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Pearl Jam-tastic - It didn't have to be, but this was one of the best concerts of the year.

Pearl Jam-tastic - It didn't have to be, but this was one of the best concerts of the year.

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Pearl Jam-tastic - It didn't have to be, but this was one of the best concerts of the year.
Pearl Jam-tastic - It didn't have to be, but this was one of the best concerts of the year.

The following offenses were committed at Monday night's Pearl Jam show in the Adams Center.

To wit:

- Eddie Vedder did trip and nearly launch himself into the trap set, but saved himself by instead landing on a couple of monitors.

- Vedder got all mushy with a story about his 1-year-old, then said how he'll never forget the day when his baby first called him by his first name. How adorable. "Goo, goo, goo .. Eddie!"

- "Even Flow" was cranked out at approximately quarter note=456, so fast that it was barely recognizable.

- The band actually stumbled over and nearly lost the beat at least once, and stopped mid-tune to regroup.

- Security personnel were so anal that one of the yellow-shirted dudes checked my ticket and asked me to move approximately five inches to my right to make me stand squarely in front of my seat.

- A skater punk band to open? Huh?

- The Adams Center's acoustics, which are normally rank and diffuse, were instead rotten and terrible.

- I do believe I detected the odor of the Mary Jane.

That's the list. The rest? Damn, what a show.

For nearly three hours - including a full 10 encore songs - Pearl Jam rocked the Adams Center into a stupefying frenzy.

It was the best Pearl Jam concert in Missoula. Ever. And I should know. I've been to four of them.

I'll confess that I'm no PJ groupie. In my library sit "Ten" and "Yield" and that's it. But you don't need to be a raving PJ lunatic to get moved bodily by these guys, especially when they're on fire.

One thing became clear to a semi-fan like me as the show progressed: Pearl Jam's body of work has become enormous, and this band that at one time seemed so unfortunately pigeonholed into that horribly named "grunge" movement now has a stash of material that's rocking, sweet, soulful, driving, melancholy and - well, really damn good.

These are amazing musicians, no doubt about it. What's more, they don't do things on the cheap. It's one thing to give a free show for a political cause - in this case, Jon Tester's Democratic bid for the U.S. Senate. It's another thing to give a free show that's worth, at least from my point of view, more than the ticket price. (Full disclosure: While the Missoulian normally buys our tickets, we were instead given press passes because of the political nature of this event).

Yeah, PJ could have said a few nice words about Tester and played a few chart-toppers, hurried off the stage and called it a night. They're playing for free, right?

But the music kept coming, and coming, and coming. Nothing was held back, short-cutted or half-assed. The first encore, which Pearl Jam made the screaming hordes wait a full 10 minutes for, was five tunes long and included "Small Town," "Black" and the delirium-inducing "Alive."

But it wasn't over. Two more encores ensued, and nobody - not a stitch of humanity - left that place, outside the few who were drunk and combative and got a quick date with a police officer.

You'd never know, aside from looking up at the rafter seats, that the concert didn't sell out. In fact, you'd never know that you weren't seated in a 30,000-seat auditorium, considering the ear-splitting shrieks that 5,000 or so people are apparently capable of producing.

Of course you can't have a Pearl Jam concert without the politics, Democratic fund-raiser or not. Vedder didn't disappoint. Jabs at President Bush were everywhere, overt and otherwise. Vedder launched into some improvised lyrics set to "Another Brick in the Wall" as the song "Daughter" closed: "We don't need no misrepresentation/We don't need no Fox News reports/Take your bias and shove it up your asses/Don't you remember what the truth is worth?"

At least he didn't spear a picture of Conrad Burns with his mike stand, which he did to a likeness of President Bush a couple of years ago in Denver.

I wasn't there for the politics, anyway, though I imagine many were. Conrad Burns will be a formidable foe for Tester. Personally, I find it highly fascinating that Tester would choose to align himself with Pearl Jam, politically speaking, since Vedder has been such a lightning rod and symbol of positions that aren't just liberal, but outright radical.

But hey. That's politics for you. And besides, Missoula's lefties don't mind.

Near the end, Vedder, who seemed foggy-brained the entire concert during his brief monologues, singled out his friend and Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, whom he lauded for sticking to his small-town roots and generally being a nice guy.

Having interviewed Ament, I'd agree. The crowd went ape and gave him the standing ovation he deserved.

"When Jeff got a little bit of money from our band in Seattle," said Vedder, "the first thing he did was move back here." More ape-like crowd behavior.

As if Pearl Jam's enormous set and fierce energy didn't give us enough to go bats over anyway.

Reach Jamie Kelly at 523-5254 or at

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