It is safe to say that Eddie Vedder headlined the Innings Festival in Tempe, AZ on March 3. Vedder fronts one of the most successful bands in rock history, Pearl Jam. This was the second year for the festival that blended America’s two favorite pastimes, music and baseball. This has proven to be a successful combination for the Lollapalooza producers. It has already been announced that there will be a third year for the festival in 2020.
More than 25,000 fans flocked to the two-day event. Even Vedder made a surprise appearance at the demonstration tent on Sunday afternoon to pay respects to the baseball legends doing interviews and demonstrations. It is well known that Vedder is a Chicago Bulls, Chicago Cubs, and Chicago Bears fan.
1) He’s the most captivating performers in rock
Vedder delivers magic during his shows. The media has pushed videos of him singing Jason Isbell’s “Maybe It’s Time” written for A Star Is Born during the festival. Isbell responded on Twitter with “Holy shit Eddie Vedder sang my Bradley Cooper song in his set tonight. That is by far the strangest sentence I’ve ever composed but it’s certainly a huge honor. I was 12 when “Ten” came out and by god I learned how to play every song on it.”
Bradley Cooper revealed in a Rolling Stone interview that he leaned on Vedder for insight into the rock star persona when scripting the Maine character, asking “9,000 questions” of the Pearl Jam singer.’ It seems that imitation is the highest forms of flattery.
He played the ukulele, banjo as well as rhythm acoustic guitar as masterfully as well as singing. He has a Townshend approach to playing his acoustic guitar that goes back to his early years learning to play guitar listening to “Tommy.” He managed to execute several windmill motions at the end of his final song along with the classic “Vedder leap.”
2) Vedder turned an arena into an intimate performance
The stage was set up with battered suitcases covered in decals, a stool, and an old reel-to-reel tape deck much like a home music studio. The video screens projected his image in black and white that added a feeling of nostalgia. As he looked across the field, he could see 12,000 or more fans anxiously anticipating his every note sung and played.
He was greeted with overwhelming ovations from the crowd. He seemed to take this in his stride as he sat down and proceeded to strap on his acoustic guitar and performed Warren Zevon’s “Keep Me in Your Heart.”
Vedder momentarily forgot the lyrics to Pearl Jam’s “I Am Mine” and he reacts, “I f*cked up. This is strange because I didn’t even smoke pot today.” The crowd roared with applause and as he continued with the song.
3) One of the most unique voices in rock
A solo, acoustic show can make or break a performers reputation as a singer in show business. Vedder has one of the most powerful baritone voices in rock with a rich, pleasing, vibrato. His voice has been compared to Jim Morrison with a growl by the media.
Rolling Stone has rated Vedder as the seventh “Best Lead Singers of
All Time.” His voice did not disappoint.
4) Vedder is one of the most personable performers today
Performing solo seems to bring Vedder’s personality to the forefront. He took time out to teach the fans a ukulele lesson by teaching the chords to The Beatles’ song “Something.” He explained the advantages of playing the song with a ukulele. “It’s good (for people) with small hands.”
Vedder lives to interact with the fans. There was a special energy that was driving the show. He managed to transform the thousands of fans into the largest chorus group in the land. That was his magic.
5) A set list that could please anyone’s taste
The set was naturally heavy with Pearl Jam songs, but some of the best moments came from his cover songs. Early in the set he performed “Wallflowers” as a tribute to the late Tom Petty.
It was obvious that The Beatles have a special place in Vedder’s heart when he performed “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” “Something,” and George Harrison’s “Isn’t It a Pity.”
Bruce Springsteen’s “Open All Night” was given special treatment. The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” was a show-stopper. For a complete set list, click here.
Vedder’s appearance at the Innings festival will resonate for a very long time. Earlier during the festival, there were outstanding performances from Dorothy, The Baseball Project, Incubus, Shakey Graves, Band of Horses, G.Love & Special Sauce, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Liz Phair and many more. Check out the photos above.