After over two years of delays, Pearl Jam opened up its long-awaited tour behind 2020’s Gigaton earlier this month in California. All was well with stops in San Deigo, two nights in Los Angeles, and Glendale, AZ last week. Then, when the band got to Oakland for a pair of shows at the Oakland Arena, drummer Matt Cameron tested positive for COVID. Not wanting to make fans wait any longer, Eddie Vedder and his bandmates said the show must go on, performing both nights with a stable of ringers including Josh Klinghoffer, Richard Stuveru, and a pair of lucky fans.
“Matt Cameron is a true artist and he’s a force of nature,” frontman Eddie Vedder told the crowd on Thursday. “However, even his superhero status could not prevent him from testing positive. This damn COVID thing yesterday. We’ve been scrambling for 24 hours because after 25 months of… We were supposed to be here 25 months ago. We’ve been waiting and we’ve been waiting. Postponing wasn’t an option and for us neither was canceling. We didn’t want to pull the plug and we couldn’t pull the plug. We’ve got our group here, we’ve got our equipment here and, most importantly, you’re here.”
Klinghoffer, the former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist who joined Pearl Jam as a touring member last year, filled in on drums for the bulk of both nights. His duties were shared with Stuveru, a longtime collaborator of bassist Jeff Ament, who took his share of the workload. Thursday’s show was loaded with tour debuts, including the opening cover of Neil Young‘s “Rockin’ In The Free World”, and the encore performances of “Animal” and The Who‘s “Baba Riley”, in addition to the band’s first take on The Beatles‘ “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” since 5/2/16 per Setlist.fm, which began the encore segment.
Eddie Vedder – “Needle & The Damage Done” (Neil Young) – 5/12/22
Pearl Jam – “Rockin’ In The Free World” (Neil Young) – 5/12/22
The biggest surprise of the show, however, came as Vedder asked if there were any drummers in the audience. A man, later identified as Josh Arroyo, was enthusiastically endorsed by his section of friends (and possibly fans) as a man who knows his way around a kit. Arroyo came to the show wearing a shirt boasting the last name of every Pearl Jam drummer.
“Get him tested for COVID and bring him out for the encore!” Vedder exclaimed to uproarious applause from the audience ahead of “Not For You”.
Pearl Jam – “Not For You” – 5/12/22
True to his word, the band brought out Arroyo to sit behind the drums for the show-closing “Yellow Ledbetter”. Vedder joked that the drummer will need a new shirt that has his own name on it.
Pearl Jam – “Baba O’Riley” (The Who) – 5/12/22
Pearl Jam, Josh Arroyo – “Yellow Ledbetter” – 5/12/22
Friday’s show saw more high-octane rock n’ roll, which included the first “W.M.A” since 4/16/16 midway through the main set. Immediately following the Vs. cut, Stuveru made room behind the drum kit for Kai Neukermans. The 17-year-old drummer of Mill Valley’s own The Alive previously impressed Vedder at Ohana Festival in 2018, so much so that he brought him out for “Mind Your Manners” on Friday.
“Everybody, this is Kai. Kai, this is everybody,” Vedder said, introducing the soon-to-be high school graduate to the 19,956-capacity arena.
Pearl Jam – “W.M.A.” – 5/13/22
Pearl Jam, Kai Neukermans – “Mind Your Manners” – 5/13/22
Pearl Jam next travels to Fresno, CA on Monday. The band has made no official announcement on the return of Matt Cameron as of this publication.
Setlist: Pearl Jam | Oakland Arena | Oakland, CA | 5/12/22
Set: Rockin’ in the Free World (Neil Young cover) , Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town, Why Go, Corduroy, Quick Escape, Superblood Wolfmoon, Nothingman, Even Flow, Given to Fly, Wishlist, Black, Do the Evolution, Daughter , Not for You , Seven O’Clock, Jeremy, Porch
Encore: You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away (The Beatles) , Better Man, Lukin, Animal , Alive, Baba O’Riley (The Who) , Yellow Ledbetter
Notes: Eddie Vedder performed Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done” (LTP 5/5/16) and Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” solo when doors opened.
Josh Klinghoffer (3–6, 11–16, 21), Richard Stuverud (7–10, 17–19, 22–25) and Josh Arroyo (26) filled in on drums for Matt Cameron who was out with COVID
 Tour debut
 “Long May You Run” (The Stills-Young Band) tag
 “Modern Girl” (Sleater-Kinney) as outro
 LTP 5/2/16
Setlist: Pearl Jam | Oakland Arena | Oakland, CA | 5/13/22
Set: Long Road, Given to Fly, Once, Interstellar Overdrive (Pink Floyd), Corduroy, Throw Your Hatred Down (Neil Young), Quick Escape, Dissident, W.M.A. , Mind Your Manners, Brain of J., Low Light, Even Flow, Immortality, Do the Evolution, State of Love and Trust, Seven O’Clock, Rearviewmirror
Encore: Bee Girl, Smile, Better Man, Crazy Mary (Victoria Williams), Porch, Alive, Baba O’Riley (The Who)
Notes: Eddie Vedder performed Hunter & Collectors’ “Throw Your Arms Around Me” (LTP 8/22/16) solo when doors opened. Klinghoffer (2–6, 12–13, 15–16, 19, 21–23), Richard Stuverud (7–10, 14, 17–18, 24–26), and Kai Neukermans (11) filled in on drums for Matt Cameron who was out with COVID.
 LTP 4/16/16