Review + Photos + Setlist: Pearl Jam and Band of Horses at the Scottrade Center, Tuesday, May 4
After Pearl Jam opened its first St. Louis show since 2004 with the moody No Code album cut "Sometimes," vocalist Eddie Vedder bellowed, "In the immortal words of Marvin Gaye - let's get it on!" Cue "Corduroy," just one of many snarled rockers the quintet unleashed during a two-hour-plus set.
Generally, Pearl Jam keeps fans guessing as to what exactly it's going to play on a given night. That held true at the Scottrade Center: The band played just four songs from last year's Backspacer, and dusted off a few mega-rarities. The thrashing "All Night," from the Lost Dogs odds 'n sods collection, was played for the thirteenth time ever, while the Jeff Ament-penned "Pilate" made its seventeenth appearance. Such fluid song selection makes for a looser concert experience for sure - and no doubt keeps the members of Pearl Jam on their toes.
Photo: Jon Gitchoff Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam last night at the Scottrade Center. See a full slideshow from the Pearl Jam show at the Scottrade Center here.
But twenty-some years into its career, the members of Pearl Jam have well-defined roles. Guitarist Stone Gossard, with chin-length hair obscuring his face, played the role of meticulous mad scientist at stage left; he seemed lost in his own little world as he concentrated on his parts. Chiseled guitarist Mike McCready and square-jawed bassist Ament buzzed back and forth around each other at stage right - the former a flashy soloist, the latter a muscular sparkplug constantly in motion.
Photo: Jon Gitchoff Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam. See full slideshow from Pearl Jam's show at the Scottrade Center here.
Matt Cameron, who also drums for Soundgarden, is Pearl Jam's ace in the hole, though. He's zen-like behind the kit, and barely looks like he's breaking a sweat, but he's an anchor: Older songs such as "Why Go" and "Even Flow" sounded crisp, their lumbering rock-funk edges honed razor-sharp, and he ensured that the band stayed on tempo during a few sloppier moments.
He also handled the band's stylistic shifts with ease. "Do the Evolution" - a feral, raw rocker with stinging riffs, sinewy grooves and demonic facial expressions from Vedder - was an early crowd favorite. The ruminative "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town" followed a few songs later; Gossard playing the part of troubadour on an acoustic, while the audience wailed the song's "Helloooo!" parts louder than the band did. Other styles touched upon included '80s college-rock (the R.E.M.-ish "In Hiding" and "Unthought Known"), white-hot garage-punk ("Save You," "The Fixer"), psychedelic-infused fuzzrock ("1/2 Full," "Glorified G"), measured melancholy (the Britrock brood "Inside Job," "Garden") and campfire sing-alongs ("Daughter," new song "Just Breathe").
Photo: Jon Gitchoff Matt Cameron of Pearl Jam. See a full slideshow from last night's Pearl Jam show at the Scottrade here.