Do you know who “Floyd” is? Check out my latest feature for Gibson.com about Green Day singer and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and his love for the Gibson Les Paul Junior. While you’re at it, be sure to check out his awesome new signature guitar as well – the Billie Joe Armstrong Les Paul Junior Double Cut.
Well, what can I say? I’ve been to more than 120 concerts over the years, and Pearl Jam in Stockholm last night might just be the best show I’ve ever seen. I’ve always loved Ten since it first came out, but haven’t been so fond of their later material. But I kept hearing how Pearl Jam is a really great live band, so I thought I should give them a shot.
The band played for almost three hours, with the second (!!!) set of encores lasting for almost an hour, playing a total of thirty songs. It was Pearl Jam’s first time in Sweden in twelve years, and you could tell that they were really taken aback by the massive response they got from the crowd. Everyone was standing up for the entire concert, which is quite rare in Sweden. Eddie Vedder had actually taken the time to write down a couple of sentences in Swedish in his note book, which got a huge response. He basically said stuff like ”I can’t believe it’s been twelve years, why haven’t you called?”
What made the concert so great was the fact that the band really seemed to enjoy themselves. Bassist Jeff Ament was really in to it, and guitarist Mike McCready kept interacting with the crowd the entire concert. At one point Eddie got a basket ball from the audience that he kept dribbling around on stage during one of the band’s jams. Eddie kept drinking wine straight from the bottle throughout the show, as I’ve heard he always does, and he got quite lucid towards the second batch of encores, even pouring wine for some of the lucky people in the front row.
The setlist was perfect, and it’s the main reason why I rank this concert so high. Pearl Jam played eight out of the eleven songs on Ten, and other favorites of mine like ”State of Love and Trust,” and ”Yellow Ledbetter.” I must say that the concert also opened up my eyes to a bunch of other songs that, although I’ve always appreciated them, haven’t really gotten in to, like ”Better Man,” ”Amongst The Waves,” ”Unthought Known,” and ”Do The Evolution.”
Eddie Vedder introduced the song ”Garden” by saying that Pearl Jam played it the first time they were in Stockholm in 1992 (February 7th to be exact), at the Kool Kat Club. Eddie said that the club has since sunk and doesn’t exist anymore. I really enjoyed how the band started out the song with just Eddie singing and playing the first verse on his guitar, before the band joined in and started the song over.
A song that I was not familiar with previously but that I really liked was ”1/2 Full” from the Riot Act album. I’m just a sucker for dirty blues numbers. During the solo Eddie reflected a really bright spotlight off the pick guard on his Telecaster, and shone it on the audience, creating a really cool but simple effect that I haven’t seen done before. Check out this video of ”1/2 Full” from last night to see for yourself.
They also did a couple of covers, including The Who’s ”Love, Reign O’er Me.” You could tell that McCready was really enjoying himself, creating tons of feedback by pushing his guitar against his amps. The Victoria Williams cover ”Crazy Mary” was also really cool.
It was such a nice treat that they played the Neil Young cover, and by now Pearl Jam staple, ”Rockin’ in the Free World” as the second to last song. It is not something they do at every show, and it had everyone in the audience singing along at the top of their lungs, and made Eddie comment that Neil would be proud. At one point McCready actually traded his guitar for his camera, so he could take some pictures of the ecstatic audience. Eddie kept handing out tambourines to the audience throughout the song – if only I could have gotten my hands on one of those! The show ended with the obligatory set closer ”Yellow Ledbetter,” complete with a ”Little Wing” snippet by McCready. This song was really the icing on the cake for me, as I just love the guitar sound from McCready’s 1959 Fender Stratocaster, and it was fun to hear Eddie’s improvised lyrics to this much talked about song. These last two songs were played with the house lights on, which is always a cool way to end the show, since you get to see the entire audience. Eddie promised that it wouldn’t be another twelve years until they come back, and I’m going to take his word for it.
Note: Mike McCready joined opening act X on stage for the song ”New World.”
01. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
03. Got Some
04. Why Go
05. Amongst The Waves
07. Given To Fly
09. Even Flow
10. World Wide Suicide
12. Better Things (The Kinks cover)
13. Unthought Known
14. All Those Yesterdays
15. The Fixer
16. 1/2 Full
18. Off He Goes
19. Just Breathe
20. State Of Love And Trust
21. Do The Evolution
22. Love, Reign O’er Me (The Who cover)
Encore 2: (22:44)
25. Better Man (Save It For Later tag)
26. Crazy Mary(Victoria Williams cover)
29. Rockin’ in the Free World (Neil Young cover)
30. Yellow Ledbetter (Little Wing tag)
Note: All Those Yesterdays was played for the first time since 2010 and for the first time in Europe at all.
