Photo & Perspective: Eddie Vedder Brings Ukulele Songs, Cheese, and Classics to the Pearl Jam Faithful, Friday at Benaroya Hall"/>
This post is the first in a new series in which longtime Seattle music photographer Laura Musselman provides her thoughts on what it was like to be at, and shoot, a show.
Eddie Vedder, with Glen Hansard Friday, July 15 Benaroya Hall
Friday, July 15
By Laura Musselman
Pearl Jam, and more specifically Eddie Vedder, were a huge part of my adolescence. I spent a good portion of my meager paychecks from TJ Maxx on bootlegs that I bought from people on newsgroups. My obsession also led me to buy the records that Eddie Vedder spun on Monkey Wrench Radio broadcasts, turning me on to Sleater-Kinney, Daniel Johnston, and Descendents to name a few; these bands led my natural progression toward indie rock in the late '90s-early 2000s. Falling into indie rock made me into a quieter, more secretive Pearl Jam fan, especially after leaving Wisconsin--where nearly every person I've ever met is a fan. Nowadays I mostly listen to them while singing the vocals on Rock Band, but the music still holds a big warm spot in my heart (and I still know all the words, too).
I feel a little out of place among the fans, though. While walking through the lobby of Benaroya on Friday night, I saw a girl on her cell phone with a portrait of Eddie as her background image. A fan in the nosebleeds got upgraded to a front-row seat, and spent a good long time crying, bent forward in his seat, clutching the stage and freaking out. Tons of guys wearing the shirts they just bought at the merch table were taking pictures of the marquee with their phones. The artwork for the tour featuring a surfing Eddie with his uke seemed like an inadvertent caricature and made me laugh, but everyone else definitely ate it up.
When Glen Hansard opened the night with just a mandolin and his voice, covering R.E.M.'s "Hairshirt," I nearly lost it. It was one of the most perfect covers I've ever heard, one of my favorite songs. I nearly forgot I was supposed to be taking photos. It was a beautiful moment, and a gorgeous set overall.
The show didn't exactly create the world's greatest concert photos, but I wasn't really expecting it to. I was corralled with other photographers on either side of the stage, allowed to shoot the first three songs where Vedder very simply sat on a stool, played guitar or ukelele and sang. It was simple and dark. I would have loved to shoot the encores when people were standing, dancing, singing along to "Hard Sun," and during duets with Hansard. It was a pleasure just to be there and I am lucky to have captured it, despite the restrictions. Even though it felt a little cheesy at times, I still loved every minute of it. I can't wait for a Vedder/Hansard collaborative album.