Eddie Vedder officially opened his nine-show The Earthlings Tour on Thursday at New York City’s famed Beacon Theatre. With all the fanfare and excitement worthy of one of the world’s most recognizable rock icons, there has been heavy buzz for these shows, especially ahead of Eddie’s third solo album, Earthling, which is due to release on February 11th via Seattle Surf/Republic Records. This comes over a decade since Vedder’s sophomore solo release, 2011’s Ukelele Songs, precipitated by his solo debut with the Into The Wild soundtrack in 2007.

A private rehearsal show at The Capitol Theatre in Portchester, NY notwithstanding, this marked Mr. Vedder’s first New York show since Pearl Jam was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Brooklyn in April 2017 and a proper Madison Square Garden twofer in April 2016 before that. Last night also marked the first public indoor show for Pearl Jam’s iconic frontman since pre-COVID (July 17, 2018 at the O2 Arena in London, England).

As he will for the duration of the tour, Glen Hansard, one of the most endearing and authentic musicians you’re ever likely to see, performed the opening set. From the very first notes, Glen defined the term “all-in”, bringing to life the personal charm and warmth that typifies his Irish brogue. With a rare ability to transport his listeners to another time and place, Glen always takes his audience for a ride and it’s usually to the backroom of a small Irish pub.

The set was highlighted by a rousing rendition of “Falling Slowly”, the Academy Award-winning song he wrote, composed, and performed with Markéta Irglová for the film Once. Straining to make the room smaller and be closer to his audience, toward the end of his set Glen literally broke free from the wire tethering his acoustic guitar and the mics amplifying his voice, finishing his set whilst standing atop a stage monitor, acoustic guitar in hand, singing and playing to a sold-out Beacon without amplification.

The stage was minimally adorned: billowing white curtains flowing behind a drum riser and twin mannequins clad in A-line midi skirts with blouses to match adorned as ’50s cocktail waitresses, with garish headwear featuring an array of twenty or more bowling pins fashioned in the manner of a peacock’s tail. As the crowd was left to ponder the meaning (or lack thereof) behind the stage setup, the PA filled the airwaves with a ’70s lounge singer crooning “I’m on my way.”

Being in New York, semi-obvious first thoughts went to Frank Sinatra though I quickly realized that this was the voice of Edward Louis Severson, Jr., Eddie Vedder’s father, now deceased for over 40 years but joining us from beyond the grave with the same cameo dubbed into Earthling’s final track, “On My Way”. For those now in the know, prepare to be shaken in the very best way by this most haunting and poignant moment.

Eddie Vedder and his new backing band The Earthlings were met with thunderous applause as they made their way to the stage under cover of this most wistful and evocative track. The band opened with a trio of covers: R.E.M.’s “Drive” (released by Vedder on the Flag Day soundtrack last summer), “Room At The Top”, a deep cut from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun”.

Band and audience alike now suitably warmed up, Eddie Vedder would begin to showcase his new material as the set’s final 14 songs would include ten of 13 tracks from the still-unreleased Earthling and two each from both Flag Day and Pearl Jam. The crowd stayed warm as “The Haves” got the debuts rolling comfortably, one of just three new tracks that the audience at large had the chance to sample as one of Earthling’s lead singles, playing very much like a heartfelt tearjerker as Eddie crooned under a spotlight at the edge of the stage with his all-star band arrayed behind him: Andrew Watt (guitar), Josh Klinghoffer (guitar, formerly of Red Hot Chili Peppers), Glen Hansard (guitar), Chris Chaney (bass, Jane’s Addiction), and Chad Smith (drums, Red Hot Chili Peppers). The Vedder/Hansard-penned “I’ll Be Waiting” followed.

“Invincible” was the first song of the evening that anyone without press credentials heard for the first time and it was met with widespread approval as many fans even managed to sing along by song’s end, the David Byrne-esque rocker feeling very much the logical continuation of Vedder’s songwriting on the heels of Pearl Jam’s most recent Gigaton. “The Dark”, “Power Of Right”, and “Fallout Today” debuted similarly, putting on display The Earthlings’ prowess while letting fans know that thematically Earthling is very much the middle ground between Pearl Jam’s alt-rock edge and Vedder’s singer/songwriter Americana.

