The musical icons that are Pearl Jam played their first and long-awaited show of 2022 in San Diego this week. Viejas Arena was sold out and filled to the brim with excited fans of all ages. The wait was finally over for the “Gigaton” tour.
While they are called a Seattle band, the group – specifically Eddie Vedder and Matt Cameron – actually have long-standing ties to San Diego. Vedder and Cameron, along with Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Mike McCready put on a phenomenal show. Their interaction with the crowd is very reminiscent of a Springsteen show.
They opened with “Oceans” to a screaming crowd and it evolved from there. They played a lot of new music off “Gigaton.” The crowd ate it up, songs like “Retrograde,” “Never Destination,” “Dance of the Clairvoyants,” “Superblood Wolfmoon,” and “Seven O’Clock” received a very-very good reception. Of course the fans got plenty of classics to get cartoon crazy over, “Even Flow,” “Daughter,” “Jeremy,” “Given to Fly,” and “Corduroy.”
Vedder did a lot of talking throughout the evening and said he felt like he was home. He told the story of a gentleman who requested a song because he had lost his brother in an accident. Vedder said he could relate to him since his family had gone through the same situation when his brother died in an accident a few years ago.
Vedder’s brother Chris Mueller worked at Viejas Arena as a rigger, and Vedder could see his brother’s silhouette in the rafters the last time they played there. The local crew installed a plaque to honor Mueller and Vedder was touched by the gesture and support. He then dedicated “Long Road” to him and everyone held up their cell phone flashlights and honored his memory. His mother, brothers, nephews, and uncle were also there, and Vedder said they had all been holding each other close to get them through the tragedy.
In addition to family members, Vedder pointed out other friends in the audience: NBA star Bill Walton, Vedder’s childhood guitar teacher, and drummer Matt Cameron’s drum teacher. They joked that Mike McCready’s guitar teacher was never at a show; apparently he tried and he couldn’t get in.
Vedder also spoke about how many amazing drummers we have lost in the past two years: Charlie Watts, Neil Peart, and most recently, Taylor Hawkins.
Pearl Jam ended the show in a very high note and came back with a nice mix of new and old in the here and now. Their encore included “Lightning Bolt,” “Better Man,” “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town,” “River Cross,” “Footsteps,” “Once” and fan favorite, “Alive”!
Red Hot Chili Peppers former guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, opened the show with his solo side project, Pluralone. He is now a touring member of Pearl Jam, so it is convenient to have him as the opener on the tour.
It was a fantastic night of music, stories, and memories. Every time I shoot Pearl Jam, it’s a full circle life moment for me. I grew up watching their music videos on MTV, and I would watch the iconic video for “Jeremy” over and over again. I never imagined that I would grow up, move across the country, and get to photograph them as often as I have. Dreams really do come true.
The journey continues for Pearl Jam with the “Gigaton” tour. They are definitely a must see band in 2022.