This isn’t supposed to happen. These guys, that would be the five (or six) members of Pearl Jam, are not supposed to be getting better after 15 years together.
For those unfortunate enough to miss it, the band played a once-in-a-lifetime gig this evening at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City as part of a “Late Show with David Letterman” appearance. After the taping ended, Pearl Jam stayed onstage for a blistering nearly hour-long set broadcast free online, the first time any such thing had ever been done at “The Late Show.”
If you closed your eyes, you could believe it was 1991 again. That’s how visceral this performance was—even via a warbly Internet broadcast, no less! For a second I thought Ed was going to climb into the rafters or something.
The setlist was front-loaded with new material (duh), now that the band’s new album, “Pearl Jam,” is in stores. But the last four songs were older material, including the one-two final punch of “Why Go” and “Porch” (the latter with that sweet jazzy intro that showed up for a little while in 1998). I’m still digesting the new album and this isn’t my official review, but it’s definitely a winner. The new songs sound right at home up against these old warhorses; particular new favorite “Severed Hand” even seems, musically, like a cousin of “Porch,” while “Comatose” instantly ranks among the band’s best punk rockers of any era (think “Go,” “Blood,” or “Spin the Black Circle”) and “Gone” is highly reminiscent of the classic “In Hiding.” (Ahh! Stop! This is not my review!)
Here’s the point: This band, armed with this great new batch of songs, is ready to blow the doors off buildings once again this summer. Every time I think they’ve hit their peak, they somehow manage to raise the bar again. If you don’t go see them, you’re out of your mind. Nobody’s better.
Setlist from “The Late Show with David Letterman”
Life Wasted (for broadcast)
World Wide Suicide
Marker in the Sand
Do the Evolution
And a side note to those derivative morons holding up the “Leash” signs: Enough already. This is not 1998, and “Leash” is not “Breath.” Yes, we pay Pearl Jam a lot of money to watch them play (but not as much as other bands), however that does not make them human jukeboxes. Not to mention the fact they go out of their way to make each and every night special and more than worth the money. Ed held up his own sign that read: “LEASH Will Not Be Played.” Let it go. This stupid “campaign” is only going to piss them off, and when they’re playing like this, irritating them is insane.