Eddie Vedder

Eddie Vedder

More than just Ukulele Songs

It's the first night of three sold-out Brisbane shows and Glen Hansard, one part of Irish group The Frames (among other projects), arrives on stage to rather hearty applause. You know the support is a cracker when most of the crowd choose to forgo drinks at the bar for another hour to listen to the warm-up. And warm-up the crowd he does, switching between guitar, piano and ukulele, to perform a handful of tracks before closing with 'This Gift'. Hansard is a tasty entree to a special set, filling the concert hall with his commanding sound, leaving us salivating for more, sending him off with a standing ovation.

Within minutes Eddie Vedder enters the room to his own standing ovation. Not a new experience surely, but his sheepish grin displays his genuine appreciation. The set begins with 'I Am Mine', which won't be the last Pearl Jam we'll hear, 'Wishlist' and 'Can't Keep' up next. Having started the set on guitar Vedder switches to the ukulele for the latter, an instrument that inspired an entire solo album, 'Ukulele Songs'. It is also quite useful, he says, for charming the ladies. Next up is the lovely 'Without You' followed up with crowd pleaser 'Soon Forget'. It seems Vedder has not only earned the adoration of the ladies tonight, but a few blokes too, if the sprinkling of love declarations coming from the male voices in the crowd is anything to go by.

'Long Road' is introduced as a dedication to two fans whose respective grandfathers passed away recently. A touching tribute especially for those affected in the audience. Vedder provides us with more insights into his music and his life, telling a funny story about how his daughter Olivia became convinced a bear was inhabiting the studio during the recording of Into the Wild. This tale leads us into 'Far Behind' and 'Guaranteed', both off the album.

Having launched this tour fresh from headlining the Big Day Out, the Pearl Jam frontman has been working hard these past few weeks. His voice is showing signs of fatigue, replacing his usual red wine with a bright pink tonic, and general tiredness is obvious when he stretches his aching shoulders between songs. Nevertheless he powers on through a 2.5 hour set delivering more favourites with 'Porch' and 'Betterman', and popular covers like Hunters & Collectors classic 'Throw Your Arms Around Me'. Hansard returns to the stage for a number of songs, of note his own Oscar-winning 'Falling Slowly' and a raucous closing on 'Society'. The duo works well together, Vedder eager to share the load on guitar. They close the night with the entire crowd rising to their feet for a solid rendition of 'Hard Sun'.

As content fans, plenty of old ones and some newer ones, file out of the hall their wide smiles prove that nights like this are as much about the music as they are about laughter, conversation and a healthy dose of gratitude for sharing the fun times with the ones we love.

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