PEARL JAM – MEN ARENA – 20/06/2012

Seattle rockers Pearl Jam played two nights at the MEN Arena, Manchester, UK ahead of headlining the Isle of White festival alongside Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty.

Although known for being key in the movement of Grunge in the early 1990s, Pearl Jam are undoubtably established as an iconic rock band with not only an extensive back catalogue but with a gifted – lyrically and musically – signature frontman, Eddie Vedder.

Tonight Pearl Jam played for over 2 hours, a set consisting of early hits such as ‘Even Flow’, adapting in a request from the front row of the audience and a cover of Neil Youngs’ ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ bringing the night to a close.

Opening in darkness with ‘Release’, taken from debut album ‘Ten’, the scene was set for what was to become one of the most powerful and dynamic nights experienced by 20,000 fans who have travelled worldwide to the show.  Vedder stops to acknowledge the audience before lifting his guitar and breaking into ‘Do The Evolution’ closely followed by ‘Corduroy’ that brought every hand in the arena reaching towards the roof with thunderous applause.

‘The Fixer’, ‘Given To Fly’ led into a treat from Vedder, ‘Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town’ before launching full steam ahead into fan favourite ‘Even Flow’.

As the very first note to ‘Nothingman’ travelled through the amps, the entire arena were on their feet, not a sitting person insight. Vedders’ voice has not changed since the recording of this track for the third studio album, Vitalogy, back  in 1994, a simple yet beautiful song that brings a tear to the eye.  There are moments in time that are indescribable to those who were not present to experience them, this being one of them. The meaning that is driven through each word sung by Vedder throughout ‘Nothingman’ really does leave you speechless.  The audience and Vedder became one.

Picking back up the tempo now, the band quickly launched into ‘Got Some’ followed by ‘Why Go’, getting the audience jumping around and going in what can only be described as a controlled frenzy which brought the first close to the night.


A quick change over to the stage back drop and Vedder kicked straight into the first encore of the night with ‘Just Breathe’.  Another simple, yet powerful track.  In ways similar to ‘Nothingman’, it had the crowd singing in unison with Vedder, arms reaching upwards, experiencing every moment as if it was the last song of the night.


Heading back to the early years now, with ‘Black’ taken from the debut album followed by  ‘State of Love and Trust’ – to the joy of the two fans at the front barrier who had held the printed banner for this track the entire show!  God bless em!  In honour of music legend, Joe Strummer, ‘Arms Aloft’ followed by ‘Porch’ brought encore 1 to a close. 

Walking back on stage to a deafening roar from the MEN arena,  just as you thought the set list couldn’t get any more perfect, the scene taken from Madison Square Gardens in 2011 could quite easily be repeating itself here tonight, the audience accompanied Vedder singing every word and sharing every emotion.  We are of course describing ‘Better Man’, a song that needs no review.

Although many people associate Pearl Jam with their heavier tracks such as ‘Alive’ and ‘Even Flow’, the true beauty to the band lies with tracks like ‘Better Man’, ‘Just Breathe’ and ‘Come Back’.

Pearl Jam closed the night on their cover of Neil Youngs’ ‘Rockin In The Free World’, every person in the arena would have loved a repeat of the stage dive that was witnessed at Pinkpop, Belgium in 1992, but sadly those days for Vedder have long passed.  With the house lights up, the entire arena was visible, the entire audience was up on their feet, everywhere you looked people were going crazy, it really was a picture that will be imprinted in the minds of those who were there for a long long time.

Set List


Do The Evolution


The Fixer

Given To Fly

Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town


Even Flow

Unknown Thought

1/2 Full


Why Can’t I Touch This



Got Some

Why Go

Encore 1:

Just Breathe


State Of Love and Trust

Arms Aloft


Encore 2:

Better Man

Come Back



Rockin in the Free World


Authors Note

For me to get the chance to shoot and review one of my all time favourite bands i could not say no, however when it came to sitting and reviewing the show, it has been the hardest review to write.  How can i describe a band that i describe as being indescribable as they are just that good?  It has been a pleasure but a challenge to write this review! To those at the show, it was an experienced shared, to those who were not, make sure next time we make it an experience shared.


About Del Preston

So there I am, in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, at about 3 o'clock in the morning, looking for one thousand brown M&Ms to fill a brandy glass, or Ozzy wouldn't go on stage that night. So, Jeff Beck pops his head 'round the door, and mentions there's a little sweet shop on the edge of town. So - we go. And - it's closed. So there's me and Keith Moon and David Crosby, breaking into that little sweet shop, eh. Well, instead of a guard dog, they've got this bloody great big Bengal tiger. I managed to take out the tiger with a can of mace, but the shop owner and his son, that's a different story altogether. I had to beat them to death with their own shoes. Nasty business really. But sure enough, I got the M&Ms and Ozzy went on stage and did a great show.