SEATTLE — Nearly 47,000 people piled into Safeco Field on two consecutive nights last week to witness the homecoming of Seattle’s golden boys Pearl Jam. In the five years since Pearl Jam has played a show in its hometown, the alt-rock greats have traveled the world. Yet as frontman Eddie Vedder said after a heartfelt opening number at the Friday show, “Hello family, hello fans, hello visitors, hello Seattle.”
The sense of community and togetherness could be felt throughout the ballpark.
The epic 30-song, three-and-a-half hour set didn’t end until the early hours of Saturday, including fan favorites, mashups and covers. Pearl Jam seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the crowd was enjoying the music. The band was in high spirits the whole night. Vedder spent the majority of the show nursing a bottle of wine. During “Even Flow,” guitarist Mike McCreedy jumped down to the crowd guard rail and began his solo with his instrument around his neck and behind his head. Drummer Matt Cameron also had multiple chance to shine, with solo-upon-solo.
Vedder was in a storytelling mood. He recalled the first time his picture was published in Rolling Stone and a clerk at the local minimart asked if it was some sort of “biking magazine.” Vedder chuckled and called it his “first lesson in humility.” He also shared more heartfelt stories. Before Vedder performed a heartfelt, melancholy cover of Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down,” he said that the last time he spoke to Petty before his death was at Safeco Field in Seattle, during Petty’s show a few summers back. Vedder urged the crowd to turn on their phone flashlights and sing along so Petty could hear them and would know they everyone missed him.
Another thing that made the Aug. 8 and Aug. 10 homecoming shows so special: Pearl Jam pledged all the proceeds from both shows to help fight homelessness in Seattle. Even before the final tally had been confirmed, the band announced at the beginning of the show that over $11.5 million had already been raised for the cause.
Follow writer Piper Westrom at Twitter.com/plwestrom.