Pearl Jam Delivers Powerful Performance in Missoula September 5, 2018 14:49

Words and Photos by Kinsey Blake Haynes

Pearl Jam performed their first “Away” show to a [sold-out] crowd of 25,000+ on Monday August 13th, in Missoula, MT - the hometown of bassist Jeff Ament.

This particular concert was a charity even for the band’s Rock2Vote Initiative which strives to help Montana residents register to vote. It was also a campaign rally for Senator Jon Tester, who is running for again for office in November.

Washington-Grizzly Stadium was packed to the top with fans screaming as the band walked out the 1994 Vitalogy track “Aye Davanita.”

Ed Vedder graced the stage wearing a white leather “Evel Knievel” jacket, (which appears to be an homage to the legendary stuntman who is buried down the road in Butte, Montana.)

The band started off slow with tracks “Pendulum” and “Low Light” before launching into raucous, fan favorites “Go” and “Do The Evolution” followed by Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros’ “Arms Aloft” and “Mind Your Manners.”

“Music brings people together and we are glad that everyone came out for a very important reason,” said Vedder. “Jeff, thank you for organizing this and inviting us. It is nice to be back.”

The crowd started cheering “Jeff! Jeff! Jeff!” which was a beautiful sound echoing across the Montana mountains.  

Vedder told a story about Paul McCartney playing in the same stadium a few years prior and started playing a few seconds of The Beatles’ “Blackbird.”

He mentions The Rolling Stones have played there as well, which inspires lead guitarist, Mike McCready, to play a note from “Jumping Jack Flash,” to which Vedder had the idea of all members of the band playing a different Stones song - at the same time.  

Ed makes a comment about being the first band to play this stadium twice.

“A person who brags about crowd size isn’t really a good guy,” said Vedder. Without naming anyone, it was obvious who Ed was referring to, since he made a comment about this person breaking Elton John’s records. Ed said he would only brag if Montana had its largest voter turnout in the election. “That I would brag about all day,” he said.

“Corduroy”, “Pilate”, and “Even Flow” followed his ramblings and he proceeded to tell an appreciation story about drummer Matt Cameron.

“How about a little history,” asked Vedder. “We were on campus 21 years ago today. It  was the first real show we played with Matt Cameron was right here on this stage.” The band played the Cameron drum favorite “In My Tree.”

The show progressed with “Down”, “Lightning Bolt”, “Not For You/Modern Girl(tag)”, “Daughter/It's OK(tag)”, “Setting Forth”, and “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town”

Ed points out a couple in the front row wearing matching t shirts that say “I <3 Sex & Beer.”

“I am glad you found each other,” said Vedder. “Now, I am gonna give these to you and I want to watch you enjoy them.” The couple, Keith and Angie Torgerud from Wisconsin, drove in two days before the show to wait in the 10 Club general admission line with several family members and  friends to ensure they were front and center. Keith and Angie were high school sweethearts and were 17 and 15 when they met.

Pearl Jam recently released their first single in five years, the politically charged “Can’t Deny Me” and Vedder had some intriguing thoughts on its content: “I want to say before the next song that election day should be a national holiday,” he said. “The best thing is on that day we are all equal. It is a right and a responsibility. “We need to vote in big numbers because there are complications like big money, corruption and Russians. Voting is the Antidote. It is your vote they can’t deny.”

They played the new politically charged anthem with a raw energy that was remnant of their early days playing in small clubs (See Vancouver, 1991) and closed out their first set with “Porch.”

The second set began with two songs Vedder said were “ones for the serious collector.” The songs were “Bee Girl” and “Fatal” which has only been played eight times total!

After the initial excitement of rare songs, Pearl Jam continued with a cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine”, then played fan favorite “Given To Fly”, followed by the Neil Young song “Throw Your Hatred Down.”

“Better Man” was tagged with U2’s “With Or Without You”, The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”, and the classic “Save It For Later” tag which is now a staple in the song.

Their popular hit “Jeremy”, a cover of Joe Strummer’s “Know Your Rights, “Alive”, “Rockin’ In The Free World”, and “Indifference” closed out the evening and left fans satisfied with the performance.

Ed’s final words were thank yous to Evel Knievel, the band, and Jon Tester “for being someone we can believe in and trust.”

For two hours and 46 minutes, fans were singing, crying, laughing, chanting, and existing together for a common reason: music.

Setlist: Pearl Jam - Missoula, MT - 08.13.18

Low Light
Do the Evolution
Arms Aloft (Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros cover)
Mind Your Manners
Even Flow
In My Tree
Lightning Bolt
Not for You (with 'Modern Girl' tag)
Daughter (with "It's Ok" tag)
Setting Forth (Eddie Vedder song)
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
Can't Deny Me

Bee Girl
Imagine (John Lennon cover)
Given to Fly
Throw Your Hatred Down (Neil Young cover)
Better Man
Know Your Rights (The Clash cover)
Rockin' in the Free World (Neil Young cover)

*"Green Disease" and "Got Some" were on the setlist, but not played.