Monday 30th July, Review by by Nix Crawford
A packed Hammersmith Apollo wait patiently as Mr Vedder’s labcoat-wearing crew set up the stage ready for his first ever solo performance in London, the first of two dates at the Apollo. The setup is minimal; numerous guitars, ukuleles, suitcases and a old-style recorder dotted around a rug- the stage resembles an antique shop that’s spilled into the square of a small town….
Eddie strolls on looking relaxed and unassuming, opening with Walking the Cow (a Daniel Johnston cover). After subtly asking the crowds to go easy on the photography flashes, Eddie picks up one of the ukuleles and the first Pearl Jam song of the night makes an appearance, third on the setlist – Can’t Keep, from the album Riot Act. Eddie rattles through four songs off his Ukulele Songs album (Sleeping by Myself, Without You, More Than You Know and Broken Heart).
Eddie likens a broken heart to stopped clocks and watches “twice a day they tell the right time. Hearts are the same, even if your heart is broken with two threads holding it together, don’t thrown it away”. Broken Heart goes down well with the audience, and the couple of bars he plays with the distortion pedal whacked on, go down an absolute storm.
Vedder effortlessly runs through three other Pearl Jam songs (I Am Mine, Dead Man and Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town) and a Pink Floyd cover (Brain Damage), before a series of tracks from Into The Wild. The audience remains captivated, seeming to enjoy Guaranteed the most, despite Eddie’s songbook falling off its stand causing him to restart the song. It’s another cover (Good Woman by Cat Power) before the audience is treated to the next Pearl Jam song. Barely one bar into Betterman and the crowd are singing their lungs out.
Unfortunately Vedder sings in a different phrasing, and the audience slowly quieten when they realise they’re out of time with Vedder’s alternative take on the Pearl Jam classic. The crowd are left pining for more Pearl Jam classics to sing along to, but until Porch (the 21st song on this epic set list) their wish is not granted, but boy oh boy, it’s worth the wait. Vedder does not disappoint, belting out every word, note perfect.
Vedder’s first encore of the night is a further seven songs which include three covers which he performs with Glen Hansard (the support act for Vedder’s tour).
Just as I was beginning to get annoyed at yet another duet, another cover, Vedder and Hansard perform Sleepless Nights, an Everley Brothers cover, totally unplugged and unmic-ed, stood at the very front of the stage. The audience are captivated and silent. Vedder leaves the stage for a second time after setting up a loop with key riffs from Arc (off Riot Act) with a variety of vocal warblings that demonstrate his raw capability and talent.
I can’t help but feel a slight disappointment that not a single Temple of the Dog track made it on to the whopping 29-song set list. What’s one more song? Was I the only one who had spent hours daydreaming about Chris Cornell joining Vedder on stage for Hunger Strike?
The second and final encore of the night is a spectacular rendition of Hard Sun, from Into the Wild. Joined once again by Glen Hansard.
The crowd stop in their tracks as they start to spill out of the venue, to sing along and lap up the last few moments of this epic show. Impeccable delivery throughout the show reminds the audience that Vedder continues to hold his position as a veritable grunge god!