With almost 34 years gone by since the legendary band played its first Seattle show, Pearl Jam proved it can still sell out arenas and mesmerize audiences with an eclectic mix of old and new music. The band’s 25-song set leaned heavily into the ‘90s albums Ten and Yield, touching on almost the entire Pearl Jam discography and featuring eight new songs from the just-released album, Dark Matter. The local crowd erupted into joyous, nostalgic sing-alongs with every greatest grunge hit, and many a middle-aged man air-guitared an ageless McCready solo, but the swaying heads never stilled and the energy never lilted as the band debuted its often surprisingly psychedelic new material. Fans were more than willing to stare at the digital backdrop of cosmic wormholes and frothing solar flares as Pearl Jam showcased its new album, much of which the crowd knew by heart.

The audience at the Climate Pledge Arena was mostly middle-aged, but a healthy presence of children and teenagers proved that aging Seattleites are doing their duty to pass on the love of grunge to the next generation. Frontman Eddie Vedder did his part by holding the arena in the palm of his hand with every intimate interlude and unplanned exchange with diehard fans. One such moment had him sit down on the edge of the stage and sing the chorus of “Daughter” to a little girl being held up by her parents. The little girl’s rapture became a shared experience as every soul in the arena felt Vedder serenading the collective child within.

Pearl Jam — “Daughter” — 5/28/24

[Video: DB]

Two Dark Matter songs later, the band dedicated “Waiting for Stevie” to Sue Bird, the legendary Seattle Storm basketball player. Vedder described the song as “about a woman finding her power” as the stage lights illuminated Bird’s retired jersey hanging from the rafters. The next number went out to Bill Walton, the hall-of-fame basketball player and iconic Grateful Dead fan who passed away from cancer the day earlier. Vedder described Walton as a man who “cut a path of peace and love” before singing a soulful rendition of “Man of the Hour” while Walton’s smiling face shone from the big screen.

Pearl Jam – Bill Walton Tribute, “Man Of The Hour” – 5/28/24

[Video: NotAWalkYaKnow]

The vibe switched back to hard rock with “Satan’s Bed”, then eased into an encore with “Rearview Mirror.” After a short break, Vedder returned to acknowledge that one of their guitarists had not only played off-key during “Satan’s Bed”, but played the wrong song entirely, proving that “Satan is not on our side.”

The show’s final stretch struck a kind of family reunion, campfire jam session vibe, kicked off by Vedder dedicating a solo acoustic “Just Breathe” to his wife and the wives of his bandmates, who were all gathered together in attendance. “Do the Evolution” brought the energy back up to a fever pitch of outrage against misogyny and militaristic violence before the entire arena belted “Alive”, their voices and bodies and the band and the pulsing lights all rising together in defiant affirmation of the indomitable human spirit.

The lights came on, but the band wasn’t finished yet. As Vedder put it, “We can do what we want with the place.” The giddy members of opening act Deep Sea Divers skipped onto the stage, and the two bands jammed out to an extended riff on Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” All took a bow and made to exit, but Pearl Jam couldn’t leave without McCready melting “Yellow Ledbetter” into Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing”, a live classic that sent the arena into hysterics. The lights dimmed, and the band finished the set with “Setting Sun”, the final song from Dark Matter, as a blazing ring of light on the event horizon of a black hole brought the night full circle. The lights came on for real this time, and thus ended another in a long line of epic Seattle Pearl Jam shows.

Pearl Jam will play a second show at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena on May 30th before continuing its Dark Matter World Tour in Dublin on June 22nd. The tour will take the band through Europe until mid-July, and then return to the United States in August and September. The tour will conclude in New Zealand and Australia in November. Check out a gallery of images from Tuesday’s show courtesy of photographer Dave Vann along with fan-shot videos by DB.

This tour is only getting started, and there are many shows to come, but none will be quite like this one.

Pearl Jam — “Scared Of Fear” — 5/28/24

Pearl Jam — “I Am Mine” — 5/28/24

Pearl Jam — “Rearviewmirror” — 5/28/24

Pearl Jam — “Deep” — 5/28/24

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Setlist: Pearl Jam | Climate Pledge Arena | Seattle, WA | 5/28/24

Set: Release, Thin Air [1], Low Light, Given To Fly, Scared Of Fear, React, Respond, Wreckage, I Am Mine [1], Even Flow, Dark Mater, Daughter [2], Upper Hand, Waiting For Stevie [1] [3], Satan’s Bed [1], Rearviewmirror

Encore: Just Breathe [4], River Cross [1], Running, Deep [1], Do The Evolution, Alive [5], All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan) [1] [6], Yellow Ledbetter [7], Setting Sun

[1] Tour debut
[2] w/ “My City of Ruins” (Bruce Springsteen) tag
[3] Dedicated to Bill Walton
[4] Eddie Vedder solo
[5] w/ “War Pigs” (Black Sabbath) tag
[6] w/ Deep Sea Diver
[7] w/ “Little Wing” (Jimi Hendrix) tag