The final weekend of British Summer Time at Hyde Park saw Pearl Jam make a triumphant return to the UK across two headlining sets that saw the final night repeat just two songs from the previous evenings show. This willingness to perform such a wide variety of their catalogue is just one of the reasons fans are inspired to travel far and wide and take in multiple shows across each tour to catch the Seattle legends.Welcomed on stage to a chorus of ‘All you Need is Love’ the atmosphere throughout was one of joyous celebration and togetherness. Eddie Vedder acknowledged how their audience always looks out for each other, at one point pausing the show so someone in the crowd could receive medical attention, and more than thirty years into the career Pearl Jam appear genuinely humbled to still be playing to such a devoted following.
Fans of the first two albums were well rewarded as half of the set was made up of songs from 1991’s classic debut Ten and its 1993 follow-up Vs. Highlights were many but a vicious ‘Animal’ was delivered with venom and the stirring ‘Garden’ was followed by an emotional and impassioned speech by Eddie about gun deaths in the USA. This was immediately followed by a cover of Neil Young’s ‘Throw Your Hatred Down’, Johnny Marr joining Mike McCready and Stone Gossard for some inspired and incendiary soloing. McCready also took the spotlight for a jaw-dropping tribute to Eddie Van Halen when he launched into ‘Eruption’ that segued into ‘Black’, another much loved anthem from Ten that managed to raise the bar even higher.
‘Porch’ was dedicated to the family of Taylor Hawkins and the mournful ballad ‘River Cross’ (with Eddie on pump organ) to the people of Ukraine, the latter one of just two songs from 2020’s Gigaton. ‘Alive’ was the cue for Hyde Park to come together into one mass sing-a-long before they ended on a rousing ‘Baba O’Riley’. Over the course of three decades Pearl Jam have played fewer than forty concerts in the UK and it should come as no surprise they can headline two nights at Hyde Park, a feat only matched this summer by the Stones and Adele. The crowd were indeed fantastic throughout, although in truth they were mirroring the magic coming from the stage as Pearl Jam showed why they are still one of the best live bands around.
Much earlier in the day New York’s The Last Internationale had opened the Great Oak stage with their fired up soulful rockers going over incredibly well with those who had made the effort to get into Hyde Park early. Delilah Paz was a bundle of relentless energy, coming on stage to just an isolated vocal that showcased her incredible voice. No longer playing bass she used the freedom to cover every inch of the stage as they powered through ‘Soul on Fire’ and ‘Wanted Man’, before closing with ‘Hard Times’ and winning many new admirers along the way. Young blues guitarist Connor Selby kicked off the tiny Birdcage stage, in truth little more than a bandstand, and draw a small but appreciative crowd. It was easy to understand why he has been championed by Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend; rich vocals, fluid solos and polished songwriting combining to good effect. In complete contrast, on the same stage much later in the day were spiky punk quartet Petrol Girls who gave a politically-charged performance delivered with rage and angst, the rebel yell of ‘Touch Me Again’ and its refrain of touch me again and I’ll fucking kill you were spat out with venom by vocalist Ren Aldridge.
Now elevated to the status of guitar legend, Johnny Marr was all smiles as he asked the crowd if they had any requests. He showcased a couple of new tunes but it was clear what everyone was waiting for and Marr duly delivered as ‘Panic’, ‘This Charming Man’ and ‘How Soon Is Now’ teleported us back to the 1980’s. But although the songs may be familiar Marr cuts a very different figure than in his youth, looking very content and happy to be on stage playing the music that he wrote all those years ago.
“We’ve got twelve albums and only an hour so we’re going to get on with it” was Kelly Jones introduction as Hyde Park baked in the late afternoon sunshine. True to his word Stereophonics squeezed fifteen songs into their seventy minutes and played all the hits including ‘Bartender and the Thief’, ‘Maybe Tomorrow’, ‘Have a Nice Day’ and ‘Sunny’, a song that could not have been more appropriate as the temperature soared. Although you might have expected the Welsh band to have been headlining a festival like this, Jones stressed he was a huge Pearl Jam fan having seen them at Finsbury Park in the early 90’s. Their perfectly paced set closed out with the uplifting ‘Dakota’ and they were rewarded with a terrific reception.
Pearl Jam Set List:-
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
Throw Your Hatred Down
Do the Evolution
Dance of the Clairvoyants
Not for You
State of Love and Trust