Jamming with Eddie Vedder
Someone in the audience requested the song from Dead Man Walking. Eddie Vedder was unphased.
I can do that, he replied and shuffled to another guitar.
Just give me a minute.
The Pearl Jam frontman was well into the first extended encore of his solo gig in Melbourne. His latter remark obviously referred to his weariness. But he still played Dead Man a couple of songs later.
The show was the first of two at the Palais Theatre in St Kilda. It was near the end of an Australian tour. But Vedder's energy was not found wanting.
It felt like a very intimate show. Almost like just me and Eddie. There might have been a couple of thousand other people there, but it didn't matter.
Vedder is one of the hardest working musicians around. He is also a very engaging performer. He is down to earth, frequently chatting with the audience and telling stories between songs. He clearly enjoys himself.
My favourite songs
The concert featured 30 songs. Vedder drew on his Into The Wild soundtrack. He also played a wealth of covers from The Beatles and Neil Young to Pink Floyd and Nine Inch Nails. Of course, he also played some Pearl Jam classics. My favourite songs were:
- Around the bend
- Elderly woman
- Rockin' in the free world.
Vedder played several different guitars without accompaniment. It was sometimes raucous, sometimes gentle. Simple staging and lighting made the two hour show more intimate. The crowd was very enthusiastic.
The Palais Theatre
The Palais is a great venue to see a band. In the past 20 years I have seen acts at the Palais like Midnight Oil, The John Butler Trio and Lou Reed.
I am a wheelchair user. I find it is a great place to view a band provided the audience doesn't stand up. I wasn't impressed with my view of people's backs at the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
Access to live music
Access to live music in the regional city where I live is pathetic. There are some local artists and some good acts from the big smoke. But there is only one venue they play. That pub is reachable only by a couple of flights of narrow stairs. Around 10 years ago, three or four mates precariously carried me up in my wheelchair several times. But that was not sustainable. The trip down was always scary too.
I now travel to Melbourne frequently to see live gigs. It's a logistical nightmare arranging reasonable wheelchair accessible accommodation and train travel. I do it regularly, but sometimes wonder if it's worth the effort.
A memorable show
To see Eddie Vedder, it was over seven hours of travel. But the show made it worthwhile. Vedder didn't try to reclaim the tambourine he gave me in 2006, either. He would have had to fight, make no mistake.