Well, that’s it, I’ve marked down my new favorite concert experience thus far. Wow! That was one incredible performance by the insanely talented, Pearl Jam. The band performed two nights at the LA Sports Arena in Los Angeles, CA this weekend. I got the amazing opportunity to attend night two of the Lightning Bolt Tour.
Walking into the LA Sports Arena, I felt an urge of excitement as it was my first time seeing Pearl Jam in Los Angeles. As I walked into the arena, I was so surprised to see how perfect of a size it was for a show like this. It wasn’t too big where you couldn’t see the band, but large enough to be a killer show! People did have seats behind the stage, but there was plenty of room to see the band. It’s almost like backstage passes for those people! The whole atmosphere glowed with positive energy. Our seats were amazing! We sat on the stage left side about 50 rows back. Such an incredible view. My excitement was growing like crazy!
We became friendly with others around us and everyone of the fellow Pearl Jam fans all had great attitudes. It’s great when you can actually meet new friends through a band you love. We grabbed beers, sat back, and waited for the guys to start the show.
The lights dimmed and the night was on. Cheers filled the air along with chants for the band to come out and perform. I started to hear them beginning to play their track “Oceans” as the stage started illuminating with colorful oversized lightbulbs. They looked incredible. The bulbs descended from the ceiling in unison. Eddie Vedder then cracked open his ever-so-famous bottle of wine to start off night two of the LA Sports Arena shows.
The band started the night off with a bang. Everyone around me was screaming every word of the first few songs. I love that sound. You know, when you hear that whole audience singing together. Its honestly quite incredible.
Speaking of incredible, let’s talk about this stage production! I have never seen such a simple, yet beautiful stage design for a rock band. About 10 large light bulbs filled with colorized LEDs hung from the risers on a motorized retractor. The centerpiece was practically a huge piece of art. At least I thought it was super artistic. It was basically tons of metal tubing cluttered together to make a bundle of steel that the top lighting could disperse through. It also had extra lighting hidden within it. Very cool to see, especially when it began to move and change shapes during “Present Tense” off of their 1996 album, No Code. There were also many smaller bulb designs standing upright in the back of the stage. Such a great design with the open back of the stage.
Let’s get back to the music… They went on to perform tracks such as “Corduroy” and “Lightning Bolt.” Colors of bright blue and orange filled the stage along with powerful strobes and movement of the suspended light bulbs. Each song had a completely new scenery with the placement of the bulbs and centerpiece. It was so clever. They need to give that production coordinator and lighting designer a raise! Excellent work.
I kept seeing fans hitting a blow-up soccer ball around the venue. What’s a concert without some stuff flying around anyways? Eddie even kicked it around. They went on to perform an amazing set with more tracks from their newest album, Lightning Bolt, including “Sirens” and “My Father’s Son.” They amped up the energy in the room with “Given To Fly” as the lights bursted with bright whites and lit up the venue.
They continued with the widely known favorite “Even Flow.” This was one of the highlight performances of the night. Mike McCready took his guitar, placed it behind his back, and played the most incredible solo I’ve heard at a live show. He flipped it back in front of him to continue the solo, but oh, don’t be fooled! He turned it back around to play even more licks behind his back. Seriously this guy is the reason I ever began playing electric guitar. Such an inspiration.
They performed about 18-20 songs in their first set. After a very short break and outfit change, the band arrived back on stage to keep the positive energy flowing. The band took seats and performed some slower jams like “Betterman” and “Daughter.” We even saw Eddie bust out his ukulele with the name ‘Clarence” written on it. Great vibes continued to soak in the air. Eddie paid his respects to a fellow friend from the Philippines in the crowd and dedicated a song to the country for all the hardships they are currently dealing with. Eddie has such a big heart.
Can we talk about the video screens for a second? This was a huge addition to my concert experience. The video clips were such artistic and beautiful shots, and were very well put together. They had so many cameras around the stage, but you couldn’t even see them! Which is why this was so great. Fisheye cameras were mounted on stage, a couple camera operators walked the stage, and a standalone robotic camera capturing Mike McCready’s solos were placed so well around that it made for such a great way to watch the show on top of seeing it in front of your eyes. Most of the show the video clips were in beautiful black and white. A few songs contained color, but I truly loved how artistic the black and white clips were. A+ to those camera operators.
Eddie said something really cool during the show. He mentioned that he saw lots of couples in the crowd and he said, “Miss them when they’re here. That’ll solve the problem. Then miss them even more when they’re gone.” Eddie is such an inspiring individual. Always has something great to say at the right moment in a performance. He introduced the whole band including their keyboardist and organ player, Boom Gaspar. Stone Gossard always puts on an excellent performance. I love some of those Les Paul guitars he owns. Eddie took time to say how great their drummer, Matt Cameron, was and with a laugh he said how he was happy that he decided to join the band even if Eddie was in it.
This band is so great. I have been a fan for so long and this was honestly one of the best performances I have seen. Hats off to the production crew as they put on a beautiful set design that provided us with something unique and different for each song. A huge high five to the entire crew of the band, even including the guy who simply makes sure Eddie’s mic cable doesn’t get tangled when he runs into the first row of the crowd.
They went on to perform the rest of the set as well as an encore performance. Eddie performed a Lou Reed song to pay tribute to his passing. He got a bit emotional and did Lou’s song justice. At the encore, Eddie took the mic and said “When does a Pearl Jam concert end? When they f*ckin’ kick us out!” The encore included “Love, Reign O’er Me” and my favorite, “Alive.” Something happened during this performance that I don’t know if many people saw. Eddie made eye contact with a particular fan holding a sign near the front. I happened to look at the video screen and for a short second they showed her sign which read, “PJ Saved My Life.” This was epically beautiful because it showed on the screen when Eddie sang “I’m still alive.” So perfect, I loved it. The last song was another one of my favorites. Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World.”
Eddie threw out tambourines to the crowd. I saw one guy catch it and I know that was a huge moment in his life. He was so happy! I would be too! They hit their final note and the crowd roared with excitement. Everyone had an absolute blast.
Well, I hope you got a good perspective on how this show went at the LA Sports Arena. Go buy Pearl Jam’s newest album titled Lightning Bolt and go see them live! They will absolutely put on a show you’ll always remember. Until next time!