure, their was no rust on this machine.

Frontman Eddie Vedder’s voice was as strong as it’s ever been, his delivery as fiery and passionate as the rock preacher man he strives to be. Guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McReady were just as sharp and Matt Cameron, one of the most lethal drummers to emerge from the grunge era, drove the band relentlessly.

Mind you, the Seattle band’s prominence was made all the more significant considering that no other act this weekend comes close to them in terms of their sheer magnitude.

Compare that to some of Virgin’s other Canadian stops this summer – Toronto in particular, where Nine Inch Nails, Pixies and Ben Harper are among the acts set to perform – and you can see why Virgin has taken its share of criticisms in this city.

It didn’t help matters that they took such an annoyingly long time to announce their lineup and show dates either.

The move from last year’s Fort Calgary venue to COP is another strike against Virgin in this writer’s opinion. Fort Calgary was a far better venue for an event like this. It was easier to access and it just seemed much more user friendly and roomy than COP. The logistics of holding a concert on the side of a ski slope can be awkward.

It’s a shame about those crybaby noise complaints that came down on the Fort Calgary event last year.

To be sure though, there was much to enjoy about Virgin’s Saturday showing other than just Pearl Jam.

Canadian electronic outfit Thunderheist were an early highlight with their garage greasy dance grooves. Hamilton’s Arkells were impressive too, their spirited alt-rock tunes grabbing the crowd’s attention and their command of the big stage keeping it.

Toronto hip-hop star k-os was excellent, playing a smart, funky set, rich with surprisingly hard hitting beats and even incorporating riffage from the heavy likes of Rush and Led Zeppelin. New k-os tunes like Burning Bridges, meanwhile, held their own next to established favourites like Man I Used To Be.

As for the much-loved Wintersleep from Halifax, I have to admit this is a band I’ve often struggled with, finding them rather too earnest, self-indulgent and even ponderous. (Mind you, this is all stuff that has been said about Pearl Jam at times too. And, at time, rightfully so).

Still, Wintersleep won me over onstage, where their densely layered, almost prog-rockish sonics came to life vividly.

But there was no question that a huge majority of the crowd of 19,000 had come to see Pearl Jam far above all else. At press time, as the band burned its way towards the encore, with stunning versions of Alive, Do The Evolution and the acoustic gem Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town, the reason for that couldn’t have been more clear.



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.

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