Pearl Jam in top form at the Gorge

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Eddie Vedder & Mike McCready at the Gorge in 2005. Photo by Steven Friederich

It was billed as “an evening with Pearl Jam” and what an evening it was.

Eddie Vedder and the rest of Pearl Jam delivered their best local concert of the last five years while returning to the form of the group’s glory days. The band played as if it was 1992 all over again, attempting to regain the brilliance that it never really lost. It’s safe to say the cliché about wine getting better with age can now be applied to Pearl Jam.

Their first Gorge show in 12 years, the night was divided into two portions, with the first part of the show performed mostly acoustic. “Given to Fly” and “Save You” started the plugged-in portion, but “Do The Evolution,” really kicked things into full gear. Vedder’s hair whirled through the air as he shouted “It’s evolution baby!”

During “Even Flow,” Mike McCready played a solo behind his head while twisting and contorting his wiry frame as if he were feeling the power of rock surge through his body. Later, the band tore into the fierce trio of “State of Love and Trust.” “Alive,” and “Porch.”

Ever mindful of where he was performing, Vedder encouraged the crowd to chant, “Hello Tom. Come out, Tom” several times for rock legend Tom Petty, who performed at the venue the next night. While Petty didn’t make an appearance he was there in spirit when Vedder dedicated “Won’t Back Down,” to Bush-protestor Cindy Sheehan.

Although Pearl Jam has reportedly practiced and recorded new songs, no new material was performed. That didn’t mean there weren’t surprises in the 36-song set. The band played “Crown of Thorns,” “Sad” and “Undone,” a song Vedder said had never been performed live.

Other staples like “Daughter,” “Dissident,” “MFC,” “Corduroy” and “Black” rounded out the set. Vedder also announced part of the concert’s profits would go to hurricane relief in New Orleans.

The exhilarating 3 hour and 30 minute performance, which was a warm-up show for Pearl Jam’s Canadian tour, is available for download via the group’s Web site for $9.99 as a part of Pearl Jam’s new digital bootleg program.

If the fervor and intensity of Thursday’s show is any indication, Canadians won’t know what hit them. Even Tom Petty would have a difficult time besting a vintage bottle of 1992 Pearl Jam.

Pearl Jam Setlist The Gorge Amphitheatre, George, WA, USA 2005

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Travis Hay

About Travis Hay

Travis Hay is a professional music journalist who has spent the past 14 years documenting and enjoying Seattle's diverse music scene. In 2009 he established Guerrilla Candy and is currently the site's editor and publisher. He has written for various media outlets including MSN Music, the Seattle-Post Intelligencer, Seattle Weekly, Crosscut.com and others and was the founder and editor of defunct music site Ear Candy.