In Review: Eddie Vedder, Solo Tour, Melbourne, March 24th 2011

Dear Audy,

I cannot think of anything that I would rather do than sit in a darkened room and watch Eddie Vedder make masterful music. The man is incredible.

(click image for source)

I was a latecomer to Pearl Jam fandom. Back in the days when they were fresh and taking the grunge scene by storm, I was still listening to teenage girl garbage. It was only that I happened to go along with a friend to see them play live, when they toured for Riot Act, that I discovered how mind-blowing their music is and was drawn in by their dynamic, intense and stunningly talented frontman, Eddie.

I was hooked. I listened to nothing but their back catalogue for months and I haven’t since missed the chance to see them live, they never disappoint.

Last night, for the first time, Eddie Vedder played in Melbourne without the rest of Pearl Jam. I have been shaking with excitement since I first heard about the tour and bought tickets months ago. It felt like I had won the lottery. Eddie Vedder was coming to play at The Palais (my favourite venue in Melbourne) and I had scored front row balcony seats!

In The Palais, this section of seating is referred to as “The Lounge” on account of the seats are wider, squishier and more comfortable than the rest of the theatre. Sure, the front row front row is the best place to be close to an artist, however the balcony is the best place to be for the best sound. I couldn’t have asked for better seats! I also couldn’t have been more thrilled that the gig was in a theatre, as opposed to the stadium shows that Pearl Jam usually tours. Stadiums are great fun and all, but really not the best places for sound quality.

Eddie is nothing if not pure quality. Top of the line rock star. First grade.

Performing the night before in Sydney. Click image for source.

I loved the little retro, homey set; old suitcases, a rug and the circular design of the minimal staging helped to create a feeling of intimacy, almost like being privy to a private session between Eddie and the music.

Oh, the music. If, for some alien overlord’s reason, I was forced to only hear one voice singing for the rest of my life then it would be Eddie’s. Mmmm, so deep, so rumbly, so powerful and distinctly articulate. The kind of voice you hear with your chest, ricocheting off your ribs. A superbly crafted instrument that delivers songs that have aged decades without a trace of waning emotion and always with a new take, a different view, renewed vigour.

The setlist included some Pearl Jam classics, some tracks from the soundtrack to Into The Wild; Vedder’s only solo album to date and many brilliantly performed covers, including his much loved versions of You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away (The Beatles cover, originally from the I Am Sam soundtrack) and Rockin’ In The Free World (Neil Young cover) – this was a total evening highlight, the crowd went nuts, Eddie went off and the balcony danced under the pressure of a hundred stomping feet.

The absence of the rest of his band (who are amazing) gave a chance to really appreciate the seemingly endless talent that boils inside this musician. The music vibrates out of his every pore. The intensity with which he strums his guitars and ukeleles, with which he pounds his foot on a cool amplifying box-y-ma-thing, was awe inspiring. Also, inspiring, inspiring; there is something magical about watching someone do what they do and do it so well.

Eddie teased with mention of an upcoming solo album that he is releasing, all tracks performed with a ukelele. Ah, so rustic. There is something so utterly genuine about a musician who can create masterpieces with only the simplest of tools. The preview he gave is making me drool with anticipation about this album. I. Cannot. Wait.

Wielding his trusty uke, Eddie gave us a re-inspired version of Better Man – a song that most members of the 1990s and any Pearl Jam fan knows inside out and back to front. His peeled back solo performance gave the song a new feel, a deeper connection to the lyrics, a fresh and fascinating reincarnation. Simply superb.

Elderly Woman was as moving as ever; this is one of my favourite songs of all time. As is tradition, the crowd lights shine brightly when Eddie reaches the lyric “I just wanna scream…HELLO”. This element never fails to bring a smile to my face as my eyes squint and I feel connected to both the performance and the room filled with ecstatic fans.

Wishlist never fails to delight and I couldn’t help but bounce in my seat with joy when he strummed the opening chords. Such a sweet, nostalgic song. How I wish I was the full moon shining off a Camaro’s hood…

The second encore ended with heightened fabulousness. For his final song, a performance of Hard Sun (from Into The Wild) the back drop became an an ocean covered with clouds sporting licks like those of painted surfer waves. The stage filled with smoke, giving another ocean illusion and my grin managed to get even wider. Pearl Jam has long preserved their surfer vibe, they surely have more tracks built on ocean references than any other band and Eddie has long been a surfie, grunge god. He knows his audience.

Leaving his seat as the song built, Eddie reminded us that “Oh, by the way, I’m a fucking rock star”. He didn’t need to say it, he emanates it. A couple of his signature rocking out poses and the crowd was going insane, myself included. He is a performer with such energy that it can fill arenas and during most of last night, all that energy and intensity that usually has him jumping around a stage was channeled into his music…ah, I’m running out of words for awesome.

See the full set list here.

I love the fact that, in this internet era, Eddie Vedder is still an untouchable, ever evolving rock GOD. You won’t find him on Twitter. You won’t find him exploiting himself, or explaining his art. Why should he? Such brilliance needs no embellishment. His in-between song chatting is always amusing and the rare chance to hear him speak feels like a privilege.

His kind of wonderful simply needs appreciation and by golly, I will be savouring last night for years to come.

Love & Rock Royalty,

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  • 16 thoughts on “In Review: Eddie Vedder, Solo Tour, Melbourne, March 24th 2011

    1. Tara


      You described the night to a tee. My fiance and I were also in the lounge and I just can’t get over how amazing it was, words can’t describe him. Your description is perfect, what a man, what a night!


