As one of the last gigs on my list of all-time favourite bands, having not seen these guys had always nagged at me. I had been too poor as a student, out of the country for one tour and then after the death of some fans at the Roskilde festival in 2000, Europe had been off rotation for the last couple of Pearl Jam world tours. I was resigned to eventually seeing the band at the enormo-arena-dome some time past their peak - and convincing myself that I wasn't disappointed.
Recently, things started to look up. A well invested fan club membership led to a great 7 inch single, but the golden ticket was a heads-up on this one-off warm up show at London's Astoria. Chimp Jnr managed to snag the tickets, which sold out in 1 minute and ended up going for £450 on eBay. It crossed our minds to cash them in and fly out to Seattle, but even there a 20,000 seat Arena could not offer the same opportunity as a 1600 seat venue on home turf.
The gig had a quick turnaround and before we knew it we were queuing down the side of the Astoria, round Soho Square and back onto Oxford Street. Some of the eBay tickets had apparently been confiscated, so some persistent fans did get a chance to get last minute surprise re-sale tickets on the door. The touts dropped their tickets to £250, while security guards checked the ticket numbers as some fakes had been circulated.
The atmosphere in the queue and inside the venue was electric. It obviously wasn't just us that had been holding out to see them, and when the band came out the place went crazy. A quick acknowledgment that it had been a long time set the scene, and then we're off with new single World Wide Suicide. As noted, this is a bad title, but as a song it was a great start - thundering, off new album Pearl Jam, but still one that the fans could get into. That was followed by Life Wasted and Severed Hand from the new album, which subdued the crowd slightly as they are still relatively unknown.... Two more new songs followed, but these were current b-side Unemployable and Christmas b-side Gone, which is already one of my current favourites. So things were picking up, and then they really took off with Even Flow.
From then on things only got better and better. The band pulled highlights and rarities from their 15 year back catalogue, such as Sad, I Am Mine, Leavin' Here and Given To Fly mixed in with a couple of the new tracks. There was a healthy dose of revived songs from black-sheep album Ten (which out sold Nevermind for you haters out there) including an awesome ramped up version of Why Go? The Indie Goth Revival is over, long live Grunge.
The highlight had to be an impromptu sing along to Betterman, where Eddie Vedder literally hardly sang a word. The entire crowd took over in a spine tingling moment, reminiscent of Black on the Benaroya Hall album. Visibly moved by the crowd response, the band came back for two encores until finally the end had come, as Mike McCready plucked the opening notes of traditional set-closer Yellow Ledbetter. Everyone sang along and the band even dropped in a few notes of Nobody's Fault But Mine as a nod to Robert Plant, who was in the crowd with his son. After a bow the band started to leave the stage, before the overwhelming reaction from the audience genuinely changed their minds. Eddie Vedder called them back for one more... a storming rendition of Alive. As one of their only UK hits, this is often how they are perceived by those who know little of their later work. It was an unashamedly 90's moment, and I realised that after 15 years of progressing onwards they are now looking as much like the grunger's of the early 90's as ever.... and I love it.
All in all it couldn't have been a much more satisfactory conclusion to my quest.... although thanks to a man on the inside we are off to see them taping Later with Jools Holland tonight.
25th Apr 2006 - Tumblr4.5
The Point, Dublin
Dry As A Bone / Rehab Doll
Just Like The Fambly Cat
Another touching Pixar tale from Pete Docter. Stylish and inspiring.
29th Dec 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Perfect Christmas movie that sails close to the wind of parody without getting swept away.
26th Dec 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Stirring, straight shooting, well rounded finale to a classic trilogy.
13th Dec 2020Read more 4.5 star reviews
Note perfect, brisk, entertainingly convoluted classic.
13th Dec 2020Read more 5 star reviews
Genre defining 80s classic that still hits all the right notes.
13th Dec 2020Read more 5 star reviews
Unsurprisingly slight, but the one thread of plot is held together by an enjoyable Bill Murray.
21st Nov 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Incredibly straightforward Clint drama, anchored by some great central performances.
