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Recap and Photo Gallery: Pearl Jam at United Center • Chicago

| September 6, 2023

Pearl Jam

United Center

Chicago, IL

September 5, 2023

Recap and photos by Curt Baran

Pearl Jam came to play! The Seattle quintet (fleshed out to 7 players on this tour) has become increasingly more squeamish about touring post-COVID. Their album Gigaton was released nearly two and a half years ago, but the band has launched only two abbreviated tours since.

Their current sojourn is a nine-date trek that landed them in Chicago’s United Center for the first of two dates. The band eased itself into the evening, spending their first four songs atop stools, reminiscent of their now iconic MTV Unplugged performance from the early ‘90s. But that mellow vibe could only be contained for so long. Now in their third DECADE of existence, the band seems to be playing in peak form. Pulling generously from all corners of their catalog, they delivered a tutorial on how to age gracefully without sacrificing an ounce of dignity.

Of course, all eyes were on Eddie Vedder. The lead singer with the golden throat and an endless supply of “it” factor remains a focal point of their combustible live performances. But to ignore the other members would be a disservice to both the band and audience members. Drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Jeff Ament are the jet engine under which everything else runs, and it was never more apparent during rock radio staples like “Even Flow” and “Alive.” But the band also dug deep, treating the die-hards to lesser-known favorites like “Down,” “God’s Dice,” and “Inside Job.”

They even kept things Chicago-centric, ending the evening with a cover of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender.” Sure, technically, the Trick hails from Rockford, but once the city of Big Shoulders adopts you, you become a lifer. Just ask former Evanston native Vedder. His return always feels like the warm embrace of the prodigal son.


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