This past Friday, Pearl Jam opened their 2016 tour to a sold out crowd of PJ junkies at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. It’s been over 20 years since they played Broward County, and it was an amazing start to a tour that highlights their over 25 years together and 10 studio albums.
To say that the crowd was eager to hear PJ perform is an understatement. Having the opportunity to speak to many fans, the loyalty that they share is equivalent to the early followers of the Grateful Dead, or Parrot Heads. I personally know several friends who are going to 3 of the 4 Florida shows, and they are also attending another 4 out of state.
Some people in the crowd were talking about seeing PJ over 5o times. I can honestly say that Eddie and company, give it their all and 150% every night. Pearl Jam’s members are Eddie Vedder (vocals, guitar), Mike McCready (guitar), Jeff Ament (bass), Stone Gossard (guitar), which have been the main cast for the better part of 25 years. Matt Cameron (drums, formerly of Soundgarden) has been a member since 1998. Touring with the band for over 13 years is Boom Gaspar on (piano, keyboards).
Having been on the forefront of the grunge movement from the early 90’s, and still here some 25 years later as well as selling over 60 million records, is a testament to their connection as musicians and their fans loyalty.
The opening night at the BB&T Center was sold out and it was a simple 360-degree stage setup, with not a bad seat in the house, and Ed made everyone all around feel like a part of the show. They came on stage around 8:40, a little past their 8 o’clock start time, but they made up for it with a 32-song set that included 2 encores and some friendly banter with the crowd and a loud 16,000 strong rendition of Happy Birthday for guitarist Mike McCready on his 50th earlier in the week.
They took the stage with a bullet fast and loud ‘Go’ followed by ‘Mind your Manners’ and ‘Corduroy’, and it just got better from there. Eddie likes to engage the crowd, be it politically, or to pay tribute to someone; his emotions are worn on his sleeve for everyone to see. Be it a shout out about the mistreatment of Vets (he played a song for a family of a US Vet per the family’s request), or to honor a member of their road crew who passed earlier that day and whom they consider family. (R.I.P. Tim “Skully” Quinlan)
Pearl Jam is a great live band that loves and respects their fans, and with Ed and crew, it’s all about the music and how it makes you feel.
As a fan of the band and not having seen them since they played the Bayfront Amphitheater in the early 90’s, I was blown away. The band could of just sat on stage, played their instruments, and the audience would have provided all of the vocals. They all sang in unison, on every song, and it was brilliant.
I was thankful to be able to cover the 2nd show in Miami at the American Airlines Arena, all in part to Pearl Jam’s rep Sarah. She was super accommodating, courteous, professional and very responsive to any and all questions. If I didn’t have too many family obligations (a wife and 5 year old), I would have hit the road and covered as many shows as Sarah would have approved me for, well at least the 4 Florida shows. A big thank you to Sarah for everything she did for tropicult.com.
The Miami show on saturday was just as amazing and exciting as the night before., with the same 360-degree stage. The band took the stage a little late, but this was all on the crowd, since it’s Miami time and 8pm really means 8:52. Once the AAA was about full, they hit stage and blasted into ‘Corduroy’ followed by ‘Do the Evolution’ and ‘Mind your Manners’ the set was another 30+ songs, with 2 encores and another frenzied crowd.
Whether or not, PJ is your brand of music or not, they put on a show that is epic, and filled with every song that you know and love. Every night is something different, including the merchandise they offer. With the merch lines having a 2 plus hour wait time, that should tell you how much the fans love the band.
Every night has a specifically designed poster for the city they are playing, and the first 2 nights in Florida, were sold out of both. Good luck to the band on the rest of the tour. Thank you for finally realizing that Florida is a 4-5 city market. Come back sooner than later. Check out the gallery and enjoy the pics.
“always support live music”