At the completion of the first set of the evening the stage was settled and darkened as the band no doubt caught their breath back stage. Five minutes later a man emerged alone hauling with him the love of a nation and a delicate ukulele. "This is a small song with a small instrument about a small person," announced lead singer Eddie Vedder of the not so small band Pearl Jam. "So I would ask for complete silence as I try to do this." From there Vedder strummed his way into the solo semi-ballad soliloquy of "Soon Forget"-track 12 off of Pearl Jam's latest release, Binaural.
Sonic Youth scorched the evening early on to a half-capacity crowd before Pearl Jam mounted the stage and hauled in with them the remaining population of the sold-out show. With only a hand-shaking wave to announce their arrival they smoothly shed crowd skin and slid into a haunting version of "Release." From there it was a riptide of raw emotional ravage as Vedder and co. torched through pleasing bleeders such as "Animal," "Given To Fly," and "Evacuation." Stars sang out of the sky for ever-faithful tunes such as "Daughter," "Black," and "Better Man."
While keeping conversation with the crowd to a customary minimum, Pearl Jam's clout crystallized only all the more when they streaked into encore versions of "Last Kiss" and the Neil Young national anthem, "Rockin' In The Free World." The evening ended on a communal note when Vedder spread a fan's gift of flowers among the front row and took the consideration to hand out the symbol specifically. The gesture clearly represented the gestation of a ten-year union, the loyal following that has come to grow therein, and the promise of ten more brilliant years and beyond to come.
© 2000 Matt Peterson