Review: Pearl Jam Delivers an Electrifying Show for St. Louis Fans

More than three decades after its first show in town, the iconic Seattle group proved it's still got it

click to enlarge Pearl Jam on stage at the Enterprise Center September 18, 2022.
Pearl Jam on stage at the Enterprise Center September 18, 2022.

More than 31 years since they played their first show in St. Louis, iconic rock & roll band Pearl Jam returned to town for the first time post-COVID, playing a show that was as effortless-looking as it was energetic to a packed Enterprise Center.

The band has been touring for three decades, during which time its members have clearly honed their skills at working arena crowds and making the biggest venues in town feel close knit and compact.

During Sunday's two-plus-hour-long show, still-spry frontman Eddie Vedder windmilled his guitar, jump-kicked off his monitors, and singled out various members of the audience for their air drumming skills, their youth, and their being really high.

"Vedder and company have still got it," one concertgoer told the RFT after the show. "Not just vocally and acoustically, but athletically."

All show long, the 57-year-old Vedder danced around the four corners of the stage, with special attention paid to the area behind the drummer, facing the cheapest seats in the house.

In an egalitarian move, at one point the band even re-oriented themselves 180 degrees towards the back of the stage for "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town."

The show kicked off with members of the band seated, playing three more mid-tempo songs, with Vedder on harmonica and ukulele, a portion of the show that he referred to as "first gear."

But midway through the fourth tune of the night, a slow-building "Retrograde," the band put the pedal to the metal and didn't let up on the gas the rest of the show.

The pace only slowed down for Vedder's banter, which was on point. He expressed appreciation for St. Louis' musical history and teased — though sadly didn't actually tell — a story about Albert Pujols pinching his ear. He alluded to a Cardinals pitcher being in the audience, though Vedder, a Chicago native and well-known Cubs fan, said that he refused to say this pitcher's name.

When the band came back on stage for the encore, Vedder remarked to the crowd that Pearl Jam first played St. Louis sometime in December 1991. "We're all in agreement that, especially for a Sunday night, this is the best St. Louis crowd we’ve ever had," he said.

The final two songs, classics "Alive" and "Yellow Ledbetter" were played with house lights up, giving the show the feel of a very big house party rather than an arena rock show.

Pearl Jam's latest studio album Gigaton was released in March 2020 but the accompanying tour was delayed due to the pandemic.

Gigaton is an incredible hook-heavy rock record, and it’s a marvel that a band could produce such an album that is both in line with their previous work but also a reimagining of it. At Sunday's show, selections from the album filled the arena as well as any others. The poppy "Dance of the Clairvoyants" and "Who Ever Said," with a mini-shoutout to the Rolling Stones, were standout moments in particular.

But given that the "new" album is two years old, Vedder and Co. perhaps felt less beholden to it, performing tracks from eight of their 11 studio albums in total throughout the night. Their debut Ten was well represented, with "Once" segueing into "Even Flow," as on the 1991 album's opener.

Former Red Hot Chili Peppers member Josh Klinghoffer opened the show, playing an abbreviated set joined on stage by Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Jeff Ament. This year Klinghoffer joined Pearl Jam as a touring member of the band.

Setlist:
Of the Girl
Footsteps
Sleeping by Myself
Retrograde
Last Exit
Life Wasted
Dissident
Who Ever Said
I Am Mine
Corduroy
Glorified G
Once
Even Flow
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
Sad
Dance of the Clairvoyants
Go
State of Love and Trust
Breath
Black
Alive
Yellow Ledbetter

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or follow on Twitter at @RyanWKrull.

About The Author

Ryan Krull

Ryan Krull is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times. Find him on Twitter @ryanwkrull
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