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Anticipation grew as the clock ticked closer to set time. You could feel the excitement leading up to his unveiling on stage as the crowd became louder. The dark red curtains rose up slowly into the rafters, and perched upon a stool in the middle of a dimly lit stage, sat the singer alone. Two soft glowing spotlights shone down on him at the timeless and classic Chicago Theater in downtown Chicago. The 1990’s grunge era icon Eddie Vedder himself took in what would be a love fest for him and his music.
Stationed around his stool was a variety of guitars, an old reel-to-reel tape player set up for background sounds, a foot drum and some other strategically placed items for a homely feel. It was an intimate setting that made you feel like you were sitting around a crackling campfire, taking in the acoustic sounds of a one-man jam session.
Dressed in a vintage t-shirt and his jeans looking well worn, Vedder began fingering his ukulele. His adoring fans hung on every note, and hooted and hollered as hit the high ones. Seeing this rock legend perform is what these people paid for. He performed his hits with a variety of instruments from his ukulele, a mandolin, and his plethora of guitars and he even rocked out on the harmonica. His spectacular baritone voice had everyone mesmerized.
As Vedder stated, he has matured over the years, and his sound has also softened. This tour is more about the music than the bright lights and big arenas he is used to playing with his original band, Pearl Jam. Several times during the performance he bantered with the crowd telling stories about past experiences and the vintage “shit hole” Chicago Theater he used to frequent as a “young shit head” before it was remodeled, and now looking priceless. A few times throughout the two plus hour set he brought out show opener Glen Hansard to lend his voice to a handful of songs. There was also a string section accompanying him on various tunes as they sat stage left.
Vedder worked through his own material as well as some Pearl Jam classics like “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” which received a standing ovation. He also gave homage to his hometown baseball team, the Chicago Cubs with a heartfelt rendition of “All The Way”. During his finale with “Hard Sun”, he broke the mold of the evening, stood up and rocked out with his vintage Vedder stroll.
You couldn’t have asked for a better setting to see this legendary performer work his craft on this “perfect Chicago summer evening”.
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Evan J. Thomas
Evan is a contributor for IAMNotJerry.com Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and InstGram.