Eddie Vedder Plays the Soulful Surfer Boy at the Paramount Theatre (Photos + Setlist)

Categories: Last Night

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Christopher Victorio
Eddie Vedder at the Paramount Theatre last night.

Eddie Vedder
Glen Hansard
July 11, 2011
@ Paramount Theatre, Oakland

(See a full slideshow from Eddie Vedder in Oakland.)

Way better than: Eddie Vedder's all-ukulele record (Ukulele Songs, it's called).

Nothing against the four-stringed instrument that resulted when Portuguese immigrants landed on the Hawaiian islands. Really. The ukulele has a certain magic. But its sweetness, simplicity, and accessibility don't make it the most versatile string-over-wood contraption in the world, which is partly why we were a little trepidatious about Eddie Vedder's solo tour stop in Oakland last night (and again tonight).

Thankfully, the opening ukulele show-off was just the appetizer for a long and winding and rather great performance. The onetime San Diego resident indulged his surfer-boy side with the Hawaiian instrument and a few lesser-known (and generally lesser) Pearl Jam tunes. But he also reworked a few of the band's standards for solo guitar and ukulele, played some winning cuts from his soundtracking career, and co-starred in an amazing version of "Falling Slowly" with opener (and possible show-stealer) Glen Hansard.

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Christopher Victorio

It took an arsenal of instruments to accomplish this. Vedder listed the full tally of gear in the program, right down to the stool he sat on and the Corona beer crate he occasionally used as a kickdrum. Among the gorgeous vintage guitars and amplifiers were also an old school reel-to-reel machine (among the only tape players of which we still approve), an organ, and a mandolin. Vedder even listed the round Persian rug put down below him (8 feet in diameter; courtesy of Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament). But aside from a few songs on which Glen Hansard contributed, Vedder played everything himself -- there was no backing band or supporting instruments.

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Christopher Victorio
Vedder's stage table

The show began, as expected, with some of Vedder's ukulele songs. And while "Can't Keep" still seems wasted on the instrument, other tunes fared better. "Without You," in particular used its smooth treble to gorgeous effect. But "Broken Heart" -- despite Vedder explaining the depths of depression in which it was written -- still felt like a rather minor song compared with others he's penned.

Soon enough, Vedder was playing on six strings and reworking Pearl Jam material. The packed house howled for hits like "Better Man" (rearranged into a delicate parlor guitar version); "Wishlist" (with lyrics about the neutron bomb changed to "I would never go off"); and "I Am Mine" (which strangely feels like a hit even though it's off Riot Act, one of those frowned-upon later albums). These were certainly highlights -- but they weren't the only ones.

We got a lighter, more straightforward side of Vedder on songs like "Long Nights" and "Guaranteed," both from the Into the Wild soundtrack. And while tunes like the fan club-released "Santa Cruz" might take up valuable time at a Pearl Jam show (sample lyric: "Got the feeling I just can't lose/Rolling into Santa Cruz"), they went down fine in a room where everyone had a seat. Anyone who cares enough to pay $70 or more to see Eddie Vedder solo probably knows the guy has a basement full of songs the other members of Pearl Jam were smart enough to keep him from putting on an album. You go to shows like this to hear those songs.


Location Info

Venue

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Paramount Theatre

2025 Broadway, Oakland, CA

Category: Film

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13 comments
Maryyyyhhhh
Maryyyyhhhh

My Tuesday show was probably just WAY more amazing than this. I have been to hundreds of shows. I am a bad perfectionist in my life, judging harshly,  but he was...absolutely PERFECT. FUN, beautiful, engaging, dropping names (which I usually hate), telling cool stories, telling about his life and heartbreak. His voice, when compared to recordings was so clear, amazing, resonant. I never say something is perfect... But, he was.

 I have joked with friends that he sounds like a sheep in Pearl Jam recordings. I bought this ticket on a whim, as there has been no good music anywhere this summer near Santa Rosa, so I wanted to do something, anything. I am soooo happy I did. This will stay with me forever. I paid a good sum for the ticket and hotel but it was totally worth it.

And the album, Ukelele Songs, which I bought for a friend at the show...well, I sort of have taken it over. I lived in Hawaii, and hated Ukelele and Hawaiian music and got so sick of it, wailing in the vocals, keening and screaming in weird, high male and female voices, worse than sopranos singing bad operas.

But Eddie Vedder, well, he has it down. You had to be there.

Berkeleybrian
Berkeleybrian

so you claim to be someone who "bows at the alter of Pearl Jam" but you don't even have the correct names for the songs listed.  There is no PJ song called "Immortal"

978456
978456

The song is called  'typo.' Maybe heard of it? You don't even offer a solution. The correct PJ song is title "Immortality" which can be easily missed. You know how hard it is to remember every single PJ song let alone write in complete darkness?

karinabeane
karinabeane

To that note, I still hate to see a band lose touch of its roots so I am thrilled to report that Pearl Jam announced their next tour dates. The group will be going on a South and Central American tour starting November 4 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.     http://bit.ly/o2WAr3

karinabeane
karinabeane

That voice. That hair. Such a talented musician. Top notch performance. Great to see him interact with the audience with the stories and the back-n-forth.     http://bit.ly/o2WAr3

Noah Grant
Noah Grant

I couldn't agree more with the theme of this review, which is exactly why I didn't go to the show--I've seen PJ a lot, I'm a HUGE Pearl Jam fan (or, like the author, at least of their work through Binaural, possibly through self-titled).  When I saw EV twice solo at Zellerbach a few years back, it became apparent to me that the voice I grew up with was no longer there.  Furthermore, Eddie's solo ITW stuff just felt to me like he was trying to cop Bob Dylan, and frankly, he didn't do a very good job at it.  I love him, he's probably the biggest musical icon of my life, but that kind of writing isn't his strength.  So I certainly didn't want to hear him, as the author feared, channel Jack Johnson (in addition to Bob Dylan).  And it just isn't worth the price of admission, to me, to see the man I grew up idolizing singing songs of old with a voice that just isn't there.

Maryyyyhhhh
Maryyyyhhhh

You just didn't see him at the Paramount.

tivolo
tivolo

Having never seen PJ or Eddie live (but being a big fan), I didn't know what to expect -- sometime live artists don't live up to what comes out of the studio. But I left Monday's show totally wow'ed by the his voice -- any thought that it somehow "isn't there" anymore is just crazy. My wife, who's not really a fan, even thought he sounded amazing.

Arwenivy7
Arwenivy7

Sucks for you because both nights were truly amazing.

Sulfite_free
Sulfite_free

Well -- all I can say is that you truly missed out.  Was glad I shared it with my daughter

Lulu
Lulu

And I am more than happy I got to share one of the Oakland concerts with my now husband  (we actually got to meet Eddie Vedder after the July 11th show.... it was amazing!!) and the second Oakland show with my mom. To those that are not "into" Eddie anymore, all I can say is I am so sad for you. He is such a talent and if such talent isn't appreciated then there are thousands of us fans who are still just as devoted fans as we were 20 years ago. He has changed but changed for the better. We are actually going to his Austin, Tx. solo show :-D

John Panama
John Panama

Don't let this review fool you, the Ukelele songs performed by Eddie sounded amazing last night. The acoustics of the Paramount are incredible. Seriously, this show is worth every single penny, do yourself a favor and get a ticket even if you're a casual Pearl Jam fan. The storytelling by both performers was a huge highlight of the night. The sheep story told by Ed was hilarious! The slightly different version of Better Man sounded so beautiful that I got choked up momentarily. Personal bias: I've been a Pearl Jam fan for 20 years.

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