I try to tell anyone who will listen that I am rooting for Pearl Jam to split. I am terrified that they are turning into my generations Rolling Stones and nobody, nobody wants that, even if they think they do, they don't.
That said, I havent missed a european tour since 92 and Im not missing this one. 2 nights in London sounds just fine to me. However things dont get off to a good start as there is no support band, this is not good enough as a band of Pearl Jam's size should always be trying to give exposure to younger bands. Anyway, Predictable as ever the sound of Philip Glass's Metamorphis fills the cavernous O2 arena and the band saunter on and, in a timely reminder why I love this band so much, slide into 'Of the Girl'. Did I say they were predictable? The relaxed start continues with Low light and Small town before a frenetic burst of 'Animal', 'Brain of J', 'Even Flow' and Deep lift things up. A welcome return of 'Wishlist' and I'm remembering that I actually quite like the Rolling Stones. This is a set list that I could have written myself.
Among the music however, it is clear that singer Eddie is sick, he talks about seeing a voice doctor, "he cant make me sing like Adele, that's a million dollar voice but he said for 50 quid I could make you sound like Liam Gallacher". He doesn't let up and a welcome return for Love Boat Captain is quite beautiful. The suprises continue with a glorious 'You are' from the vastly underrated Riot Act album and "first time ever in Europe" rendition of a not so glorious Parting Ways (get over it, it's just not that great a song). The concert standard Porch closes the main set out and Eddie is beginning to struggle, the crowd don't care, singing along to every word. It is a reminder that, far from their ethical, DIY roots of the early 90's, this is now a slick and lean stadium band who can seemingly do no wrong.
The encore comes and goes, Black, Footsteps, its pretty standard fare now, interrupted by an unexpected 'Last Kiss' and of course, 'Alive', a once tortured tale of social dysfunction now a cheery frat boy singalong, followed by a closing 'Rocking In the Freeworld'. Its a festival closer to be fair and an unsatisfying end to a gig that ranged from sublime to well, um not so sublime but never ridiculous. Still, there were a lot of gaps that meant the second night was looking like being a special evening..........except of course, next day we are informed that Ed hasn't recovered and night 2 is cancelled. Ho hum, now, did someone say the Rolling Stones are touring?