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  • Writer's pictureIgnacio Gomez

Pearl Jam – Co-op Live, Manchester, 25 June 2024

Updated: Jul 1

Okay, let’s start with the venue, as it’s new and my first time there. Traffic wasn’t too bad getting into the arena blue car park. We arrived around 6:30 and avoided most of the city centre traffic by going a bit around the outside, Waze said it was similar either way. However, the price of parking is £25 (which needs to be prebooked); they should include at least a free drink at that price. I did a quick search on noticed that Wembley was £40, so makes it look cheap, but this isn’t London.



We had seats in the General Standing areas, and it was very quick to get in - they have what looks to be very advanced machines deciding if you should be searched or not. The tickets for parking and for the concert were a bit annoying as you are nudged to download yet another one hit app (Co-op Live Arena) to download your tickets from there. Concert tickets are optional, however it’s a must for the parking ticket.

 

Walking into the new arena I had a bit of a mixed experience, everything felt new, but seems like a few things are missing or weren’t properly thought through. There was only one merchandise stand which was massively packed, however the self-service food areas and queues which looked fast moving.



Luckily, we brought our own food and had a picnic in the car before we headed in and a good thing we did! Again, we are in Manchester and I’m sure the locals must be fuming at paying £3.20 for a small 330ml can of water (they don’t charge extra if it’s sparkling), also most beer is almost £9. There is even a co-op store inside with self-checkout, obviously you don’t get the Co-op prices. I usually don’t have a problem paying for food, but it really does annoy me when they sell you low quality food at inflated prices.

 

As we were two hours away from home, we got a soft drink and sparkling water and headed in to see the support band The Murder Capital. Walking into the arena seemed impressive, it still doesn’t feel quite finished as some cables were dangling from the roof to the sound mixing area. The general standing area is massive, it’s always an advantage being 6’3” in these gigs as most people won’t block you. Looking to the sides you can see the first section, which seem to be the VIP seats (VIP only in price as they seemed normal seats, but you get charged 2-4x the cost of a general ticket) which were only a about 11 rows deep. Then there are the corporate boxes which as usual are empty until the main gig starts. This crowd is having canapés, mojitos and margaritas in another exclusive area while getting a foot massage as they are in pain from standing more than 5 minutes. The top section (and pardon my Americanism) I’ll call the rafters, was about twice the size of the first level. They actually seem like the best value if you struggle to see the stage from the General Standing areas, as you at least get to see the gig and will be sitting down in an uncomfortable seat during the concert.



The Murder Capital kick things off with Feeling Fades and immediately I don’t think they were the right support band for Pearl Jam (unless of course you want a really terrible band to make you look good). They don’t have a similar style of music, we're just too heavy and dark for the general Pearl Jam crowd. I’m sure if you did a Venn diagram, there is some cross over, but not much. There were a few fans of them who seemed to enjoy them, however my friend and I tried to give them a chance with the rest of the setlist. The only tune I enjoyed was Words Lost Meaning, I can’t find it on Apple Music or Spotify, however there is a good YouTube (see below).



They also didn’t really speak to the crowd and were missing that charisma that draws attention to a support band when most of the crowd doesn’t know your songs. I think they also felt the lack of connection with the crowd as before their last song Don’t Cling To Life, they just said, “Who is ready for Pearl Jam” and once they were done with the song, they just walked off. They were on from 7:30 till 8:15.



The countdown to Pearl Jam starts and we are tempted to get another drink but decide against it as we had a good spot right in front of the sound mixer area and didn’t want to pay another £3.20 for 330ml can of water.



At 8:45 they start teasing the crowd with turning the light on and off. I thought this would be annoying if it was going to last 15 minutes, but to my very big surprise the started early at 8:50. Although I’ve been following them since 1991, this is only my 3rd time seeing Pearl Jam (back to back at Hyde Park two years ago) and 4thseeing Eddie Vedder (saw him at the Royal Albert Hall a few months ago and I still get a tear in my eye when I remember his daughter Olivia singing My Father’s Daughter to him).

 

Pearl Jam kick things off with a lesser known song Of The Girl from their 2000 album Binaural. Mike McCready starts hitting the strings to what is a very cool song that makes you feel like your strutting down the street without a care in the world, the crowd is overjoyed. As they were early and I don’t know if they caught the technical team by surprise, you only see them as shadows as this song begins, there are no special image effects, there aren’t even shown on the screen. If it was a mistake, a great one it was as most people put away their phones and just enjoyed the tune.



Next up is Present Tense a slow starting song that towards the end starts getting into gear to warm up the crowd. Eddie Vedder is wearing at #34 Chicago Bears jersey as what seems to be a tribute to an uncle that passed away. That number belonged to a very loved American Football running back called Walter Payton, who was THE Chicago sport legend before Michael Jordan. Eddie Vedder was just born up the road from Chicago in Evanston, on what I believe is the most beautiful day of the year, 23rd of December.

