Shepherd’s Bush Empire Reviews & Photos

by Kathy Davis on August 12, 2009

Dang!  There’s a lot of great press coming down the chute regarding Pearl Jam’s special show at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire August 11th.  Here is a bit of the good stuff.

Rolling Stone has a lovely review, photos and video. Follow that link for complete article, below is the text:

Last night in London Pearl Jam broke out rarities, brand new songs and even the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood. Playing in the legendary Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Eddie Vedder and Co. kicked off the evening with “Sometimes” from No Code before briefly visiting Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive,” which served as a segue into “Corduroy.” The band then introduced “The Fixer,” the first single from their upcoming Backspacer, to the 2,000 stoked fans packed inside the tiny venue.

Just four songs into the gig, frontman Vedder told the unsuspecting crowd, “You’re supposed to save the best for last, but we’re not,” as Wood sauntered onstage to lend his guitar skills to “All Along the Watchtower.” The group reveled in the moment while jamming out at length to the Dylan masterpiece before riding the momentum with inspired takes on old favorites “Why Go” and “Dissident.”

The energy of Wood’s appearance returned midway through the first set during “Even Flow” as Mike McCready bolstered the track with searing guitar leads and Matt Cameron added a thunderous drum solo. The band also dusted off gems including “Down,” “Present Tense” and “Low Light” for the fan club only audience. Pearl Jam introduced “Brother” and “Got Some,” two more tracks from Backspacer, at the end of the 18-song first set, separating the two with “Do the Evolution.”

A solo Vedder opened the first encore with an acoustic performance of “The End,” the last track on the new album (watch it, above). The band returned for “Inside Job” and the crowd took over on “Betterman,” singing along on the first two verses with gusto. When the band launched into “Alive,” the room seemed to time-travel back to the early ’90s as crowd surfers stumbled their way to the front of the stage.

Answering the calls for a second encore, the band reclaimed the stage and Vedder spoke about his introduction to Arthur Alexander, the composer of their next tune, “Soldier of Love.” After rocking out to “State of Love and Trust” Pearl Jam enlisted Simon Townsend for help on his older brother’s tune “The Real Me” from the Who’s Quadrophenia. The familiar first notes of “Yellow Ledbetter” signaled the end as Vedder told the faithful, “This is how we say goodbye.”

Pearl Jam’s mini European tour continues Thursday in Rotterdam with additional stops in Berlin, Manchester and London’s O2 Arena. The band recently announced more U.S. dates this fall and will also play a half-dozen outdoor gigs in Australia and New Zealand. Backspacer is due out on September 22nd.

Next we have a nice little blurb from NME.com, and they have YET ANOTHER Steve Gullick photo accompanying it, the bastards!

photo by Steve Gullick via NME.com

photo by Steve Gullick via NME.com

Pearl Jam were joined onstage by The Rolling StonesRonnie Wood as they made their UK live comeback at London‘s O2 Shepherds Bush Empire last night (August 11).

Playing in front of fanclub members who packed the venue, the Seattle band saw early tracks like ‘Why Go’ and ‘Diffident’ (uh, that would be Dissident-KD) rapturously received by the crowd, while poppy new single ‘The Fixer’, from their forthcoming album, ‘Backspacer’, also drew loud applause.

Frontman Eddie Vedder was in humorous form throughout the show, asking the crowd about the episode of reality TV show ‘Big Brother’ he’d watched in his hotel the night before.

“It was just some people sleeping,” he puzzled. “Do you know that show? I couldn’t bear the tension.”

Early in the set, Vedder introduced Wood onstage, who then led the band through a bluesy version of Bob Dylan‘s ‘All Along the Watchtower’, during which he traded licks with guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard.

Pearl Jam later played a lengthy version of ‘Even Flow’ and their 1991 debut single ‘Alive’, which provoked a mass sing-a-long from the capacity crowd.

The band returned for two encores, which included fan favourite ‘Last Exit’ and solo spot from Vedder for new song ‘The End’. And the band also played another classic cover – The Who‘s ‘The Real Me’ – with help on guitar from Pete Townshend‘s brother Simon, who is also a member of The Who‘s touring band.

At the end of their two-and-a-half hour set the band then took a collective bow as a humbled Vedder thanked the crowd for their support throughout the years.

Bloomberg.com has a lovely write-up by Robert Heller:

Aug. 12 (Bloomberg) — Pearl Jam last night started a comeback with an immaculate set for just 2,000 fans (and a handful of reporters and music-industry insiders).

Tickets were like gold dust for the intimate show at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire — a warm-up for a world tour that includes the city’s O2 next week and moves to the U.S.

Pearl Jam, which has sold 60 million records worldwide, is getting ready to mark its 20th anniversary with the re-release of its albums, starting with the group’s 1991 debut “Ten.”

The grunge survivors are more used to filling arenas and headlining festivals. This rare small gig featured two hours of hits and a surprise — Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones. He joined for a Jimi-Hendrix-worshipping version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”

Pearl Jam emerged from Seattle’s music scene at the beginning of the 1990s. As last night’s show demonstrated, the band still favors grunge’s fuzz of distorted guitars, loud choruses and quiet verses. Pearl Jam’s songs owe as much to classic rock — Neil Young’s guitar sound looms large — as to punk’s energy.

“Sometimes” provided a low-key, almost acoustic start, before swelling into a melody which, in its more melodramatic places, was almost fit for Liza Minnelli. A snippet of Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive” intruded, then Pearl Jam hit its stride.

The straight rock chug of “Corduroy” was rendered tight. Eddie Vedder’s vocals were smooth if frustratingly quiet, having lost the gravel heard on earlier albums.

“Why Go” and “Given to Fly” were master classes in the type of big choruses that have given the Kings of Leon prominence.

Guitarist Mike McCready let fly numerous charged guitar solos tinged with soul. Even Matt Cameron’s drum solo was energized. Elsewhere, muscular riffs raised the ghost of Led Zeppelin.

“Backspacer,” the ninth studio album, is scheduled for release in September. Based on last night’s performance, this is cause for celebration. The Pearl Jam revival is coming.

Rating: ***.

What the Stars Mean:
****       Excellent
***        Good
**         Average
*          Poor
(No stars) Worthless

(Robert Heller is a critic for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)  To contact the writer on the story: Robert Heller in London on roberthelleruk@yahoo.co.uk

And now for the gallery.  The head swims with the wonderful photos out there. Below are a few of the best.  Some fabulous (mostly) Ed shots are on Lowlight Photography’s Flickr page, and while we are unable to post them here, it’s worth hopping over there to look for yourself.  Thanks to AMD for sending the link.

The below are from Jim Dyson/ WireImage and MisterJ’s Photography Flickr page:

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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