Sunday, 29 July 2012

Eddie Vedder - Carré Theatre, 25 July 2012

When you are an artist who can announce only a 6 concert European tour and sell out in the blink of an eye, you have to be someone pretty special.

The idea of seeing Eddie Vedder on his own at the Carré did excite me when it was announced. Maybe it is because growing up as a teen, I felt Eddie was singing to me. He, or rather specifically Pearl Jam seemed to write songs that I could really connect with. And although the years have aged us all, and I no longer have the Pearl Jam albums on high rotation, when I do hear a song I still feel a real connection to them.

My expectations of the solo show were minimal, probably because Eddies last album had been Ukulele Songs, so if that’s mostly what he played I would not have been greatly surprised. The day before the concert I found out that Glen Hansard would be supporting him (see here for a review of Glens recent Amsterdam shows) this didn’t increase my expectations of Eddie’s performance but it did increase my excitement of the evenings show.

The Carre Theatre is a fantastic venue and in my 4 years living in Amsterdam this is only the second performer (the other being Solomon Burke) that I have managed to see there. The venue suits an "evening with" a performer very well. When the curtains pulled back to reveal Eddie's stage it fit perfectly to what I wanted to see. There was a round rug surrounded by several amps and a selection of guitars. There were also several other items, such as a pair of golden wings, an old tape player and a projector that all resembled someones (maybe Eddie's) lounge room, just perfectly.

For the first couple of songs on his ukulele, Eddie just sang and said thanks. But very soon into the show he started opening up with stories which were one of the main reasons that I had wanted to go. He read from a written page saying he was Erik and that he was happy to be there in Dutch and the crowd loved it. He then said if they (the crowd) didn’t mind he would be doing the rest of the show in English. 

What followed was several songs from all his recording career. Many songs from the Ukelele Songs album, also songs from Into The Wild, of course some Pear Jam tracks and also a sprinkling of covers. And yes, it was a striped down version of Pearl Jam, very reminiscent of the live MTV sessions that were all the rage back in the late nineties and what I love was that you couldn’t fault his voice even twenty odd years on screaming with Pearl Jam and even at one point in the gig he lay back, on the front row and crowd surfed for a bit.

Before each song Eddie told a bit of a story. I particularly enjoyed the story of him having diner (and several drinks) with Sir Paul Mccartney in which Paul punched Eddie in the face and how it hurt for 3 or 4 days. And further to that, how when the pain went away how he missed it , before he broke into You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away (John Lennon).

Talking about Amsterdam and its freedoms he discussed himself, more in his youth, trying to write songs when stoned and how it is a dicey proposition. Usually because a lot of times you think you have written something great but then you find that it is not. That being said every now and then you might write a gem, and that gem was” Unthought Known” from the Backspacer album.

What followed next was a slightly different version of Pearl Jams Betterman, even still Eddies voice still hits all the notes, and the song was as beautiful to me as the day that I first fell in love with it. That being said my favourite song from the Pearl Jam numbers was Porch. I have always love this song, and this version was great, very stripped back but the crowed sang every word and gave it a great depth.

Later Eddie was joined by Glen on stage and they say another song off Into the Wild, called Society, and as expected Glens harmonies were perfect. Eddie then explained when he met Glen and how he got him to sing on Sleepless nights (from eddies ukulele album) and then thanked him. It was a beautiful version of the song, which in my opinion is the best song on the album.

Then one of the highlights was when they sang Falling, which is a Swell Season song who Glen usually performs with Markéta, and whilst she wasn’t there that night her parents were and Eddie thanked them for producing such a fantastic daughter. To together they produced a very special version of an already fantastic song.

Following that Eddie did a solo version of a cover of a Bruce Springsteen song (Open All Night), which I think he did it with a reasonable amount of justice, which is no easy feat to say the least.

After a few more songs the evening came to an expected end, Eddie did an overdub loop track of him singing different parts and there was an Indian or African feel to it and maybe it was a little homage to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. As it ended he went over to the front row and touched many hands, then he blew a kiss to the crowd, took a bow, tipping his had a disappearing behind the big red curtain and was gone.


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