Written by Chad Hodges
Apr 03, 2003 at 08:00 PM
File photo of Pearl Jam by: Samuel BarkerFor the first time in ten years, Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder were back in Oklahoma. With a near sellout crowd it was apparent that the sooner state was eager to once again rock with the members of Pearl Jam.Moments after the lights dimmed Eddie led the boys in Long Road. Besides being a personal favorite of mine, it really set the mood for the night. Like so many other Pearl Jam fans, I have wished for so long to see them tour again.

One of the more interesting moments was seeing them perform Grievance. The song was rocking and no one was seated, but it was ironic to hear Vedder singing “I pledge my grievance to the flag” and then look into the crowd and see American flags scattered throughout the audience. It was one of the unforgettable moments of the night.

The band followed up with a short tribute to the OKC fans by doing an Oklahoma improvisation, followed by Corduroy & Save You, which were nothing short of amazing.

The crowd ignited as the beginning chords to Corduroy rang out and the energy continued to rise. It was at the end of Save You that Eddie took a few moments to address the crowd with Pearl Jam’s stand on the war. He told them that they very much support our troops and wish each of them a safe return. He explained that the previous show\’s incidents were blown entirely out of proportion. He said the media reported, “24 people left because they were upset about an Anti-Bush administration remark.” In the bands defense he told us “You know you could have written that story differently and said 11,792 people cheered and applauded at what the singer said.”

Eddie further explained, “How could we not be for the military, look at this haircut.” He went on to emphasize the importance of protests and public pressure on politicians and the government “just so they will do a better job.”

This wasn’t the only excitement of the night however, Mike McCready had some technical difficulties and Eddie kept the crowd in the moment leading them in Happy Birthday for his brother, Christopher. It was amazing to hear over 10,000 people singing Happy Birthday. Still waiting on Mike to get things fixed, Eddie pulled out his electric uke and the boys took us into Driftin’. It was awesome, you don’t get the opportunity to hear that very often and it was a definite treat.

Then, surprising the entire crowd, they pulled out another rarity, Deep, and the crowd loved it. Everyone was on their feet and at times you couldn’t even hear Vedder because of the crowd singing along.

The highlight of the night, Daughter, came during the first encore. During the song Eddie stopped singing and asked the crowd if they were ready to exercise some freedom of speech. He told the crowd they didn’t have to sing if they didn’t want to, they had “freedom of silence” also, he said. He informed the crowd of the recent death of Edwin Starr, the original writer of the song War, and then they broke into War. It was awesome to hear the crowd, “What is it good for, absolutely nothing.” It was a truly memorable moment for any concertgoer.

The band later went into the second encore for the night. The first of the two remaining songs was Alive, which totally described how the crowd was feeling at that moment. They were going crazy and the energy on the stage was almost contagious. Then closing the show was Yellow Ledbetter. It too was fantastic and a perfect song to close on.

They left me wanting more. It was such an awesome concert, and I would, without a doubt, see them again. The energy displayed by the band for the entire show was amazing. This was one show that any true music lover would appreciate. That’s just my opinion however, but according to Eddie, I do have the freedom of speech.