Ezy Reading: The Cud Concert Review: Pearl Jam & The Rolling Stones

Evan Kanarakis

In what was a rare treat for those lucky enough to secure a ticket, two of the most influential rock acts of their respective eras 'Pearl Jam and the Rolling Stones- recently took to stage as a part of the Stone's latest 'Bigger Bang' stadium tour. The venue on this perfect, summer's-last-gasp evening was what is perhaps one of the most beautiful ballparks in America, the Pittsburgh Pirate's PNC Park, which offered a breathtaking backdrop view of the downtown Pittsburgh skyline just across the Allegheny River.

With the day's light in a slow retreat, Pearl Jam began their set just on 7pm with a lightning bolt -the punk explosion 'Go'- and after Eddie Vedder downed a swig from his wine bottle and announced 'I guess it's our job to get you guys in the mood', the band did just that. An exceptional 'supporting' act to say the least, Pearl Jam performed many of their most famous songs from an extensive catalogue of hits that catered to a 40,000 person sold-out crowd of primarily Rolling Stones devotees, but kept their own fans happy as well.

But if the majority in the audience had arrived to see the Stones, few weren't converted and on their feet by the end of the sixty-minute-long Pearl Jam highlight reel. Notable moments included Mike McCready playing an extended guitar solo behind his head during 'Even Flow', and Vedder's trademark intensity and high energy pouring into such tunes as 'Black', 'Alive' and an exceptionally awesome rendition of John Lennon's 'Gimme' Some Truth'.

Now under the cover of darkness, Pearl Jam closed out their evening with another cover, this time Neil Young's 'Rockin' in the Free World', accented by a Stone Gossard solo of some three to four minutes of guitar crunching magic while his band mates took advantage of the massive Rolling Stones' tour set-up to run from ramp to ramp thanking the fans for their cheers and subsequent standing ovation. Indeed as many in the crowd soon agreed, there were likely few bands in the world that could possibly follow such a spirited, exciting set, but with just one such act on hand, on this night it was possible...

After an hour's break the Rolling Stones emerged on their gargantuan stage in a blur of fireworks, spectacular five-storey high video wall presentations, flames shooting skyward, and the unmistakable 'Start Me Up'. We're reminded time and time again about how old these guys are and how long they've been at it, but the fact is, even with the aid of a multimillion dollar production on hand (which at one point featured a giant inflated tongue), the band certainly still have what it takes to pull off an amazing rock and roll show.

Dressed in a glistening gold jacket, Mick Jagger worked his trademark strut through a string of old favourites like 'She's So Cold', and 'Tumbling Dice', and into music from their new release, 'A Bigger Bang', and the single 'Rough Justice'. The crowd went especially crazy when Eddie Vedder was invited for a return to join Jagger on 'Wild Horses', and were again appreciative when the moving stage rolled out to the centre of the stadium for a series of songs that brought many a closer look than they'd previously been enjoying.

Attending a Rolling Stones show, especially if it's a new experience is somewhat surreal, however. It's quite bizarre looking onto the stage and seeing such iconic figures -Mick, Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts- all up there and performing tunes you've heard a thousand times over ''Paint It Black', 'Sympathy for the Devil' and 'Jumping Jack Flash'- and perform them not only note perfect, but with a level of enthusiasm that belies the many years they've already spent in the game. It's truly fantastic.

After more fireworks, more flames, and more great Rolling Stones 'licks' that had the crowd singing along with them, the band wrapped the night up with an encore that featured 'Brown Sugar'.

Judging by the mix of young and old staggering out of PNC Park just after 11pm and onto the Roberto Clemente Bridge with wide, satisfied smiles on their faces, on this evening Pearl Jam and the Rolling Stones had surpassed all music lover's rock and roll expectations.

The Pearl Jam set list:
Onstage 7pm-

Even Flow
Gimme' Some Truth
Given to Fly
Better Man
Last Kiss
Save You
Rockin' in the Free World

The Rolling Stones set list:
Onstage 9:05pm

Start Me Up
You Got Me Rocking
She's So Cold
Tumbling Dice
Rough Justice
Wild Horses (with Eddie Vedder)
You Can't Always Get What You Want
Rocks Off
Night Time Is The Right Time
The Worst (Keith Richards vocals)
Infamy (Keith Richards vocals)
Miss You
Oh No Not You Again
Get Off Of My Cloud
Honky Tonk Women
Sympathy For The Devil
Paint it Black
It's Only Rock N' Roll
Jumping Jack Flash
Brown Sugar (encore)

Ezy Reading is out every Monday.