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Pearl Jam rocks the Palace
AUBURN HILLS -- NBA teams don't usually have public parties for winning the second round of the playoffs. But Pearl Jam -- whose members are major hoops fans and who were at the Palace on Sunday to watch the Pistons dispatch the Cleveland Cavaliers -- saw fit to celebrate that achievement with its own triumphant performance in the same venue on Monday night.
"I think a congratulatory toast is in order," said frontman Eddie Vedder, swigging from his customary bottle of red wine. "I know it's harder than hell to find a job in this city, but you've certainly got a great basketball team."
Vedder also noted that he expected the Palace to become somewhat quieter "once you get another (championship) flag up there" in the rafters to dampen the sound.
Quiet was hardly in Pearl Jam's game plan on Monday, however. The Seattle quintet delivered a high-velocity, exhaustive and even exhaustive show, churning out 31 songs in two hours and 50 minutes and focusing on the harder rocking side of its repertoire while also showcasing material from its release, a politically-tinged self-titled album that debuted at No. 2 after its first week of release.
Things started on the quiet, moody note of "Long Road" but quickly accelerated through "Corduroy," "World Wide Suicide," "Severed Hand" and "Animal." Pearl Jam brought plenty of hits to the party -- "Even Flow," "Jeremy," "Alive," "Given to Fly" -- but also delighted the 12,000 Palace faithful with favorite album tracks ("State of Love and Trust," "Whipping," "Why Go" and particularly strong versions of "In Hiding" and "Indifference") and special moments, such as the tour debut of the gentle "Nothingman" and a rendition of "Porch" which Vedder said was in response to a fan sign that claimed the group hadn't played it since 1994.
"We don't believe it," he said, "but...we'll play it just in case."
Vedder also dedicated the new album's "Come Back" to "Blackhawk Cheli," known by Detroiters as the Red Wings' Chris Chelios, a former Chicago Blackhawk who watched the show from the side of the stage and even wound up with one of Vedder's wine bottles for the encores.
The band's spirit was loose and playful throughout the night, although its playing was spot-on and tight enough to let the middle section of "Rear View Mirror" turn into a spacey, psychedelic jam worthy of the Grateful Dead. Animated guitarist Mike McCready ran up a full set of grandstand stairs during his solo on "Alive," and Stone Gossard, the group's other guitarist, and Vedder enjoyed a joke about mutual mistakes on "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town."
"At times we can be a pretty (bad) band, at times we're pretty good," Vedder notes. "But you're all here and it shows you have faith in us. We appreciate that." Then, almost on cue, Gossard had guitar problems before starting "Nothingman." "How's your faith right now?" a laughing Vedder asked the crowd as the instrument was fixed.
The night's real treat, however, came for those who stayed for the end of the marathon. As the instrumentalist held a hasty on stage meeting, Vedder told the crowd that, its musical history, Detroit should be the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Then Pearl Jam cranked into the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams," a fitting end to a lengthy love fest and a great way to keep the Palace rocking on an off-night between Pistons playoff games.
Fans can download Monday night's Pearl Jam show at the Palace at the group's web site,
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