As the lights went down from Arcade Fire’s performance on the Orange stage, there was barely a second for the crowd to collect themselves before Pearl Jam’s epic two and a quarter hour set kicked off right next door.
The Metricon Stadium was pitch black, lit only by the scores of pulsating lights that surrounded Eddie Vedder and the rest of the band, who started their set with ‘Do the Evolution’ before moving on to ‘Animal.’
While Pearl Jam’s show was nothing but pure rock from start to finish, every so often Vedder took some time out to chat to the crowd, dedicate songs and share anecdotes from his Big Day Out tour experience so far. And the personal nature of the dedications (namely the nod to Lisa the customs officer that greeted the band on arrival into the Gold Coast) had Vedder coming across as both an incredible rock legend, and a humble and completely down-to-earth guy at the same time.
“I’d like to make a toast to whoever invented the lightbulb. Whoever invented the electric guitar, whoever invented religion,” Vedder yelled into the audience, later also dedicating a track to “you big wave surfers out there, which in this part of the world is most of you!”
Later on in the set, Vedder gave props to two very special guests who happened to be enjoying the show from side of stage, pro surfers Mick Fanning and Mark ‘Occy’ Occhilupo - who he invited onto the stage to take a swig from his bottle of red. Cue huge eruption of cheers from the audience and two very nervous looking sportsmen.
After outing Occy as a “sensitive man,” the band went on to play the surfing legend’s favourite track - ‘Better Man’ - which by far drew the most enthusiasm from the amped up audience of all the many hits of the night.
Other chart-toppers from the set included ‘Daughter’ and ‘Jeremy,’ which came in the second hour of the show, while the beginning of the set was more for the diehard PJ fans in the crowd.
One such fan, whose name Eddie couldn’t recall, even got to throw in a request, after Vedder spotted his familiar face in the crowd.
“If you don’t know it, it’s his fault,” Vedder declared, pointing his finger at the superfan in the front row and jumping straight into his song of choice.
With just three tracks to go, Pearl Jam succeeded in building up the intensity for the big finale, as giant light bulbs swung down from the roof and guitarist Mike McCready stole the spotlight for an incredible solo, standing alone in the space between the blue and orange stages and just caning it.
As McCready wrapped up his riff, Vedder jumped onto one of the lightbulbs like a man possessed and proceeded to finish off the track swinging from the massive orb.
The second to last song of the evening, ‘Alive,’ was naturally another huge crowd pleaser and while many thought that it was the finale track, the band chose to conclude with a cover from one of the greatest rock legends of them all - Neil Young - and wrapped their set with ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ as the house lights went up.
- Lucy Slight