Pearl Jam Delivers a Muscular, Tribute-Heavy Show on Night 2 at Los Angeles’ Kia Forum

Pearl Jam Delivers a Muscular, Tribute-Heavy Show on Night 2 at Los Angeles’ Kia Forum

On the second night of a two-night stint at Kia Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on Wednesday (May 22), Pearl Jam brought the energy with a powerful, no-frills rock show that delivered on the hits.

More than 30 years after the band catapulted to stardom with its diamond-selling, grunge-era classic Ten, Eddie Vedder’s voice (oft-imitated, never duplicated) remains a vital instrument, while the rest of the band — including guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard, bassist Jeff Ament and drummer Matt Cameron — boast the tight, well-oiled chemistry of a lineup that has, remarkably, remained consistent ever since Cameron joined up in 1998.

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Though it brought the firepower in spades, Wednesday night’s show — which marked the latest stop on Pearl Jam’s Dark Matter World Tour that launched in Vancouver, B.C., earlier this month — started on a somber note when Vedder launched into “Long Road,” a track off the band’s 1995 Merkin Ball EP. Leading up to the performance, Vedder paid tribute to his late uncle, John Vedder, noting that Wednesday marked the 10th anniversary of his death. “He kinda shaped me from an early age,” Vedder said from the stage. “I just had to get it out of my system before we played tonight.”

That was far from the only tribute paid by the band on Wednesday, bringing a melancholy undercurrent to the roughly two-and-a-half-hour set. At one point during the evening, Vedder also paid homage to a host of iconic rock drummers who have died within the last several years. “A couple of years ago, just randomly, some of the greatest of all time, we lost,” said Vedder, who rattled off the names of Foo FightersTaylor Hawkins, The Rolling StonesCharlie Watts and Rush’s Neil Peart before segueing into a performance of Dark Matter‘s title track.

Later in the evening, Vedder also remembered the great Tom Petty by revealing that the red guitar he was holding on stage was one the late rock star had given him years earlier. “The day before we left, [when] we were starting the tour, I went into this back room of mine, and I had space to take one more guitar on the road …This guitar was screaming out, ‘Pick me, pick me,’” said Vedder before launching into a cover of Petty’s hit 1989 single “I Won’t Back Down.”

Though new tracks from Dark Matter were sprinkled liberally throughout the performance — including “Wreckage,” “React, Respond” and show-closer “Setting Sun” — Wednesday night’s set understandably leaned heavily into the first decade of Pearl Jam’s career, when the band was at its commercial peak.

Of those early albums, the muscular Ten received a particularly bright spotlight, with Vedder and company busting out renditions of “Even Flow,” “Black,” “Alive” and fan favorite “Jeremy,” which the band performed off the back of the propulsive Yield standout “Do the Evolution” during an extensive encore. Another highlight on Wednesday included the band’s performance of Vitalogy cut “Nothingman,” which served as a particularly potent showcase of Vedder’s still remarkable voice, which retains its clarity and power to move more than three decades on.

The night’s most rousing moment arrived with the second-to-last song, a cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” which boasted special guest appearances from Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith (who Vedder had noted was in the house earlier in the evening); Dark Matter producer Andrew Watt on guitar; and the members of Deep Sea Diver, the Seattle-based indie rock outfit that’s serving as the opening act on the first North American leg of the tour. During the extended performance, the band managed to turn the Forum into a full-on dance party, with Vedder flinging tambourines with abandon into the eager hands of the satiated crowd.

Full setlist:

“Long Road”

“Nothingman”

“Present Tense”

“Go”

“Scared of Fear”

“React, Respond”

“Wreckage”

“Untitled” (tour debut)

“MFC “(tour debut)

“All Those Yesterdays” (tour debut)

“Even Flow”

“Dark Matter”

“Corduroy”

“Won’t Tell”

“Black”

“Waiting for Stevie”

“Comatose”

“Rearviewmirror”

Encore:

“I Won’t Back Down” (Tom Petty cover)

“Dance of the Clairvoyants”

“Do the Evolution”

“Jeremy”

“Alive”

“Smile”

“Rockin in the Free World” (Neil Young cover, with Chad Smith, Andrew Watt and Deep Sea Diver)

“Setting Sun”


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