With the sole exception of a single song at a benefit concert last year in Seattle, Pearl Jam hadn’t taken the stage in over three years until Saturday night.
The band’s set at Asbury Park, New Jersey’s Sea. Hear. Now Festival turned out to be notable for a number of other reasons, even though a rumored guest appearance by Bruce Springsteen never materialized. Among the things that the seaside crowd of 30,000 did get to witness were:
- The first show with new touring guitarist and backing singer, former Red Hot Chili Pepper Josh Klinghoffer.
- Eddie Vedder’s acoustic rendition of “My City of Ruins,” Springsteen’s song about Asbury Park, aided by a chorus of four local singers he’d gathered on short notice to back him.
- Vedder offering the crowd his opinion on how Springsteen’s DUI arrest, while parked off the road with his motorcycle last November, should’ve been handled. Vedder thinks the cops “instead of a summons to appear in court…should have given him a police escort home” or maybe “put him back of the police car and driven him home.” Vedder concluded, “You’d get to go to Bruce’s home, and I’ll bet on the way he tells you a pretty good story.”
- The live debuts of five songs: “Quick Escape,” “Seven O’Clock,” “Never Destination,” “Superblood Wolfmoon” and “Take the Long Way.”
- The Rolling Stones’ “Waiting on a Friend” tagged onto the end of “Wishlist” to honor the late Stones drummer Charlie Watts.
- Guest shots by photographer and festival co-organizer Danny Clinch on harmonica for “Red Mosquito” and Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye on the encore closer, Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.