Earthling’s lead single, “Long Way” was extremely well received and notably more impactful live than in the studio, as is often the case. Another duet with Hansard followed with Flag Day’s second selection, “Tender Mercies”. As Eddie would next inform the crowd, two albums dropped on the same day 25 years hence: David Bowie’s Earthling and Pearl Jam’s Yield. Admitting that the album title was a realized-too-late type of coincidence and with no desire to upstage or outdo Mr. Bowie, Eddie et. al. then honored Yield with a reading of “Wishlist”, hitting all the right feelings even amidst all the wrong lyrics. (Note: Eddie’s math was a bit off, as Yield was released in 1998 and Earthling in 1997, though both still on February 3rd.)

Ever the storyteller, the next song in the queue got Eddie started on the topic of suicide and depression as he readied the band for Earthling’s third and final single, “Brother The Cloud”. A tale of loss and longing, and perhaps an obvious reference to the climbing death of Eddie’s half-brother Chris Mueller in 2016, this reading felt more like an ode to fallen musical brother Chris Cornell, lost to suicide in 2017, especially as Eddie slammed his mic stand and screamed the song’s all-encompassing sentiment in the face of such senseless loss, “Fuck you!”

With heartfelt appreciation, Eddie thanked the inimitable Chad Smith, standing in on drums for Ringo Starr who has the album credits on the Beatles-esque tune “Mrs. Mills”, one of the album’s lighter tracks. A second stand-in of sorts would follow, as famed rock photographer and local NYC musician Danny Clinch would fill Stevie Wonder’s cameo on harmonica during a reading of “Try”.

A short drum solo led into the penultimate “Rose Of Jericho”, another little banger that gave way to the set-closing Pearl Jam favorite “Porch”. Though decidedly different in feel with a different band behind him–and with lyrical accuracy still at a premium–Eddie and company sent the storied Beacon into a tizzy as Watt continued to impress with his guitar prowess.

The debut portion of the evening now behind us, a short break gave way to a five-song encore set that kicked off with a cover of the Pretenders’ “Precious”. Perhaps my favorite moment of the night would follow, as I was seated a few spots away from Mrs. Eddie Vedder and was able to share in her joy as she smiled and danced and sang along with some of Pearl Jam’s most recognizable lyrics … can’t find a better man! “Better Man” segued into Patti Smith’s “People Have The Power” without pause before the evening’s second George Harrison cover, “Isn’t It A Pity”. Up against curfew, the band squeezed in a compact but robust cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower”.

Eddie Vedder, the Earthlings, and everyone in the room on Thursday were in all their glory as the tour’s first show was powerful and magnificent, a singular mulligan and a few misplaced lyrics having no ill effects whatsoever. This all-star troupe performed together for just the second time ever last night (fourth if you count two shows at Ohana with a slightly different lineup) and you can certainly expect the band to improve with each successive night as these shows also function as live rehearsals. Having been one of the few lucky enough to preview Earthling, I can unabashedly say that these songs reach the full weight of both their intention and their potential in the live setting.

Eddie Vedder The Earthlings Tour continues with a second sold-out show at the Beacon Theater tonight, February 4th, before visiting just five more cities with only seven more shows, culminating with a pair of shows in Seattle’s famed Benaroya Hall. For tickets and a full list of tour dates click here. Check out some fan-shot videos from Eddie Vedder at the Beacon Theatre courtesy of Michael Weinbaum. Scroll down for a gallery of images from the concert courtesy of photographer Michael Ryan Kravetsky.

Eddie Vedder – “Drive” (R.E.M.) – 2/3/22

Eddie Vedder – “Here Comes The Sun” (The Beatles) – 2/3/22

Eddie Vedder – “I’ll Be Waiting” – 2/3/22

Eddie Vedder – “Fallout Today” – 2/3/22

Eddie Vedder, Glen Hansard – “Tender Mercies” – 2/3/22


Eddie Vedder – “Wishlist” – 2/3/22

Eddie Vedder – “Rose of Jericho” – 2/3/22

Eddie Vedder – “Mrs. Mills” – 2/3/22


Setlist: Eddie Vedder | Beacon Theatre | New York, NY | 2/3/22

Set: Drive (R.E.M.), Room at the Top (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), Here Comes the Sun (The Beatles), The Haves, I’ll Be Waiting, Invincible, The Dark, Power of Right, Fallout Today, Long Way, Tender Mercies, Wishlist, Brother the Cloud, Mrs. Mills, Try, Rose of Jericho, Porch

Encore: Precious (Pretenders), Better Man > People Have the Power (Patti Smith), Isn’t It a Pity (George Harrison), All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan)