Having seen Radiohead earlier this year, and with My Morning Jacket coming up in September and MC Hammer in done 1990 only Pearl Jam and Wilco remained as the pillars of my music taste yet to be seen live. Now, after one memorable night in Dublin, Wilco stand alone.
This could have gone either way, as I have been into this band since I was a kid and although I love the new album it rarely gets played when a Pearl Jam mood grips me - often losing out to such classics as Vitalogy or No Code. I was quite surprised to find myself at the front of a seething mass of frenzied fans as I thought it was just me, CSF and a few other Chimp affiliates that still followed this band. Apparently not. Even though the Dire Straits sounding Inside Job is far from being my favourite track on the new album I was very grateful to hear its slow steady build up as the opening track. Had a more anthemic opener been chosen I fear my rib cage would have collapsed under the pressure of 7000 foaming, sweaty fans. This calm intro didn't last long as the band began to race through a string of the best of the new stuff, with the mighty World Wide Suicide being a crowd favourite.
From then on the order of the day was 'hands-in-the-air-platoon-moment-classics,' and it was simply dazzling. Given To Fly had the fans in a blissful state of euphoria and the wonderfully extended version of Daughter was followed by the live favourite Better Man which saw Vedder's voice being drowned out by the swell of a 7000 strong sing along which couldn't help to send shivers down the spine. As if this wasn't enough the first act was brought to a climactic finish with the phenomenal Rear View Mirror, Pearl Jam's finest moment in my opinion. It's a pretty epic song at the best of times, the bands Bohemian Rhapsody if you will, but tonight it was extended beyond my wildest dreams. It dipped and soared and seemed as if it would never end until finally it burst into a climactic crescendo with every light in the house being called upon.
Two encores later and just about every classic you could possibly wish for (including a cover of Dublin favourite The Boys Are Back In Town by Thin Lizzy) and I was truly exhausted. Every time I was fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of Eddie Vedder through sweaty bodies and other peoples wet hair plastered across my face he looked to be having a really good time. Lots of banter with the crowd made us feel that this was an important night for him and the band as well as us, and after a lengthy rendition of Neil Young's Fuckin' Up Vedder thanked the crowd for welcoming them back after six years and humbly departed the stage.
It was clear to see the bands unity after 15 years of playing together as they often huddled together and jammed furiously, as if alone in this great hall. In true Donnington Monsters of Rock style they all stepped aside during Even Flow for a five minute Matt Cameron drum solo which was simply ossum. My only criticism was the shear size of the venue. I gave up fighting for my life while straining to see anything along time ago and even though it beats sitting it's far from ideal. Apart from that it was everything I expected and much, much more.