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Pearl Jam
Written By: Gary Crouthamel
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Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam
Susquehanna Bank Center
Camden, N.J. •  June 19, 2008

        Knowing that Pearl Jam was in town for a two-night stand, I thought I would leave early and avoid the major traffic jam that usually happens when you run late getting to this venue. Well, I should have known, being that it was a Pearl Jam show, that there would be long lines of traffic even four hours prior to the show starting. The parking lots filled up fast with fans who were tail-gate partying, and the familiar smell made me think  the Grateful Dead had been reincarnated. Fans lined up forever at both the will-call and VIP windows, especially the lawn seat ticket holders to try and get a front row at the rail to avoid anywhere else on the lawn where you can’t see crap. All this and nobody has even gotten inside the venue to enjoy one of Philly's famous $11 24oz cans of Miller Lite or a nice cold draft beer for $8 or the classic combo Philly cheesesteak and a draft for $18. Oh, or a nice cold bottle of water for $4 and they keep the cap.
        But I guess the hassles and prices seemed worth the effort for the crowd, which sang along throughout Pearl Jams 90 plus minute main set, which was followed by two lengthy encores.
        Pearl Jam, one of the few "big" bands that doesn’t need a reason to tour, was in town on their 6th show of a 13-date east coast tour. The band entered the stage under a cover of darkness. When the lights came up they revealed a cool Japanese-looking water/wave backdrop and the band with Eddie Vedder on lead vocals, Jeff Ament on bass guitar, Stone Gossard on rhythm guitar, Mike McCready on lead guitar and Matt Cameron on drums, launched into "Hard To Imagine", "Corduroy" and "Severed Hand". The band sounded alive and electric as they sweated out their songs in the humid heat. Just as the venue filled to capacity, they began rocking out to such favorites as "Do The Evolution", "All Night", "In Hiding", "Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town", "Gone", "Who Are You", "Unemployable", "Even Flow", "Light Years", "Grievance", "Given To Fly", "U", "Rats" and "Why Go" to get the crowd going and singing to every song. Another great thing about Pearl Jam is that they change their set list every show so you’re always going to hear a few of your favorites. Occasionally, in between songs, Eddie Vedder would take a break to state how much he and the band appreciate all the veterans and soldiers in Iraq who are fighting for our country. When Vedder said to the cheering fans that "this is our last f@*#*ing summer that George Bush is President, the crowd erupted into another frenzy of applause.
        After playing for about 90 minutes, Pearl Jam took a short break and returned for the first encore that included a cover of the Who's "Love Reign O'er Me", "Better Man", "State Of Love And Trust", "Black" and "Leash. Another highlight throughout the night was watching guitarist Mike McCready throw his guitar up over his shoulders and behind his head while just tearing up the solos.
        After another short break, the band came back for a second encore. With the house and stage lights fully on and bright, they kicked into "No More", "Crazy Mary", "Porch" and the night’s closer, "Yellow Ledbetter." Then the rest of the band stood quietly on stage watching Mike McCready tag a Jimi Hendrix inspired rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" to end the song. Not surprisingly for Pearl Jam, the show lasted amost three hours which is rare for any band that tours, but a definite bonus for the fans and a very reasonable ticket price as well. The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me"  was worth the price of admission by itself. Some bands are tailor-made to be seen live. Their shows take their music to another level that the studio recordings just cannot reach. When they do go out and tour again, go see them if you can. Once again, it’s another show that won’t let you down. I'm gald to have caught another great show this summer and I can’t wait to see the next one – stay tuned!
Gary Crouthamel, concert photo journalist
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