Pump up the Volume: Eddie Vedder & Glen Hansard
Jacksonville has incredible talent traveling through the city. Recently, Eddie Vedder and Glen Hansard performed at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. Paul Chapman attended and tells us about his experience.
Published December 2, 2012 in Weekend Edition
Eddie Vedder performing at Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts
Well hello there friends, it...has...been...a minute! Alas I am back to extol the various musical goings on in and around this fine community. Several months ago the great Eddie Vedder, enigmatic frontman to Seattle kings Pearl Jam, was supposed to swing through Jax in support of his latest--and I must add, stellar--solo project "Ukulele Songs". Unfortunately for both fans and the performers themselves the tour was postponed and rescheduled because of an injury Mr. Vedder sustained previously in the year. I had completely forgotten about the show until the day before Thanksgiving when the opportunity to go landed in my lap--thank you to the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts for facilitating this lucky happenstance!
Anyone who knows me can tell you that I have a HEALTHY respect for Seattle. It's a borderline obsession. Through that obsession I discovered Pearl Jam in middle school and was fully hooked by my sophomore year. The more I've learned about Eddie Vedder the more I have grown to respect him as an artist. He defies the stereotypical narcissistic frontman motif. He is firmly planted in mainstream culture but relishes the DIY aesthetic. His music is simultaneously pleasant to hear but contains ever-challenging social commentary. He's challenged Ticketmaster over price gouging at the height of his band's popularity and challenged a President at the height of HIS popularity. He's zigged when he should've zagged and vice versa but he's still here; respected, growing, relevant. His newest record, the afore mentioned "Ukulele Songs", is a thing of simplistic beauty. Immediate and lushly raw. I was indeed looking forward to the show...
My earliest exposure to Glen Hansard was in the early 90's when I first saw a crazy little movie about an overzealous Irish blues band. The Commitments left little impact on me at the time but this one member of its ensemble would go on to be very close to my heart musically. I had heard The Frames throughout my high school years--there was a time when their CDs were readily available in budget bins and Goodwills across the country--but they never really struck a nerve. That all changed in 2001 when I walked into the record shop my buddy ran and I heard "Headlong" for the first time. I have since all but worn out that track along with every other track on The Frames' high water mark, For The Birds. Mr. Hansard had gone on to release several more acclaimed records with The Frames, Swell Season, and now his solo project as well. He's starred in another film--Once, this one far less under the radar--won an Oscar for best song, and his music and Once's story has been turned into a Tony-winning Broadway musical. This evening was clearly a predestined magical experience...
Walking into the Moran theatre I was struck by two immediate thoughts. First, that it is a lovely venue and quite larger than I had expected. Secondly, the Pearl Jam/Eddie Vedder shirts throughout the crowd. One of the my favorite culturally important cinematic scenes ever filmed is at the beginning of the criminally under-known 90's gem P.C.U. If you haven't seen it you need to rectify that situation, that said, one of the characters is getting ready to leave for "The Merkins'"concert whilst wearing a "Merkins'" t-shirt, a fact with which another character takes umbrage with, and quips "Don't be THAT guy!" Seriously friends, concerts are not football games! Wear a different band shirt to express the broadness of your musical taste, after all, isn't this ancient form of peacocking advertisement why we buy concert tees in the first place?!?!?!
Glen Hansard kicked the night off with a masterfully carried out 8-song set containing all the fun and charm of a well seasoned busker. He even indulged a crowd request for the Swell Season tune "Say it to Me Now" played fully unplugged from the front edge of the stage to the hushed crowd. Several cuts from his new solo album and some unexpected covers, including the closing number by the great Daniel Johnston. Aided by his faithful steed Horse (his well loved guitar), Glen Hansard did not disappoint. His wit was sharp, his playing was masterful, and his voice was perfection as he smoothly drifted from fragility to intensity all the while steaming with a passionate urgency. And with that he exited the stage ever so unassumingly.
The curtain rose on Eddie Vedder's nearly 3 hour, multi-set change, 30-song performance to a beautiful theatrical set filled with props that made you feel as if someone had turned a killer antique store into a living room. With a quick hello he immediately went into a pitch perfect acoustic version of Pearl Jam's "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town", he would play a handful of other notable PJ tunes before the night was over including "Better Man" and "I am Mine". He played the bulk of his recent solo outing as well as several numbers from the "Into the Wild" soundtrack. As the show went on we were treated to fantastically simple yet strangely lush backdrops--there was even a black back drop fitted with sparkling LEDs that made a twinkling night sky behind him and the camp out aesthetic was completed by the functioning LED campfire! Mr. Vedder regaled us with a dry wit that my good friend so accurately described as channeling the late Mitch Hedberg, as well as entertaining anecdotes from the road and from his childhood, all this seamlessly sewn together evoking shows from another time yet totally fresh and cutting edge. The highlights of the show however, not surprisingly, were the 6 songs that Glen Hansard joined in on including their duet from "Ukulele Songs" ("Sleepless Nights") sung unplugged in a busking style and them joining forces on Mr. Hansard's Oscar winning ballad "Falling Slowly", and Mr. Vedder's always passionate take on Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World". Jacksonville and myself were indeed blessed to experience the last two shows with these two great artists' tour stops together...