 

The first classic from Ten, Why Go is next and it’s the first time Eddie’s vocal cords are tested. Something seems a bit off, it’s like he’s already tired from singing and tries to get the crowd singing the high notes, which the Mancunian crowd to with absolute pleasure. Soon after Eddie explains that someone from the Dublin concert gave him the sniffles. He didn’t want to cancel, so asked the crowd to help him during the rest of the concert. The Mancunian crowd first were a bit confused as they just paid £160 for general standing area, but after a nudge from Eddie, they hollered for him to keep going.



There were a group in the crowd who had a sign saying that they were in a car crash before, but still made it to the concert, Eddie felt that his “sniffles” couldn’t compare to that, so he would fight on.

 

During the concert The Smiths T-shirt wearing McCready helps Eddie out with some absolute killer solos to give him a bit of a breather. He did two memorable solos during the night, one with his teeth and another lying on his back!!!

 

We come to another Pearl Jam classic, their longest title Elderly Woman Behind the Counter In A Small Town. This is where you could really tell that the crowd was going to support him through the whole concert. From the standing area to the rafters everyone was helping Eddie sing, an absolutely marvellous moment where you get over 26,000 people singing their hearts out.

 

The two songs from their latest album Dark Matter come on with Scared Of Fear and React, Respond. If you haven’t listened to it, it’s a fabulous album, probably their best in a long time. Their new album gets a total of four songs, Wreckage and Dark Matter being the other two. Dark Matter seems to be the strongest of the four and my guess is that it will become a regular song during their tours as the crowd loves it and were at their rowdiest.

 

There is a funny but serious interaction as he starts points to the crowd and says that they seem like tough guys. Seems like he then remembers he is in Europe where the gun laws aren’t as relaxed as in the US. Loves the fact that here you don’t need a gun to be a tough guy and then he kicks off with Immortality followed up by another classic from the Ten album, Even Flow.



After Even Flow we come to the start of the power of the concert where they mix old and new. They play some great classics like Daughter, Once and Porch, along with Wreckage and Dark Matter from their new album. During these set of songs, I notice that they crowd hasn’t stopped singing their hearts out to help Eddie. Even during the yells, Eddie points to the crowd and we are all in.

 

After Porch, the band go out and prepare for the encore set. Which feels great as we need a bit of a breather, not all of us can sing for 2 hours straight without water. As I mentioned, the Co-op doesn’t seemed quite finished, but during the encore set, they play Do The Evolution which is a visually great moment as everybody is in a state of trans looking at the video in the background. It just works really well with the song. Eddie was about to start a song, but the band wanted to play Black, which Eddie agreed to and it kicked off a start to the end of the evening. After the song, Eddie notices a bit of an argument in the front row and calms them down. He even sees that a lot of them are thirsty and gets his bottle of wine to turn wine into water, the jokes that he can’t do it the other way around and pours water to about a dozen people in the front rows and jokes about being the evening bartender and offering G&Ts.



After the long interaction, we heard the chords to Alive, the crowd goes absolutely wild. It takes me back to my teenage years in one of the best year of my life growing up in Tijuana. I had just been forced out of an all-boys school as I was never very academic and started at this new school that had just opened called “Colegio Juan Bosco” (John Bosco School). We were pretty much a collection of all the kids who were kicked out of the schools in Tijuana and the head basically took us in to try to knock some sense into us (which for the most part worked!). With this song I always remember Daniel, Luis, Ivan, Rodolfo, Orlando, Salim, Carlos, Miriam and Celina. I could write a book about that year, and it always brings a smile to my face. I only went one year to that school, but I still maintain contact with most of the guys there. With Alive I always relive a lot of the moments during that year of my life, and I sang the song with pleasure along with the other 26,000. It’s funny how the same thing will mean different things to different people.



My friend whom I went to the concert with was a bit nervous about the drive back as he needed to work early (so did I!). So right after that perfect moment, we decided to leave to beat the exit rush and get back to Leamington in two hours. As we started to walk out F*ckin’ Up the Neil Young cover started playing and we had to pull ourselves out. Afterwords I saw they also played Yellow Ledbetter, which was OK as I’ve heard it live before. I would have thrown a fit if they’d play Man Of The Hour, which is a beautiful song from the Big Fish soundtrack. They have only played it like eight times in the past 10 years according to Setlist.fm, so chances are very slim I’ll ever get to hear it. The song reminds me of my dad who sadly passed away almost two years ago. There is always hope, I might get to hear it live one day and that will also bring lots of memories.



Pearl Jam are a band that doesn’t age. The energy they transmit to the crowd is staggering, even if you’re not a fan, you can just feel it. Also, the thing I really love about a Pearl Jam concert is that you have a better chance of winning the lottery than guessing the setlist. Having a career that spans more than 30 years, there is a lot of quality material they can pick from.

 

Editor – A second piece from the marvellous Ignacio - I don't really love Pearl Jam, but I will blast their new album as I head to the gym shortly, this makes me think I should see them live at some point. I do love Even Flow!


I saw The Murder Capital when they were first gigging back in 2018 at The Great Escape and thought they were brilliant, very like a Dublin band from the 90s called Whipping Boy, I've seen them more recently and couldn't get passed the fact their singer now looks like Eoin McLove from Father Ted - once seen, never forgotten...I think they have lost momentum to Fontaines DC, who are killing it and have knocked out three albums in the time The Murder Capital have produced one. Hope they can come back with something great.


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