I never really thought I’d get the chance to see Tom Petty in concert, at least not in Sweden. But twenty years after his last visit, Petty decided to include us on his European tour. I’ve heard from many people that Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers are a fantastic live act, and sure, they were quite solid. But if you ask me, I have a feeling that it is a completely different Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers that you see when they’re touring in the States. I mean, all the songs sounded great, but it sort of felt like they were just going through the motions, playing the same set for who knows how many times in a row.
But it’s hard to fault them for their monotony since the crowd hardly returned any of the love sent out. Sure, people were cheering between songs, and sounded really excited. But aside from the über-fans up front, everyone else seemed way past their prime to bother to stand up. I think the fact that the floor was seated may have been one of the main problems why the concert never really seemed to take off.
That all being said, I still had a really good time seeing Tom Petty for the first time. The main revelations for me were what an integral part Scott Thurston’s backing vocals play in the overall sound, what an awesome guitarist Mike Campbell is, and that The Heartbreakers sound more like a heavy rock band in a live setting compared to the pop sound that Petty is known for, especially in the Fleetwood Mac cover “Oh Well.” It was really cool when The Heartbreakers would go in to extended jam sessions, with Petty looking cool playing to the crowd with a couple of Maracas.
It was cool to hear “Free Fallin’” and Petty’s musings of LA, now that I’ve been there myself. I could just picture crossing Mulholland Drive on my way down Topanga Canyon Boulevard towards Highway 1, with the Pacific glistening in the setting sun behind it.
My favorite songs of the night was the two song encore of “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” and “American Girl.” “Mary Jane” is my favorite Petty song, and it sounded really good live, I just love that guitar riff, and the harmonica. I had all but given up hope of hearing “American Girl” since Petty used to have it as his opener for the past couple of years. It was the perfect end to the concert, finishing with two real crowd pleasers, and what in my mind is the song that best personifies Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ music, which is essentially a love affair with American culture general. If I see Tom Petty in concert again, it will be in the US where his music makes more sense and gets the appreciation it deserves.
01. Listen to Her Heart
02. You Wreck Me
03. I Won’t Back Down
04. Here Comes My Girl
05. Handle with Care (Traveling Wilburys cover)
06. Good Enough
07. Oh Well (Fleetwood Mac cover)
08. Something Big
09. Don’t Come Around Here No More
10. Free Fallin’
11. It’s Good To Be King
12. Something Good Coming
13. Learning to Fly
14. Yer So Bad
15. I Should Have Known It
17. Runnin’ Down a Dream
18. Mary Jane’s Last Dance
19. American Girl
Being how this concert was held at an amusement park with access to the concert included in the regular admission price, it could have been a real disaster. I am really not a fan of free concerts, since it dilutes the audience way too much. But as luck would have it, Lenny Kravitz at Gröna Lund in Stockholm would turn out to be a great show, on par with the previous three times I’ve seen him live.
After meeting opening act Vintage Trouble’s singer Ty Taylor for a quick photo-op, we managed to squeeze our way to about 5 meters from the stage just in time for Lenny to start. Opening with “Come On Get It” from his latest album Black and White America Lenny went on playing one of the best sets I’ve seen from him. I got to hear pretty much every song I wanted to hear, my favorites being “Always on the Run,” “Fields of Joy,” “Mr. Cab Driver,” and “Believe.”
Lenny’s band sounded great as always, with a horn section that got quite a bit of room. I also really like when Lenny and guitarist Craig Ross stand with their backs against one another trading guitar licks – that’s just pure rock n’ roll. Craig’s solo in “Believe” was fantastic. I love how it builds to a crescendo. I was very happy that “Black and White America” was still in the set. In my opinion it’s Lenny’s best song since he released the album 5 fourteen years ago. I was pleased to hear “Where Are We Runnin’?” in the set. It’s great that Lenny picks songs from pretty much every album, I just wish he’d do “Supersoulfighter,” and “Live” as well.
It seemed like Lenny was having a blast, and he was quite amused when his guitar tech decided to take a ride on Gröna Lund’s Free Fall mid-song. The concert ended with a twenty minute plus version of “Let Love Rule,” probably the longest one I’ve heard him do so far. Lenny worked his way past the front row with everyone singing along to the chorus. At one point Vintage Trouble’s Ty Taylor also got to take the mic. The fact that Lenny Kravitz managed to turn a bad location in to a great concert experience proves what a talented performer he is. As I left Gröna Lund to the sound of Jimi Hendrix’ “All Along The Watchtower” playing through the PA (Kravitz always plays this after his shows) I felt excited by what a great show I’d just seen, while at the same time sending out a wish that the next Lenny Kravitz show in Stockholm will be indoors, perhaps at Cirkus, just up the street from Gröna Lund.
01. Come On Get It
02. Always on the Run
03. American Woman (The Guess Who cover)
04. It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over
05. Mr. Cab Driver
06. Instrumental Jam
07. Black And White America
08. Fields of Joy
09. Stand By My Woman
12. Rock Star City Life
13. Where Are We Runnin’?
14. Fly Away
15. Are You Gonna Go My Way