Eddie Vedder has been described in hundreds of ways: brooding writer, soulful artist, loner, pioneer, master and a six-string maestro. Tonight he stands in front of us humble, in a casual mood and about to unleash two hours and change worth of an experience that rocks even his most loyal fans to the core.
Vedder brings a sold-out crowd of nearly 3000 people Friday night to Los Angeles’ The Wiltern for the continuation of his 2011 solo US tour.
Oscar winner Glen Hansard was the evening’s opener and brought an Irish enthusiasm that was contagious. Song after song, he conjured guitar solos that left the audience in a thunder of applause. The perfect appetizer for tonight’s hearty entree.
Vedder is surrounded by stringed “gear”. Several ukuleles, a half-dozen electric guitars (among them his 1962 and 1964 White Fender “Stratocaster”), over a half dozen acoustic guitars, and a myriad of microphones and pedals. Throughout the evening, he uses each hand-chosen like a craftsmen building his art in front of us.
Even with the lightest tunes, Vedder has a way to deliver deeply morose, contemplative moments to each individual in his crowd. Commencing with “Waving Palms” and “Can’t Keep” until Vedder begins a bit of conversation with the audience. Just a few choice words rattled out between songs. He understands dark well, and even his jokes come out like suicide notes.
Visiting friends included Rudy Stein on cello for “Longing to Belong”, Glen Hansard for “Long Nights” and several surprises later on, a string quartet, and Doors rocker vet John Densmore for “Long Road” and “Wish List”.
The beauty of Vedder is the depth of soul he brings to the stage and the devouring his fans take and ultimately share. Watching thouands of people gently sway along to his words. Experiencing the audience unravel and collectively go on this communal journey brings solace to a troubled life. And one may suppose that’s what Eddie Vedder does and why his magic is loved worldwide.
On the second encore, Eddie Vedder was joined by Glen Hansard and John Desmore on the stage for Neil Diamond’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” and the crowd was on their feet singing along, moving, the random photo flash carrying a silhouette along the room’s side wall. At these moments, people just look around and smile. Lovingly lost in the moment.
Considering the acclaim Mr. Vedder has experienced he seems to remain humble. Acknowledging the crowd has plenty of choices for their Friday night and being gracious that they chose to spend it with him.