The Pearl Jam Experience at the Amalie Oil Can

By on April 16, 2016
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Eddie Vedder (Photo-Travis Failey)

There are many bands that have changed the musical landscape and Monday night in Tampa, one of them would play the Amalie Arena. Pearl Jam packed the “Oil Can” like I’ve never seen before. Over 28,000 people were in attendance which ranged from kids to adults to groupies and Pearl Jam virgins.  I was one of the latter and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Yes, I owned their debut release 10, but I think most music fans of the last couple generations has at some point. 10 is considered one of the best first album releases of all time in league with Zeppelin 1 and Van Halen 1. Some may disagree, but 10‘s legacy lives on through the its songs, and the fans still love to hear them, especially in a live setting.

Before the show started, people were tailgating throughout downtown Tampa and the neighborhood bars were packed wall-to-wall with people reminiscing about past Pearl Jam shows. The conversations were similar to the ones that are heard at a Jimmy Buffett or Grateful Dead concerts, and so were the various aromas inside and out of the stadium.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

I spoke to a couple of fans at the rail near the stage who stated that they had been to 200 Pearl Jam shows and that they were looking forward to 201. They were not an anomaly and I couldn’t believe the numbers that  people were throwing out.  Exaggerations? Probably, but their commitment to their favorite band went without saying and the pre-show anticipation was palpable.

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Matt Cameron (Photo-Travis Failey)

The fans would not be disappointed from the start as Eddie Vedder and the guys walked onto a fully lit stage and said “hello” with Vedder sporting what looked to be a wine bottle.  Drummer Matt Cameron kicked the driving tom beats that open “Why Go” and the Pearl Jam experience was underway.

For the next 3 plus hours, Pearl Jam performed 32 songs broken up into 1 full set and two encores which were really mini sets or full sets for some classic bands these days.  The first set was highlighted with familiar hits, “Animal”, “Evenflow”, and “Jeremy” which received the biggest crowd response.  Bassist Jeff Ament stood out on “Daughter” while sitting down playing a symphony type bass guitar while guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard traded off leads throughout the night. Eddie Vedder is the face of the band, but these three are the heart and soul of Pearl Jam with Ament and Gossard being together since the days of Mother Love Bone.

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Mike McCready & Jeff Ament (Photo-Travis Failey)

The on stage ambience was electric, yet intimate, as Pearl Jam positioned globe-like light fixtures around the stage, which was setup “in the round.” Eddie Vedder was a storyteller prior to many of the songs but knew when to pull back on the dialogue and just play.  One of the highlights from the first encore was between the songs “ Come Back “ and “Lighting Bolt”, Vedder listed a number of sports franchises like the Red Wings, Black Hawks, Bruins etc but “we’ve never named an album after them.  Cue the special effect!”  At that moment the Tesla Coil in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s arena started arcing.

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Eddie Vedder (Photo-Travis Failey)

Pearl Jam closed out the night with another extended encore that was filled with surprises and special moments. These included a salute to our military and the local Wounded Warriors organization, a Gibson guitar smashing by Vedder during “Betterman” and the two closing numbers in the Who’s Baba “O Reilly and Hendrix’s “Little Wing.”

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

My first Pearl Jam show was a memorable one and it only increased the amount of respect I have for them as a band. It felt like they were playing in your living room and that’s special.

If you’re a fan or not, check out Pearl Jam.  Because when we look back, they will be included in the conversations regarding the great bands of our time….maybe all time.

For more information and tour dates: http://pearljam.com/

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Jeff Ament (Photo-Travis Failey)

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Mike McCready (Photo-Travis Failey)

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Eddie Vedder (Photo-Travis Failey)

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

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Eddie Vedder (Photo-Travis Failey)

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

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