10th Nov 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Not exactly imaginative re-imagining, but it gets the job done in the right spirit.
1st Nov 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Ambitious, stagey epic. Plenty of tropes and it falls in all the usual 1-take potholes.
27th Oct 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Thoughtful, stylish drama with a zen central performance.
17th Oct 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Stiff, poorly paced innovative film that hasn’t aged well.
11th Oct 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Inspiring, tightly scripted gem - overlooked by lockdown.
4th Oct 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Standard-issue airplane movie, with Joel Kinnaman standing in for Vin Diesel.
3rd Oct 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Sub LA Confidential gumshoe thriller - with an underplayed USP. Ed Norton misses again.
27th Sep 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Over explained threequel, that undermines a low key original.
18th Sep 2020Read more 2.5 star reviews
Intriguing, but generally incomprehensible sci-fi gobbledegook.
31st Aug 2020Read more 3 star reviews
The Next Level
Marginally less fun sequel, but still plenty of laughs.
16th Aug 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Beautifully imagined and lovingly restored, but it still alternates between a snail's pace and feeling like a trailer edit.
12th Aug 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Surprisingly enjoyable plane movie, though it owes a lot to the magnificent Copland.
8th Aug 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Tension-free Bateman rom com. Lacking rom and com.
8th Aug 2020Read more 2 star reviews
Incredibly stylish and wannabe cerebral sci-fi, that’s ultimately a little thin.
19th Jul 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Underwhelming space drama that’s a bit too intimate and not very epic.
5th Jul 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Dire, tension-free postcode gang drama. Just add drama.
21st Jun 2020Read more 1 star reviews
Magnificent documentary, re-assembling the moon landing from beautifully remastered footage.
14th Jun 2020Read more 4 star reviews
The 8th slow-paced Tarantino pic. Literally half entertaining / boring.
24th May 2020Read more 2.5 star reviews
Entertaining Brit-com, though it’s a bit on-the-beaten-path for Danny Boyle.
13th Apr 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Mildly enjoyable, thoroughly forgettable Nick Hornby pic ...once you get past the contrived set up.
4th Apr 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Kid-friendly(ish), super fun superhero movie.
23rd Mar 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Impeccably realised remake, but it’s emotionally flat.
15th Mar 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Standard festival thriller, with some style and decent moments - but it’s all a bit thin.
10th Mar 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Surprisingly enjoyable, Guy Ritchie-fied Disney remake.
10th Mar 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Cookie cutter biography that could literally have been written from his Wikipedia page.
7th Mar 2020Read more 1.5 star reviews
Text book indie, literally days out of Sundance. Interesting until it gets a bit too wacky.
9th Feb 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Strong slice of 90s skate nostalgia. Slow and subtle.
8th Feb 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Considered character study that strays into pretentiousness here and there.
25th Jan 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Enthusiasticly directed sequence of unrelated musical set pieces.
31st Dec 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Yet another biggest-battle-yet, with more than a passing nod to BTTF2.
30th Dec 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Thoughtfully assembled montage doc.
30th Dec 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Decent origin story, with charm and some 90s nostalgia.
27th Dec 2019Read more 3 star reviews
The Rise of Skywalker
Freestyle bouillabaisse with all the ingredients, but no chef.
27th Dec 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Quintessential indie movie ...funded by Netflix. Great perfs, lovely camera work and solid direction.
22nd Dec 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Superior modern thriller. Smart script and accomplished direction.
15th Dec 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Long, slow, thoroughly enjoyable loose jam through Scorsese/DeNiro/Pacino/Pesci/Keitel’s greatest hits.
2nd Dec 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Batman via Scorsese, in impeccably art directed, neatly packaged origin story.
28th Nov 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Surprisingly strong sequel that gets going after a convoluted start.
24th Nov 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Casual drama from Clint Eastwood, with the man himself anchoring things through a charming turn.
16th Nov 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Luscious period drama. Beautifully put together - like Wolf Hall+.
3rd Nov 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Throw away Breaking Bad expansion piece with little tension or jeopardy.
13th Oct 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews