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Concert Mon Jul 22 2013

Pearl Jam Rocks Wrigley Despite Rain Delay


The wind was blowing out on a hot and humid Friday afternoon at the corner of Clark and Addison, which always is a perfect recipe for a lot of hits. With the Cubs in Colorado, playing the Rockies, the hits came from grunge-era rockers Pearl Jam, who made their debut in the Friendly Confines.

The iconic band, which has played together for the past 20-plus years, has seen it all, playing in legendary venues from The Offramp in Seattle to Soldier Field. It only was a matter of time before they rocked it out in front of the ivy.

Though hailing from Seattle, front man Eddie Vedder was born and raised in Evanston, and grew up rooting on the northsiders back when "Mr. Cub," Ron Santo and Billy Williams were gracing the covers of programs. So needless to say, the anticipation of hearing classic 90s hits such as "Alive," "Even Flow," and "Spin The Black Circle;" Mr. Vedder's homecoming; a beautiful sunset in a gem of a ballpark made for a perfect storm in what was to be a night to remember. That's right when the wind began to shift from the west and cloud cover began to set in.

The show kicked off a little before 8:30pm with the familiar tear-jerking ballad "Release," off of the band's debut album Ten. As each song began, more and more clouds began to form overhead, which appeared to turn darker in color with flashes of lightning in the distance.

PearlJamRain.jpg.jpgThe band played on, ripping through slower jams which included "Nothingman," "Low Light," and "Come Back." After the band finished its seventh song of the early evening, the catchy sing-along "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town," Mr. Vedder did his best Tom Skilling impression and announced the band and crew were going to pack it up and head for cover for a little while, due to the impending storm, but promised they'd be back to finish out the evening.

And just like that, those who waited in line earlier in the afternoon to make their way to the front of the stage, were now being asked to head to the tunnels in order to avoid injury from a storm that promised to pack a punch. No one seemed to mind, however, especially with memories of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse in 2011, due to a storm ripping through the Midwest.

With the crowd heading for cover on the infield, the crowds tucked away under the grandstands made its way to beer lines and bathrooms, all in a friendly, casual manner. Where something of this magnitude might not have gone so graciously 20 years ago with single, early 20-somethings, when grunge rock swept the world with angry lyrics and cynicism, a more patient and understanding 40-something crowd made friends and exchanged pictures on smart phones, comparing Pearl Jam baby onsies and stories of their respective concert-going experiences in days past.

It's funny how time manages to heal all wounds and calm the soul from youthful aggression. There once was a time when Mr. Vedder himself would scowl at a flashing camera or appear short in conversation with a cheering crowd at a show, in an attempt to be private, perhaps in fear of losing some sort of innocence that comes with being an artist. Then, somewhere along the way, perhaps after fathering his first child, he appeared more playful at shows and more approachable to the public.

Nevertheless, Mr. Vedder, and the band in general, have remained just as popular as ever — perhaps even more so — and managed to keep every single patron inside the halls of Wrigley and wait out the two-and-one-half hour delay.

PearlJamCrowdGone.jpgAs Friday slowly drifted into Saturday morning, the clouds cleared, the temperature dropped, if only a few degrees, and the crowds began to make their way back onto the field for the remainder of the show. The crew peeled away tarps over equipment and tested strobe lights and spot lights, as well as the two giant jumbotrons on either side of the stage.

The questions remaining were how much longer the band would play and what would they start with after the long delay. It would have been easy to send the crowd into a frenzy with such heavy jolts as "Spin The Black Circle," or "Evolution," but Mr. Vedder strolled out with his acoustic guitar, thanked everyone for their patience, promised the rain-soaked crowd the curfew had been extended and introduced his buddy, Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub himself, to help him along with his love song to his favorite team, "Someday We'll Go All The Way."

From there, the band cranked through a set list of heavier tunes that included "All Night," "State of Love and Trust," and "Rearviewmirror." The band also jumped into three brand new songs, which will appear on its upcoming album, Lightning Bolt, available on October 15. The first was the the band's current single, "Mind Your Manners," a high-tempo track with aggressive guitar rips from Mike McCready. The next was the album title track "Lightning Bolt," and the third, a beautiful ballad, "Future Days," which opens with longtime producer Brendan O'Brien on the piano and started right after the encore break.

In between, the crowd was treated to what now has become Pearl Jam staples, or even clich├ęs, such as McCready playing the guitar behind his head; the heart-stopping finish to "Rearviewmirror;" the band closing with Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World." And while all of these predictable moves are always satisfying and nailed with perfection, it was refreshing to see something rare, like Vedder strolling out with an accordion to play the very paranoid-sounding "Bugs," or the old Mother Love Bone track "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns."

As the night wound down/morning drew near, the band kept everyone engaged and awake. On this night, there weren't any complaints from Wrigleyville rooftop owners about any jumbotrons or noise ordinance orders from within the town charter. There wasn't any bickering between Alderman Tom Tunney, the city council and Beth Murphy, owner of Murphy's Bleachers and spokesperson for the Wrigleyville Rooftops. There only was good music, a double-header of a show and a more matured crowd, cheering on its band they grew up with lo these many years.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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