Pearl Jam came out to a packed crowd Friday, July 19th in Chicago around 8:15PM. An ideal venue, not ideal weather. They opened up their first set with their go to first song “Release,” and followed that up with “Nothingman.” Then there was a warning issued by the Weather Service that heavy rains were on their way, and they were accurate. Eddie Vedder was very emotional the whole night with his enormous bottle of wine as a prop. Eddie must have dipped into that liquor during the rain delay because it gave him liquid courage to do a crowd stand held up by four fans and his own security people.
It had been a dream of Vedder’s to play at Wrigley since he was a 5 year old going to Cubs games and watching them on WGN. Even while the Vedder family bounced around from San Diego to Seattle, he maintained his dream of wanting to play center field at Wrigley. His wish came true! The stage was set up directly in centerfield with at least 50,000 people, a few meteorologists, and numerous celebrities and politicians sharing a role in the dream.
During the two and half hour rain delay, after the shortened first set, a production manager from Live Nation kept me informed of the impact of the delay and impending conflict with the Wrigleyville curfew. It was a surreal evening with the many people previously seated on the field now scrunched into a lightning grounded concourse in the outfield. With fifty thousand fans wanting the rain to end and the festivities to continue the drama was as thick as the humidity.
Pearl Jam has had a long history of stampedes and mishaps in rain like conditions, but everyone maintained their cool. In a move not ever permitted for Cubs games, ticket holders were told “You are allowed to leave and come back with your ticket.” Native son, Eddie Vedder must be held in high regard on these grounds. It was a tough situation because it takes 30 minutes to set stage plus 30 minutes to load crowd and 45 minutes of music. So Pearl Jam potentially would have had to cough up millions of dollars in fines. They would have made that money back tenfold in merchandise sales. People were even standing in line for Pearl Jam swag three days that didn’t have tickets, each night they sold out of every item.
As the rain and wind subsided, second hand information was relayed to me on Pearl Jam’s position. “We don’t care how much we have to pay we want to go back on.” Finally after the rain came and went, and Eddie did not disappoint as he had promised the band would come back ‘hard.’ Apparently the curfew was waived along with potential fines. No band has ever played Wrigley Field twice, hopefully Pearl Jam will be the first someday.
Eddie made a wardrobe change, he donned a #1 Cubs Jersey, with no name on back. He warmed up the audience with “All The Way.” A song about a dream of the Cubs winning a World Series after a drought of more than a 100 years, longest in Major League Baseball. Mr. Cub Ernie Banks, former hall of fame shortstop came on stage and held up Eddie’s glove when we was five years old. Banks proclaimed, “Welcome to my home.” The house that Banks built! Ernie’s catch phrase was “Let’s play two, Eddie changed it to let’s play until 2am. They did, ending exactly at 2am on Saturday morning for a concert that started Friday night. Ernie joked he would keep the glove. He can still probably turn the double play today.
Besides Ernie, there was a good representation of athletes, actors and television personalities in the audience. Kerry Wood, Laura Dern, and Kenny Mayne were just a few that passed by.
Mike McCready played his guitar behind his head for showmanship during the song “Even Flow,” and Vedder said, I’ve known Mike for 22 years didn’t know he was a southpaw, and then Mike gave him a high five with his left hand. Vedder said, “I don’t know where that hand has been.” Brendan O’Brien was the special guest on keyboard for debut song, “Future Days.” O’Brien produced Lightning Bolt, Pearl Jam’s first album since Backspacer in 2009. They also played a beautiful rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Mother” with credit going to Roger Waters.
Pearl Jams’ debut album track “Mind Your Manners” is available now and can be heard on their own Sirius XM station. It has a punk rock feel more then their other albums. Get ready for their Lightning Bolt album, available October 15. Since their inception in 1991, Pearl Jam has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide. The band has release nine studio albums, five live albums, hundreds of live concert bootlegs, one double disc B-side record, one double disc B-side record and five live DVD’s. In 2011, Pearl Jam celebrated their 20th anniversary with a special concert weekend at Alpine Valley, WI, where I also had the opportunity to report.
But, between seeing Eddie’s Wrigley field dream come true, the hopeful weather delayed commitment to Pearl Jam, and the energy shared by all until 2AM, including the 8 song encore, it was a night to remember. Friday’s show was the fastest selling concert in Wrigley Field history.
Of interesting note is that most of the profits of this event were reportedly to be donated in support of Chicago’s inner city schools. Since Pearl Jam’s unique Ten Club allows their dedicated fans to get first dibs on tickets, it must have contributed to the record speed of ticket sales for this Friday night under the lights. Fans had been looking forward to it as the highlight of the summer concert season for months. In case you were wondering, the number 10 is in honor of the band’s favorite athlete, former NBA point guard, Mookie Blaylock.
After the evenings concert, the Lightning Bolt album available October 15 will long be associated with Wrigley Field and Chicago. Eddie would not want it any other way.
The Pearl Jam set list on Friday was:
Release (from Ten, 1991)
Nothingman (from Vitalogy, Vitalogy, 1994)
Present Tense (from No Code, 1996)
Hold On (from Lost Dogs, 2003)
Low Light (from Yield, 1998)
Come Back (from Pearl Jam, 2006)
Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town (from Vs, 1993)
All The Way (Eddie Vedder solo)
All Night (from Lost Dogs, 2003)
Do The Evolution (from Yield, 1998)
Setting Forth (from Into The Wild, 2007)
Corduroy (from Vitalogy, Vitalogy, 1994)
Faithfull(from Yield, 1998)
Mind Your Manners (from Lightning Bolt, 2013)
Lightning Bolt (from Lightning Bolt, 2013)
State of Love And Trust (from Ten, 1991)
Wishlist (from Yield, 1998)
Even Flow (from Ten, 1991)
Leatherman (from Given To Fly single)
Eruption (Van Halen cover)
Bugs (from Vitalogy, Vitalogy, 1994)
Why Go (from Ten, 1991)
Unthought Known (from Backspacer, 2009)
Rearviewmirror (from Vs, 1993)
Future Days (with Brendan O’Brien) (from Lightning Bolt, 2013)
Mother (Pink Floyd cover)
Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns (Mother Love Bone cover)
Porch (from Ten, 1991)
Wasted Reprise (from Pearl Jam, 2006)
Life Wasted (from Pearl Jam, 2006)
Black (from Ten, 1991)
Rockin’ In The Free World (Neil Young cover)