Last Night: Eddie Vedder at Jones Hall
Aging grungers are the new aging hippies. When the first wave of grunge hit in the late '80s and early '90s, the world was still rife with greybeards and their old ladies just two decades removed from cultural nirvana. Before the other, bigger Nirvana.
I remember being a tiny person in the midst of the Seattle explosion while also being exposed to the nostalgia of the free-love era. Never would I have thought that the two would have so much in common.
"You know what they say about the early '90s, man. If you remember them, you didn't have a debilitating drug addiction or an allergy to fame."
Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder is one of the rare survivors of the grunge era who is still standing and can still tell a tale without tremors. Yes, the g-word is less of a slur than it was 20 years ago, and thankfully Pearl Jam managed to rise above the trends and tread their own path, thanks to their own stubbornness, a punk ethos and the leading hand of Neil Young.
A lot of Monday night's gig (the second one is tonight) reminded me of Young's solo show at the same venue in 2010 on the tour behind Le Noise, from the sparse instrumentation to the set design.
Vedder as a solo act, a storyteller, and a guitarist doesn't touch the level of elation that fans say they feel at a PJ show. Nothing comes close. But not that many Houston PJ fans would know what it is like to see them here on their own turf anyway.
The singer himself joked about his infrequent visits to Houston while dropping wistful odes to the Vatican and the Unicorn, departed venues that the band played numerous times on the way to becoming all-caps Pearl Jam.
Pearl Jam is now a festival band, leaving behind the road-slogging to younger groups and acts out of their own grunge class that didn't quite make the same global or monetary connection they did.
Vedder's solo schtick (high-five, Mrs. Ambrose!) is heavy on his Into The Wild soundtrack stuff and various PJ nuggets. If you find the ukelele annoying or too precious, you will not be enchanted with the novelty of Vedder doing half his set cradling the baby gee-tar.
Hardcore fans, though, will be rewarded by being in the presence of one of their icons. The man seems to understand that his target audience isn't "the kids" anymore, but thirty- and early fortysomethings he's helped usher through the past 20 years. He even made a remark about the monied crowd, knowing his ticket price isn't exactly small.