Philly 1 Reviews & Photos

by Kathy Davis on October 28, 2009

Here’s a review from Sam Adams of the Philadelphia Enquirer:

Pearl Jam opens final stand at Spectrum

That response couldn’t, of course, compare to the crowd’s reaction to the headliners, whose determination to stage a classic rock show was matched by the audience’s desire to be part of one. Throwing himself backward or dropping into a squat, Vedder threw his weight against his microphone stand as if it were the only thing keeping him upright. Inevitably, during the set-closing “Go,” he seemed to lose his balance and tumbled to the stage, but he kept singing, lying flat on his back as though he’d intended to end up there all along.

By Sam Adams

FOR THE INQUIRER

Just before Pearl Jam took the stage of the Spectrum on Tuesday night for the first of four shows that will bring the arena’s days to an end, the band treated the crowd to a highlight reel from the venerable venue’s past.

Footage of the Flyers and the 76ers clinching championships was mingled with clips of the Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen, who bid the Spectrum farewell with his own four-night stand ending last week. The valedictory montage served a dual purpose: It paid tribute to the history of what Springsteen called “one of the last great rock halls,” and it inserted the evening’s headliners into that history. They wouldn’t have evoked the Spectrum’s highest highs if they weren’t intending to equal them.

Singer Eddie Vedder made it clear that the band intended to create its own slice of history, promising to play “every song we know” over the course of the week’s concerts. (After Tuesday’s and Wednesday night’s shows, the band will take a night off before returning for the weekend.) Over 21/2 hours, Pearl Jam made a sizable dent in its repertoire, tackling 30 songs, coming from its 1991 debut, Ten, through Backspacer, released last month.

In keeping with the new album’s sparse approach, the band drew heavily on its catalog of taut and frenzied rockers, steering clear, with a few exceptions, of the angsty mid-tempo sludge that got it lumped in with the first wave of grunge.

The aptly named “Supersonic” raced forward at a blinding pace, while “The Fixer” emulated the clipped guitars of the band’s Seattle compatriots Sleater-Kinney. (Vedder acknowledged the debt by tacking a snippet of their song “Modern Girl” onto the end of “Not for You.”)

The band underlined the turn toward stripping down and speeding up by choosing the California quartet Social Distortion to open the first two shows. (Fellow SoCal punks Bad Religion will open the latter two.) Drawing on the blistering energy of early rock and rockabilly, Social Distortion’s songs were pushed forward by the brassy growl of singer Mike Ness, who, with his slicked-back hair, bulging neck muscles and copious tattoos, looked as though he might be on work release from a minimum-security prison.

Outlaw imagery and the battle against self-destruction figured prominently in songs like “Prison Bound” and “Ball and Chain,” both from Social Distortion’s early 1990s high-water mark, as well as a snarling version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”

More than five years after its last album (a new one is planned for next year), Ness’ band seemed a tad ragged at times, as if its rhythm section had not had enough time to settle into a groove. But the best songs, including the vintage “Mommy’s Little Monster,” drew an enthusiastic response from a crowd that had quite a few Social Distortion fans.

There is a nice flash photo gallery containing 15 lovely photos here.

Another review, this one  from Ryan Cormier at DelawareOnline:

If you have tickets to Pearl Jam’s final two nights at the Spectrum — either tonight or Saturday — brace yourself.

Not only will the concerts be the final two events ever held at the Spectrum, but Eddie Vedder promised that his band is determined to make them as special as possible.

“It’s an honor this band takes very seriously,” Vedder said mid-show Tuesday, the first of their four-night run at the vaunted arena, slated for demolition at the end of the year. “We plan on playing every song we know.”

To meet the goal of performing every song off Pearl Jam’s nine studio albums, Vedder and the band dug deep Tuesday for a 3-1/2 hour concert, which included a tribute to The Who’s 1973 “Quadrophenia” concert at the Spectrum with “Love, Rein o’er Me” and a raucous closer in Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

The show was split in two by an acoustic set in the middle with Vedder performing with various members of the band, in addition to string quartet from Philadelphia for “Just Breath” and “The End.”

