Eddie Vedder & Ronnie Wood @ Shepherds Bush Empire
Originally uploaded by ultrahi.
A few weeks ago Pearl Jam announced an intimate, pre O2 Arena gig at the 2000 capacity Shepherds Bush Empire. Given that they sold out the O2 in 11 minutes it was always going to be a long shot that we’d manage to get any tickets to SBE. Guess what? We didn’t. Real hardcore fans (ie, not me) started to ‘line up’ electronically at TicketWeb at 4am, before the 9am actual sale started – so my attempt at 8.45am was too little, too late.
Or at least we hadn’t gotten tickets, until about 3pm today, when the wonderfully, Twitter-tastic @o2sbe mentioned that TicketWeb had a few last minute tickets on sale… This was a tweet I almost missed, but thankfully didn’t, so a few seconds later I was on Ticketweb trying to buy tickets to no avail. It looked like it had already sold out. Poot.
Except they hadn’t sold out. In fact the Tweet had been a bit too early. As a few minutes later I tried again and voila! Ticket were on sale! Not only that, but stalls tickets were on sale. So after a fevered few minutes and 90 quid burnt on my credit card (again) we were in possession of two stalls tickets to one of the hottest gigs this year. My evening plans had suddenly changed and here was I wearing a business shirt instead of something suitably alt-rock-esque.
A few hours later, tickets in hand, touts avoided along with the pleading gaze of many people holding home made ‘tickets needed’, we entered the packed Shepherds Bush Empire. Drinks purchased we found ourselves a comfortable spot near our usual bar alongside a very short Matthew Horne (of Gavin and Stacey fame) before some loud mouthed Scottish banter sent him scurrying up to the celeb balcony to continue playing with his phone. Everyone was in high spirits, both drunken and in terms of their height as this had to be the tallest crowd we’d ever seen at the Empire. Then, around 8.45, the magic began as Pearl Jam came on stage and everyone went a little bit crazy. Because it was Pearl Jam. And because Pearl Jam still know how to rock. Oh yes, they do.
I can’t remember the exact set list from their fan friendly set of mostly hits, with a few new tracks and covers thrown in. They covered ‘All Along the Watch Tower’ – and to make sure it was extra special they brought out Ronnie Wood to play along with them. Yes, Ronnie f*cking Wood. Celebrity excess aside the crowd got to bounce and sing along like crazy folk to Even Flow, Alive, Better Man, Dissident and Jeremy amongst others that escape me now. They even found time to thank Obama for winning the presidency and not forcing them to pretend to be Canadian. Eddie has a lovely line in crowd banter, bless. Two encores later and we all had to go home. Ears ringing from guitar splendour. Legs aching from most frenzies. And most importantly, faces plastered with the biggest grins ever.
Thank you Pearl Jam (and @o2sbe) for making what was supposed to be a boring night in one of the best nights this year. I thought Blur was going to be the uncontested highlight of this year, but you guys gave them a good run for their money! Now if only Kurt Cobain was still alive I could try and complete my University musical taste triumvirate…