Eddie Vedder--Ukulele Songs
The Frames--For the Birds
For set list info:
Article by Paul Thomas Chapman
Times Union Center for Performing Arts
Nov. 24, 2012
Show One Set List
Intro Music: Tuolumne
01. Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
02. Cant Keep
(guy in audience screams welcome to Jacksonville Eddie. Ed responds, Home of the Jackson Five? No wait that is (sings) Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana. He then invites the audience to be seated because we are going to be here awhile. I made the same offer to Tulsa but by the end of the night they couldnt stand up...but you guys seem much more dignified than that.... A women shouts I love you Eddie!!. Ed, Well, I cant see you but I am sure I love you too. I am going to play another quiet song before the fireworks start. This is in reference to a riverside boat parade that we have been told might end with fireworks.)
03. Sleeping By Myself
04. Without You
(while Ed is talking to the audience about playing in Florida and this being his first time in Jacksonville fireworks can be heard going off. Ed says, that is pretty loud for the quiet song I was gonna play.. can you you hand me that loud ukulele? He talks a bit about the instrument and says, if they are going to make that noise out there this is my answer..)
05. Loud Uke
06. Soon Forget (fireworks can still be heard going off outside especially during the whistling part)
07. Light Today
08. Brain Damage-(Waters)
(Ed tells of reading a Bruce Springsteen interview where for a while Bruce would pick a person in the front row and sing the entire show to them. Looking them in the eye the entire time. Ed says, I tried it a couple of times but I would look at the person and after minute they would look down. I would keep looking at them, they would look up and I would still be singing to them so they would look back down...and I understand that. I would be weirded out by that too. Somebody shouts a request for Red Mosquito. yeah, that is a good one...I am never gonna play it but it is a good one...you kinda want to have Mike McCready at your back for that.)
10. Girl From The North Country-(Dylan)
11. I Am Mine
(I dont know what to say about this next song...It is based on a true story. It happens to male same sex couples, female same sex couples, male and female couples. It happens a lot. To much. I remember I got to play the song with Pete Townshend. He was listening to a live version. Pete said, I really like the chords and the way the crowd is singing along. I like that the song is so dysfunctional and so many people relate to it.Ҕ)
13. Far Behind
(Ed, some of the songs on Into The Wild are really short but that is because the scenes are so short. People say, Its a good song but it is so short. Eds reply was Play it twice. He said I didnt want to give Sean (Penn) a 4 minute song for 1:15 scene. He was already doing all the hard work. And is still doing the hard work. Just a little ways away from you in Haiti. He has been there for two years working his flesh to the bone.
Ed then tells a story about going camping with his family in Florida and having to swim in a lagoon that reeked of sulfur. His Dad threw a rock at what appeared to be a log but when the rock struck it the log sank. When they left they realized they were close to another lagoon that had some alligators in it. Ed realized that his father had chucked a rock at an alligator. Ed feels lucky to have survived his first trip to Florida.)
16. Long Nights w/ Glen Hansard
(Ed talks about the community of fans that meet and hang out with each other on the tours. He says that there are probably people at the show now that are around 20 that were conceived during Pearl Jams early tours)
(Ed compliments the audience. We are going to be here awhile, I dont know where I am playing tomorrow but fuck those guys...present company excluded. A guy in the audience yells, (for perhaps the 15th time) Welcome to Florida Eddie. Ed comments that tonights show would make a good bootleg..but everyone would be wondering why that guy yells welcome to Florida about every two songs. Ed equates it to a flight attendant welcoming you to Florida. We arrived at the same time, why are you welcoming me?)
20. Pump Organ
21. Speed Of Sound
22. Let My Love Open The Door-(Townshend)
(Ed dedicates a song to the Merrit (sp) family. Dr. Merrit is the doctor in Hawaii that takes care of the big wave surfers. Another Dr. Matt (?) is Eds dealer, music dealer. He gets Ed all sorts of great music.)
23. Society w/ Glen Hansard-(Hannan)
24. Sleepless Nights w/Glen Hansard-(Bryant, Bryant) Busk no mics or PA
(Ed says, Obviously, I wouldnt be playing this next song without Glen and after this tour I am really going to miss playing it. Hopefully someday again in the future...)
25. Falling Slowly w/ Glen Hansard-(Hansard, Irglová)
(I am gonna play a Willie Nelson song, at least it is now..)
26. Just Breathe
27. Unthought Known
28. Rockin In The Free World-(Young)
Encore Break 2
29. Hard Sun w/ Glen Hansard-(Peterson)
30. Tomorrow Night-(Traditional)
Glen Hansard Set List
02. Pennies In The Fountain
03. Love, Dont Leave Me Waiting/Respect-(Redding)
04. This Gift
05. Bird Of Sorrow
06. Say It To Me Now
07. Way Back In The Way Back When
08. Devil Town-(Daniel Johnston)
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