November 15, 2012
Music Hall at Fair Park
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Eric Kusin
Photos by James Villa
Eddie Vedder is a Rock Star
It's that simple.
He's an icon for a generation and Dallas' cross-section of that generation came out in full-force to welcome him after a ten-year absence. Vedder was last in North Texas with Pearl Jam in 2003 at what was then known as the Smirnoff Music Center. You got the feeling that most of this crowd was at that particular amphitheater show and perhaps even further back in time when the band performed at Trees or the Bronco Bowl, both venues Vedder mentioned later in the night.
The crowd missed Eddie - and Eddie convinced the crowd he missed them too.
From the start of the show, the audience's anticipation was palpable. Glen Hansard's 40-minute opening set was met with a reception usually reserved for the main act. With the majority of the 3,420 seats already full, Hansard gave his appreciation by absolutely punishing his guitar with ferocious velocity. The Irishman, who has found renewed fame (a remake of his indie film Once is Broadway's new darling), seemed at home filling the 87 year-old theater with his acoustic set.
The crowd was there to see Vedder however, and he did not disappoint. From his first song - a cover of Daniel Johnston's "Walking the Cow" - it was apparent this wasn't going to be nything resembling a Pearl Jam concert, or a rehash of Vedder's Ukelele Song's. This was going to be an evening of music that meant something to the artist.
When reading the program, there was a list of at least a dozen of Eddie's Tools (the guitars he used). I'm not sure people understood he was going to use all of them this evening. Every few songs, Vedder would switch instruments for a slightly different sound. An exchange to the aforementioned ukulele during "Can't Keep" was perhaps the most entertaining. He continued to tell quick, emotional stories with the Hawaiian instrument, peaking on "Without You".
Vedder then went to his first Neil Young cover of the night, "The Needle and the Damage Done". He dedicated the song to the late Andy Wood, lead singer of Mother Love Bone.
Vedder's stories were not-surprisingly, entertaining. Early on, the musician informed the crowd he knew what he was doing and didn't need help with song requests. Half way through his two and a half hour set, however fan with a sign caught his attention.The request was for a Ramone's song, "I Believe in Miracles". Eddie obliged, but only after sharing memories of a bonding experience with Johnny Ramone over baseball. "Johnny had an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball and horror films" he told the crowd. He then shared the story of being with the musician the morning of his death. "Love the moments you have" he said. It was an emotional moment for Vedder the crowd deeply felt.
One of the lighter moments of the evening was Vedder's impression of Willie Nelson's cover of "Just Breathe". It was a fun, light-hearted moment, and hearing Eddie doing Willie doing Eddie will not be forgotten.
Dallasite Courtney Ateyeh did a very admirable job playing the Bernadette Peters to Eddie's Steve Martin during "Tonight, You Belong to Me". Coming in cold for one song with Eddie Vedder can't be easy, but Ateyah's confident chemistry with the musician worked well.
Eddie ended the first encore with his second Young cover, "Rocking in the Free World" - and the crowd rocked with him.
After thirty-two songs, and multiple standing ovations begging him to stay, it was time for Vedder to head down south for another Lone Star date in San Antonio. Ten years was too long of an absence for this amazing performer, but after this night's performance, all is forgiven.