Concert Review: Pearl Jam @ Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario, Canada (with full setlist)

Recently, Pearl Jam announced their upcoming tenth album, Lightning Bolt (out October 15th). Way before that though, months and months ago, the Leafs choked away game 7 the rock band from Seattle also announced a big-time gig in London, Ontario in July. Budweiser Gardens sold out instantly and the sheer amount of people trying to buy tickets basically crashed the arena’s website.

This isn’t surprising since Pearl Jam might just be THE BEST BAND IN THE WORLD (although I believe on PHM I’m legally only allowed to refer to Radiohead as the best ever).

Pearl Jam @ Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario, Canada - Copyright: PeteHatesMusic

Pearl Jam @ Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario, Canada – Copyright: PeteHatesMusic

It was billed as “An Evening With Pearl Jam” (oooh, classy!!). There would be no opening band, just a long set from PJ in all their illustrious rocking glory.

First off, it was ridiculously hot the day of the show with the temperature topping 40°C with the humidity. What a scorcher! You knew it was hot out when people waiting in line to get into the arena would smile and get all excited when they got even a faint touch of the air conditioning coming from inside the gate doors 20 ft away.

Walking to the venue I saw license plates from Manitoba, Maryland, New York, Narnia, Michigan and obviously Ontario. I even saw a plate with “IAMMINE” on it (that’s a Pearl Jam song, but you knew that already, didn’t you?) People were coming to town from all over to catch this highly-anticipated gig. How highly-anticipated? Scalpers were coming up to people before the show saying “I’ll pay double the face value for tickets”. Unreal.

The show was supposed to start at 7:30 but it wasn’t until just after 8 PM that Pearl Jam took the stage – who do they think they are, Guns N’ Roses?! By 7:30 only about half the arena was full, so I imagine the band waited a bit for people to get in their seats. Out came vocalist/guitarist Eddie Vedder, guitarist Mike McCready, guitarist Stone Gossard, bassist Jeff Ament, drummer Matt Cameron, and organist Boom (Boooooooom!) Gaspar to open the show with Present Tense (off 1996’s No Code album).

I must say, right from the get-go the crowd was absolutely 100% committed and into the show. The entire arena sang their asses off all throughout the 2.5 hr show. Sometimes I couldn’t even hear Eddie because of the crowd singing so loud. Songs like …Small Town, Better Man, Alive, Rockin’ In The Free World, and Indifference provided some of the loudest singalong moments.

Before playing I Got Id, Eddie told the crowd he remembered London from Pearl Jam’s 2005 show in the city, saying its street names were “burned into” his brain. He then told a hilarious story about trying to log onto a WiFi server in his hotel and finding a server for “Dundas Hookers on Crack” (the arena is on Dundas Street here in town). I Got Id was then dedicated to PeteHatesMusic “hookers on crack”.

Other London Pearl Jam highlights included: the band playing a bit of London Calling by The Clash before Corduroy, first ever live performance of the new single Mind Your Manners, Eddie turning back the clock swinging from the hanging green lights onstage during Porch, Eddie telling the crowd Budweiser makes shit beer but also nice buildings, the unison fist pump and “yeah!”s at the end of Alive, and Brain of J., dedicated to former NHLers Tie Domi and Chris Chelios (who were in house, and loudly cheered as Canadian law dictates) as well as some dude who came all the way from Denmark for the show!

The Parachutes to Daughter part of the show was almost like a mini acoustic set with a giant wooden triangle lowering just above the band for those 4 songs.

Overall, the crowd’s energy and enthusiasm is what made this show stand out to me. Pearl Jam was awesome as always, providing a nice mix of big hits, b-sides, and cover songs. The house lights went on for the last 3 songs of the night, and it was awesome to see people just letting loose and dancing during Rockin’ In The Free World.

If you were at the show, you don’t need me to tell you to go buy the official bootleg when it’s out. Any Pearl Jam fans reading this who weren’t in London for the show, definitely check out the bootleg of this one. This was the loudest crowd I think I have ever heard at a concert. It was just brilliant to hear and I’m sure a lot of people who were at the show would agree. Pearl Jam rolls into Wrigley Field in Chicago on Friday for their only other summer date in 2013.

For more concert reviews, band interviews, and general awesome a) “follow PeteHatesMusic on Twitter” and b) “Like PeteHatesMusic on Facebook“. We’re better than those Dundas hookers on crack.

PHM Rating for Pearl Jam: 9.0 out of 10

Setlist for Pearl Jam @ Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario, Canada – July 16, 2013

1 – Present Tense
2 – Nothingman
3 – Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
4 – Corduroy (with The Clash’s London Calling intro)
5 – Mind Your Manners (first ever live performance)
6 – Got Some
7 – Given To Fly
8 – Sad
9 – Alone
10 – Even Flow
11 – I Got Id
12 – In Hiding
13 – Lukin
14 – Not For You
15 – Black (with Modern Girl intro, Sleater Kinney cover)
16 – Porch

17 – Last Exit
18 – Last Kiss (Wayne Cochran cover)
19 – Parachutes
20 – Man Of The Hour
21 – Just Breathe
22 – Daughter
23 – Unthought Known
24 – Do The Evolution

25 – Smile
26 – Brain of J.
27 – Better Man
28 – Alive
29 – Rockin’ In The Free World (Neil Young cover)
30 – Indifference

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