By Zachary Swickey
Pearl Jam celebrated their 20th anniversary in style over the weekend with their two-day fest, “PJ20.” Held at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin, on Saturday and Sunday, Eddie Vedder and his musical brethren triumphantly ended the holiday weekend with a massive three-hour set, according to Billboard.
The show reportedly featured all of the classics – “Alive,” “Jeremy,” “Even Flow,” “Daughter” – but the bevy of special guests is what truly showed Pearl Jam’s influence and musical legacy. Scratching each other’s backs, the fest became a hodge-podge of onstage collabs. Vedder showed his appreciation for the opening acts: adding vocals and percussion to the set by Liam Finn, duetting with John Doe for his tune “Golden State,” mellowing out on Glen Hansard’s “Falling Slowly” (a song from Hansard’s Irish indie flick “Once”) and rocking out with the Strokes on “Juicebox.”
Everyone obliged in returning the favor as Pearl Jam brought out guest after guest throughout their lengthy set. Glen Hansard, David Garza and Joseph Arthur all joined PJ for their No Code B-side, “All Night.” Julian Casablancas, sans the Strokes, swaggered onstage for a rendition of “Red Mosquito,” while Beatles offspring Dhani Harrison contributed to the oldie-but-goodie “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town.”
Pearl Jam had trouble saying goodbye as they came out for three different encores, the first of which featured a new, solo acoustic song Vedder had specially written in the last 24 hours – “to be so in love with life as we are now / never thought we could / so glad we made it ‘til when it all got good,” he sang. The guys even dusted off a cover of Public Image Ltd’s self-titled song, “Public Image,” and once again brought out Irish vocalist Glen Hansard of Swell Season for “Smile.”
Check out Evanescence’s Amy Lee talking about Pearl Jam’s impact:
The second encore brought forth the most exciting guest of all, Chris Cornell, whose inclusion thus re-formed the 90’s supergroup Temple of the Dog on stage (the group was essentially Pearl Jam plus Cornell, and released their sole album in April of ’91). Previous Dog reunions have been sparse and sporadic over the years, but Sunday’s appearance included more songs than any previous rekindling. Four Dog tunes got the live treatment, “Hunger Strike,” “Call Me A Dog,” “All Night Thing” and “Reach Down,” which featured an onstage sing-a-long that included Harrison, Garza, Finn and Hansard once again. Following Cornell’s epic appearance, Seattle’s iconic indie act Mudhoney came out to join PJ for a cover of the classic punk anthem “Sonic Reducer.”
For their last and final encore, Pearl Jam appropriately kicked into their ’91 hit “Alive” before bringing out all the acts on the bill for a powerful Neil Young cover, “Rockin’ in the Free World.” The night came to a close as Pearl Jam segued from fan favorite and Ten-outtake “Yellow Ledbetter” to a ferocious rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”