Dressed in a flannel shirt over a black Social Distortion t-shirt (a nod to the night’s solid opening act), Vedder was in terrific spirits. He smiled throughout, heaped praise on his host city and took swig after swig from his omnipresent bottle of wine.

“We’ve been thinking about these gigs for a long time now,” Vedder said of their goodbye to the arena, which has plenty in common with the Seattle rock band: grit, longevity and a strong sense of history.

The career spanning set of hits, B-sides and covers touched on all nine Pearl Jam albums, with songs from the band’s early days like “Black” and “Daughter” alongside several songs from this year’s release “Backspacer,” including the album’s lead single, “The Fixer.”

B-sides “Bee Girl” and “State of Love and Trust” got the acoustic treatment, silencing the Spectrum, setting a tone more like the one found at the Tower Theater in June when Vedder was last in our area for a solo gig.

But giddy fans could hardly contain themselves when rarely played tunes like “Mankind” with guitarist Stone Gossard on lead vocals and “All Those Yesterdays” from 1996’s “No Code” found their way onto the bulging 31-song setlist.

Sounding like a man with an adopted hometown, Vedder ended the night giving out tambourines to fans in the crowd, leaving with these final words: “Spectrum, we love you.”

After 42 years of hosting most the biggest names in rock history, Vedder seems determined to honor their ghosts this week.

And that’s the way it should be.

TFT logo designer and pal Mick Muise took some lovely photos, and here they are!

Rock!

UPDATED: Another nice review and awesome set of  awesome pictures from Phawker.com:

BY ADAM BONANNI Pearl Jam know they had their work cut out for them: to send the Spectrum beyond the clouds and somewhere over the rainbow to reunite with Veterans Stadium in that great arena final resting place in the sky. “We’re not the cleanup crew” Eddie Vedder exclaimed between songs Tuesday night at said Spectrum, alluding to the fact that Springsteen closed out his series with a four-hour banger the other week. Not to be outdone,Vedder made a bold claim: “By Saturday night, we’re gonna try to play every song we know…and that may include some that nobody know.” It’s a super-ambitious goal, and one that was clear in focus Tuesday night.

Opener “Corduroy” was the perfect way to fire up the audience, and I’m always impressed with how good the song sounds in a considerably more uptempo fashion than the studio recording. Vitalogy, PJ’s third studio album and fan favorite, got considerable representation, and the band was able to hit all of their studio albums, even dipping into their B-sides collection with the intimate and haunting “Bee Girl.” Rhythm guitarist Stone Gossard mixed things up by stepping up to the mic to perform “Mankind”, although his voice sounds more suited to the version he performed in studio. One of the obvious focal points of the show was Pearl Jam’s newly released album Backspacer, with five well-chosen cuts: “Unthought Known,” a fist-pumping anthem of self-revelation; “Supersonic” and “The Fixer”, strong riff-driven rockers; and “Just Breathe” and “The End”, powerful but delicate ballads suited for the large venue.

Vedder’s short acoustic set in the middle of the show — which included “Bee Girl,” “Just Breathe,” “The End,” and transitioning brilliantly into “All Those Yesterdays” — was a fantastic change of pace and demonstrated a more personal side to the charismatic rocker. Still can’t shake those political tendencies though, but he seems to be in a better place, speaking about unity and working together for a common purpose. If this isn’t your bag, it was an easy spot to overlook, but after spending two studio albums trying to claim that the government doesn’t speak for us and now claiming that “we all gotta help out the President, he’s a good guy”, whatever he’s going for is getting a bit old. Doesn’t change the fact that Eddie Vedder and Co. still perform with the intensity of their former 20-year-old selves (while Matt Cameron still looks like he’s 20). These guys really put on a hell of a show, and since there isn’t a band in the world that would turn down the final series at the Spectrum, Pearl Jam acted humbled, grateful, and ready to prove that they should be there.

And here is a lovely photo gallery slide show from The Temple News Online:

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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