      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Hehe, “words can’t describe” was my immediate reaction afterward too. The lights came up and my friend said something like “that was so awesome”, to which my response was gahgahoohahgah! (or some such dribble) 😛

    2. Mookie

      Cool review. I was there and it was without a doubt the most amazing show I have ever been to. I returned again for round two on the Friday night. And on Sunday I will make the trip for his first Adelaide show. Words cannot express how amazing Eddie Vedder is.

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Ah, so jealous!! I would have bought tickets to multiple shows if I wasn’t so bloody poor! I am sure the rest of the shows would have been just as amazing…you could quite well be living the best weekend ever!!

    3. Lisa_Pink

      I was there on Friday night too. I feel truly blessed to have listened to Eddie Vedders voice live. That is an instrument in itself. He has such a rich earthy voice. I am not a massive pearl jam fan and I first noticed him when he sang the stirring song “Long Road ” for the 9/11 America: A Tribute to Heros telethon and it was on T.V. here in Australia. Then I had my breath taken away when I heard him sing Throw your arm’s around me with another who’s voice I love, our very own Mark Seymour. I then heard him sing with another band I love, Crowded house. Tim Finn and Eddie sing “Stuff and Nonscence” Now it is a past time of mine to go surfing, riding the Eddie waves on the greatest tube of all, ye ol’ faithful youtube. Be still my heart, “Forever Young”.

      Any way I agree whole heartedly with you. Cheers, Lisa.

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        It’s nice to hear another person’s story about falling in love with THAT voice! I think once you’re hooked it’s hard to stop :) Glad to read that you have such a great time too, by far one of the best gigs I have ever been too!!

    4. Mookie

      Just got back from Adelaide. I tell ya, I could experience an Eddie Vedder concert every night for the rest of my life and never grow tired. I don’t know how I managed to score them, but I had front row seats in Adelaide. After twenty years of listening to the band I was within a couple of metres of this amazing guy. It was the most emotionally crippling concert I think I will ever witness. It was simply beautiful.

      And testament to the power the guy has, at the second Melbourne show the chick sitting next to me had flown in from LA that morning and was heading back out Monday. She came just for Eddie. This is what the man inspires.

      Three incredible show. I don’t know how I am going to get back to reality.

    5. Love Boat Maiden

      When Eddie first released his tour details, Perth was left off the list and i was devastated, but adamant I would not miss out. So I managed to secure tickets for Sydney and then did backflips when I found out he would include Perth after all! Luckily for me I managed to get tickets for the Perth show also and I couldn’t be happier with how it all worked out!! I got to see this amazing man twice in 2 weeks and am still enshrouded by the Eddie “haze’ that surrounds me. I have been humming Big Hard Sun now for 2 weeks. He is just pure genius. Dead set legend. His voice is so unique, so engaging and I agree with absolutely everything you have said about his performance. I feel like the luckiest girl in Perth to have sat listening (and weeping at times!) to him for 2 magical nites. In both Sydney and Perth he started with Long Road and ended with Big Hard Sun. There were some epic PJ songs in both shows, and true to Eddie’s form…the covers he has made his own are an absolute treat. I’m just so rapt to read your review of his show, and I think the followers of Ed would all agree you know and write of him as a true and faithful fan. Loved reading it!

      Think I should wrap it up now…if only I could in Eddie style….with a skull of Margaret River Red and a puff of a ciggie!! What a rock god!

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Thank you! It’s so great to hear from other Eddie fans, most of my friends don’t really get why I so obsessed. You’re so lucky to have been able to go twice, I dare say you probably are the luckiest girl in Perth! From the descriptions of your appreciation, I can tell that luck went to just the right person 😉

    6. Jeanne


      I am so, so, so happy for you that you went to this concert!! I know how much you love Eddie Vedder! His voice is really unique and amazing! Your post leaves me wanting to go dig up some Eddie Vedder to listen right now. 😉 There’s nothing quite like a live show like this – one that resonates so deeply with people. The energy is always better in a venue like what you described than in some huge stadium or something. I’m very, very happy that you had such an awesome time!


      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Thanks, Jeanne! It was certainly an amazing night. So glad to have had it as I haven’t really felt well since then, so it’s a nice memory to have while I get back to better again. I hope you are feeling well today xoxo

    7. Erika

      I must say you put to words what I feel about Eddie. I’ve loved him since Ten, back then he stole my heart with his voice. I just got my tickets to see him in Philly at the end of the month. I was searching set lists to see what else he might sing, as I am hoping he will do some PJ stuff and Into the Wild songs in addition to the newly released Uke songs. To be honest I’d listen to him sing the phone book! Looking forward to this more than I have most things in my life. I’ve seen PJ before but stadium style, I went ahead and spent the loot on 4th row seats as I know the opportunities like this are not often. To sit that close to him as he is creates and pours his heart out I know will be a cherished experience. Thank you for writing about your experience, It adds to my excitement to know the type of show he put on just a few short months ago. Also for putting into words what I could only feel.

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        You are going to have such a wonderful time!! Thanks for this comment, I’m eagerly awaiting the new album in Aussie iTunes, want it now! Enjoy the show, it is right up the top of my vague “favourite things ever” list 😀 x

    8. Espana

      I never expected this. That a male performer like Eddie Vedder can create such a tender, powerful, and beautiful set of songs, on a ukelele no less, is just astonishing. This CD restored my love for current generation musical performers in one listening. I sit here stunned by the beauty of this man’s talent. Five stars is not enough.

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