Review: Eddie Vedder brings Pearl Jam favorites, impressive new songs to Tulsa concert
BY JAMES ROYAL World Staff Writer
Monday, November 19, 2012
11/19/12 at 3:53 PM
Correction: This story originally contained an incorrect song from Sunday's show. Eddie Vedder played "Setting Forth" instead of "No Ceiling." Also, a song was omitted from the set list. The story has been corrected.
Eddie Vedder made a name with his one-of-a-kind vocals as the lead singer of Pearl Jam, and his sometimes-rasping, sometimes-sweet voice was on full display Sunday night during a sometimes intimate, sometimes rowdy concert at the Brady Theater.
Touring in support of his solo album, Ukelele Songs, Vedder’s set on the first night of his two-show Tulsa stop showcased his talents, both vocally and instrumentally, with raw, powerful songs like “Lukin” and “Porch” offset by more subtle, tender ballads like “Just Breathe” and “Without You.”
Vedder wove through his set list in groups of songs, alternating between Pearl Jam favorites and his solo work and mixing in an impressive array of covers in his encore performance.
The crowd was rowdy at points, shouting out requests and other comments. Vedder often ignored the shouts but sometimes replied with humor. During one early exchange, a man made an indecipherable braying sound, to which Vedder replied, "Are you allowed to bring diseased emus into the theater?"
Vedder opened with a Pearl Jam favorite, "Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town," which had the crowd on its feet and singing along for the first of many times of the night. He followed with three songs from “Ukelele Songs.” With the first, the driving "Can't Keep," Vedder showed that the usually mellow instrument has a more forceful side, before he moved on to the softer "Sleeping By Myself" and "Without You."
After the three ukelele songs, Vedder, playing in Tulsa for the first time, showed he had taken some time to familiarize himself some with the city.
“I learned something impressive about your town,” he said. “The majority of business owners are under 40. That's impressive.”
He went on to talk about the meaning of the anti-materialism Pearl Jam song "Soon Forget,” which kicked off a set of mostly acoustic versions of Pearl Jam songs, including “Around the Bend,” “Drifting,” “Wishlist” and a mellowed version of fan-favorite “Better Man.” Vedder had to restart “Better Man” at one point when he forgot the lyrics, quipping, “This is a new song and I’ve never played it before.”
After an impressive instrumental interlude, Vedder returned to his solo work, throwing himself into "Far Behind" from the "Into the Wild" soundtrack. The song brought out the gravel in his voice that fans have grown familiar with over the last two decades.
He followed with "Setting Forth" and "Guaranteed" from the movie as a smoking campfire and starlight backdrop on the stage set the mood. He switched to mandolin for the song "Rise," again showing his humorous side by strumming a bit of the heavy, uptempo "Lukin" and Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" before the song in response to an audience member shouting out a request for the former.
Opening act Glen Hansard then joined him for "Long Nights," which showcased Vedder's baritone beautifully.
An acoustic version of "Lukin" drew the crowd deeper into Vedder's grasp before he brought them to their feet with a stirring version of "Porch" that had the crowd singing along with his trademark growl, which still sounded raw and emotional after two decades with the song.
During his encore performance, Vedder took time to salute a pair of Oklahoma music icons. He performed Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is My Land” with Hansard, who Vedder said had reminded him that 2012 was the centennial of Guthrie’s birth. He later dedicated the Byrds’ “So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star” to Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips.
Other highlights of the encore included Hansard and Vedder dueting on Hansard’s Academy Award-winning song “Falling Slowly,” Vedder’s cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” with the crowd singing the chorus at the end, and “Loud Uke,” a song Vedder wrote to showcase an electric ukulele that he owns that dates back to 1952. The electric ukulele sounded virtually indistinguishable from an electric guitar, and Vedder tore into it like he would one of its larger cousins.
At one point, Vedder and Hansard stepped out from behind their microphones for “Sleepless Nights” from “Ukelele Songs.” Their voices rang through the Brady Theater auditorium, and after the song Vedder remarked that the microphone-less, acoustic performance was what the room had been intended for when it was built in 1914. It came across charmingly like two guys singing in front of their friends in a living room, not a multi-platinum artist and an Oscar winner in front of an audience of more than 2,000.
Hansard opened the night to an enthusiastic crowd. He kicked things off with "Say It To Me Now," singing without the microphone. The crowd was mostly appreciative of Hansard’s eight-song set, though there were some rough spots. The audience booed one woman who chanted for Vedder early on, and in the middle of “This Gift,” Hansard told the crowd, “If you want to talk, just go outside and get a beer, but please have a bit of respect for the people playing music.”
Vedder, who will play the Brady again Monday night, took the audience on a whirlwind ride Sunday and showed why he is one of the few enduring musical figures of the 1990s.
Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
Sleeping By Myself
Around The Bend
Fourth Of July
Can’t Help Falling In Love
This Land Is Your Land
I Won’t Back Down
So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star
Original Print Headline: Vedder brings favorites, new songs to Tulsa concert
James Royal 918-581-8394
Eddie Vedder performs Sunday at the Brady Theater in Tulsa. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World