Pearl Jam returned to San Diego on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022 at Viejas Arena since rescheduling their Gigaton Tour due to COVID-19 back in 2020. The sold-out show was filled with past and present fans who came together to celebrate one of their favorite bands. Pearl Jam gave fans an incredible nearly three-hour show, with a substantial 23-song setlist, including seven encore songs! Songs included in the setlist were a vast array of their hits and new songs from their 2020 album Gigaton. Songs included from the new album were “Dance of the Clairvoyants”, “Superblood Wolfmoon” and “Quick Escape”, balanced by some of their classic hits, like “Alive,” “Better Man” and “Daughter”.
Even though the concert was only one night, it left the fans in awe.
Eddie Vedder greeted early fans by treating them to an acoustic version of Warren Zevon’s “Keep Me in Your Heart” before introducing the opener — the incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist Josh Klinghoffer. Most people recognize him from his previous stint as Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist for 10 years after the last departure of John Frusciante. However, Kliffhoffer’s band, Dot Hacker, as well as his work touring with Gnarls Barkley, PJ Harvey, Warpaint, Beck, The Black Keys and many others, along with his deep-rooted connections in the music industry, shows he deserves much more recognition and credit. Josh’s solo Pluralone project is admirable and a great way to experience his expertise and flair. Likewise, Klinghoffer’s solo work is thoughtful and soulful, offering a different sonic journey. He has been doing this for a long time, so creating his distinguished solo projects after being able to share stages with bands he has listened to his whole life is such an honor. I feel like this is one moment that he has been working towards his entire life — now that it’s here. It was a pleasure to see him perform solo and I look forward to seeing where his journey takes him next.
After Josh’s set, Pearl Jam started the show opening with “Oceans”, “Retrograde” and “Never Destination” off their latest album, Gigaton. Eddie Vedder informed the crowd that the night’s setlist was inspired by his origin in San Diego (specifically, Encinitas) and the oceans, which was perfectly fitting. After playing several songs off their most recent releases, they went back to original works, such as “Daughter”, “Jeremy”, “Porch” and “Better Man”. The band will continue to tour and play new songs, but there’s something special about hearing those classics. When the band played “Even Flow” and “Alive” in concert, the songs took on new energy, with the addition of Mike McCready’s guitar solos from the ’90s and early 2000s. Fans hear these songs and feel like they’re experiencing history. One of the most significant parts of the show was at the end, when they played an epic eight-minute version of “Alive”.
Everyone in the audience nostalgically belted and jammed out along with them, despite the lights turning on, signaling the night’s end.
Not only did the band perform their fantastic music, but they connected deeply with the crowd. Eddie Vedder shared stories as if we were just one big family and friends gathered together. He even introduced us to people close to him, including his mom and guitar teacher. It’s been quite some time since I’ve attended a concert where I felt connected to the performers, so this was a blessing to experience. Soon after, the band paid tribute to recently passed beloved drummers Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Charlie Watts (Rolling Stones) and Neil Peart (Rush) by playing “Quick Escape”. Along with paying respects to those talented musicians, Vedder told the crowd about his dear half-brother Chris Mueller, who used to operate the lighting in the arena. The band then played “Long Road”, with the crowd creating a beautiful display of waving lights quite fitting for the song and tribute.
Overall, Pearl Jam played songs across the board, making it clear their more recent work shows growth and experimentation. They also continued to write their thought-provoking, personal, meaningful lyrics while delivering hard-hitting riffs on various topics, including those affecting today’s world. Their songs are more varied than ever, but they are a band that has been around for almost 30 years now and even though the band’s sound has changed and the members have aged, the passion for creating music is still evident in every song and they show how far they’ve come as musicians. They have always been an earnest band about their live shows and how they are presented to the public. They constantly work hard at their craft and never take anything for granted, and are still a force to be reckoned with onstage. Watching one of my favorite bands growing up play live for three hours was such a great experience that I hope future concert-goers can enjoy. The concert was everything I could’ve hoped for and more — it was such a fantastic experience to see in my lifetime. You can expect a top-notch performance every time you see them.
Photography by Olivia Valdes