Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, in concert July 19, 2013, at Wrigley Field. | Photo by Jeff Elbel
PEARL JAM SET LIST:
“Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town”
WEATHER DELAY (2 hours, 45 minutes)
“(Someday We’ll Go) All the Way” (Eddie Vedder solo with acoustic guitar)
“Do the Evolution”
“Mind Your Manners”
“State of Love and Trust”
“Eruption” (Mike McCready plays the Van Halen guitar solo piece)
“Bugs” (Eddie Vedder solo with accordion)
“Mother” (Pink Floyd song)
“Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns” (Mother Love Bone)
“Rockin’ in the Free World” (Neil Young song)
Updated: July 22, 2013 9:21AM
Lifelong Chicago Cubs fan Eddie Vedder walked onto a stage in Wrigley Field’s outfield with a beaming smile upon his face and a bottle of red wine in hand. After a scorching Friday with temperatures ranging into the mid-90s, a welcome breeze swept the ballpark while the sun set behind home plate. As Pearl Jam began “Release” from its 1990 debut album “Ten,” the sky directly above was clear and spirits were high.
Vedder reminisced about the Seattle-based quintet’s steady rise through Chicago’s musical venues, citing Metro, the Regal Theater, United Center and Soldier Field. “That was nice,” said the Evanston native of the latter. Wrigley Field was different, though. Vedder described the park as “not just the crown jewel of Chicago, but of the whole planet Earth.”
Vedder then announced, ”There’s some weather that we may have to get through as a team tonight.” Five songs later, lightning punctuated the lonely Motown vibe of “Come Back.” Vedder promised a lengthy set, despite any interruptions. “We’ll come back hard,” he said.
The band performed its gentle song of regret, “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town,” with thousands of voices ringing in unison. Then, at approximately 9 p.m., Pearl Jam left the stage and tweeted the weather advisory.
Fans were told to seek shelter. Conditions in the hallway beneath the left-field bleachers were challenging due to cramped quarters and oppressive heat. Two nearby women passed out. Tempers flared. People demanded information from beleaguered staff. The only update came from Pearl Jam’s Twitter feed, which revealed that the band had been advised to wait out a second storm front.
Paul Radosevici had flown from San Antonio, Texas, for the show. After 2.5 hours of confinement, he cracked a joke. “If they keep us down here much longer, we’ll come back out for the 30th anniversary tour,” he said. “So, that’s cool.”
Vedder reappeared at 10 minutes till midnight, wearing a Cubs jersey in honor of retired outfielder José Cardenal. The singer recalled meeting Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, who encouraged him to write a Cubs anthem. Vedder then performed “(Someday We’ll Go) All the Way,” and welcomed Mr. Cub himself onstage to join the chorus.
Pearl Jam did indeed come back hard, performing a ferocious “Corduroy” and raging against corporate greed with “Do the Evolution.” The band also lashed into the punk rock fury of new single “Mind Your Manners.” The song was released via YouTube only last week, but many fans had already memorized the words.
“As we saw the weather coming in, we started to question naming our new record ‘Lightning Bolt,’” said Vedder, introducing the title cut. It was one of two songs premiered Friday. The other, “Future Days,” praised faithfulness and perseverance. Using wicked weather as a metaphor, the ballad seemed very appropriate.
The show ended promptly at 2 a.m., with the house lights turned on during a blistering cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
Playing center field at the Friendly Confines and delivering the goods clearly meant the world to Eddie Vedder. Although the noise curfew extension was negotiated due to conditions, it may have been an expensive decision for the band. Despite the evening’s setbacks, all of it made you root, root, root for Pearl Jam.
Jeff Elbel is a Sun-Times free-lance writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org