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Live Review: Pearl Jam – 9th July 2022 – BST Hyde Park, London, UK

6 min read
Grunge-rock icons @PearlJam deliver stellar second day of classics at this years incredible @BSTHydePark on Saturday @outsideorg

“We’ve got 12 albums and 25 years but only an hour so let’s get on with it”, declared Stereophonic’s legendary front-man, Kelly Jones, setting the evenings tone as they made their way to the Great Oak Stage of Hyde Parks annual BST Hyde Park festivities – a testament to the long list of hits from the Welsh outfit and an encouraging introduction for another day of incredible acts and music.  

Over the last two weeks the park has seen some of the most successful acts in international, and local musical talents. From the likes of homegrown superstars like Elton John, Rolling Stones and Adele, through to American royalty, the Eagles and Pearl Jam as well as a plethora of influential supporting superstars, this year’s BST Hyde Park festival has been incredible. I think I will go as far as to say it’s been the best lineup since its inception a few years back – and the weather was also on our side as the bands played underneath the sunshine and each commenting on the gorgeous sunsets that helped paint a stunning picture to their mammoth repertoires.   

This weekend saw us back at Hyde Park for a meaty slice of rock! Most shows we attend at Renowned For Sound – at least those I personally attend, sway more on the side of sparkly pop than they do dad rock but every now and then an injection of full throttle rock music really gives us balance as live music aficionado’s and having seen U.S fathers of grunge-rock, Pearl Jam perform in the past, we are dead-keen to catch the bands return to the UK as they played two headlining shows for BST Hyde Park this year with primary support from Stereophonics; one of the finest UK acts of the past few decades.  

We’ve seen Stereophonics a few times over the last few years so when they were announced as the key support act for Pearl Jam’s BST Hyde Park Saturday show we were very excited, and so were they as Kelly announced “I’m a massive fucking Pearl Jam fan” before describing the first time he saw the band perform in 1993 at Finsbury Park and regarding them as one of their biggest influencers before offering the 65,000 strong crowd a weighty set of career hits and newbies like Hanging On Your Hinges and Do Ya Feel My Love from the outfits latest Oochya! release. It was the bands biggest hits however that got the crowd really worked up – notables from the bands 25+ years like The Bartender and the Thief, a semi-acoustic offering of Maybe Tomorrow and Have A Nice Day carved a greatest hits style set from the band and helped move the days musical offerings into 90’s nostalgia.  

A Thousand Trees, the bands very first single, found a center spot in the set and while a pair of the bands most successful singles – Handbags & Gladrags and Traffic – didn’t manage the make the cut for this weekend’s show, a stellar closing performance of Dakota made up for the omissions and had the crowd begging for more from the pint-sized Jones and his band.  

Stereophonic’s set:  C’est la vie / I Wanna Get Lost With You / The Bartender and the Thief / Hanging On Your Hinges / Do Ya Feel My Love / Maybe Tomorrow / A Thousand Trees / Have a Nice Day / Catacomb / Pick a Part That’s New / Mr and Mrs Smith / Fly Like An Eagle / Sunny / Just Looking / Dakota 

With an hour or so break between sets we managed to make our way around the park one last time to take in the festival atmosphere. And it’s an atmosphere that can only really be experienced at an event like a music festival. The vibe was one of the friendliest of all outdoor festivals that we have been to over the last twenty or so years that I have been attending festivals and big outdoor musical shows. Everyone was in high spirits as they caught up with their mates for pints on the grass, enjoyed some of the incredible food stalls that bordered the entire park space or just stood around in the sunshine waiting for their preferred act to emerge onstage.  

As the huge crowds began to return from their food stops or toilet breaks, the crowd began to tighten as 8pm grew closer. At a little shy of 8pm a bellowing recording of The Beatles’ All You Need Is Love began to play and soon after front-man Eddie Vedder and his iconic band made their way to the stage, singing back the hit with the crowd before erupting into opening number, Corduroy.  

Dressed comfortably in jeans and blue plaid shirt, Vedder looked every bit the part of a true grunge-rock icon and the father of his genre. “One song and I feel like I’ve missed you already. I hope this night goes real slow”, Vedder told the crowd, reminding us of the friendly and humble nature of this musical legend; one that could perhaps give Dave Grohl a run for his money in the ‘most likeable rock star’ category before diving into a setlist bursting at the seams with favoured pennings from the bands 32+ years as one of music’s most successful acts. 

The set spanned the entirety of Pearl James incredible career – from 1991’s debut Ten through set inclusions like Garden and Porch, a Vitology vote-off between Whipping and Not For You, with the crowd opting to hear the latter from the act, and through to a nod to 2020’s studio release, Gigaton with Dance of the Clairvoyants and a touching tribute of River Cross to the citizens of Ukraine finding a comfortable nesting place in the set.  

As a renowned political collective, Pearl Jam have always been at the forefront of injustices in the world and made a point of shinning a light on global affairs. After a story of his wife and daughter attending a Pride parade in the U.S recently and being subject to a false alarm attack, Vedder delivered an emotional and powerful speech on gun violence in the U.S and the need for change. While the subject matter of gun violence may not resonate with us here in the UK, having very few gun-related deaths on these shores, the sentiment was heard and a rapturous applause of agreement swept over Hyde Park. Following the speech the band welcome back support act Johhny Marr on stage to help perform a cover of Neil Young’s Throw Your Hatred Down. 

Pointing off into the distance for everyone to take in the beautiful sun setting over the park, the encore revealed the bands biggest commercial hit – Alive. Performing the track with just the same amount of power and precision as the original recording, the crowd helped put the iconic number along with a strong backing vocal as Vedder delivered his best vocals of the night; lapping up the enormous crowds adoration; many fans at this point sitting atop their friends shoulders and donning various 90’s rock band inspired t-shirts – once again adding to the 90’s nostalgic feel of the show.

This was another performance that showcased a truly iconic powerhouse in music still in peak form and will plenty of gas left in their tank. One of the worlds most loved rock bands playing two nights of timeless hits for over 130,000 British fans under the beaming sunshine or a UK summer – you really couldn’t ask for anything more than that!  

Pearl Jam set:

Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
Why Go
Throw Your Hatred Down (Neil Young cover)
Do the Evolution
Dance of the Clairvoyants
Not for You
State of Love and Trust
Eruption (Van Halen cover)

River Cross
Yellow Ledbetter
Baba O’Riley (The Who cover)

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