An evening with Pearl Jam at Wrigley

By Eric Ladd Explore Big Sky Publisher/ Photos by Jessie Wiese

For baseball fans, the ivy walls of Wrigley Field are sacred. For music fans, witnessing a Pearl Jam concert is a spiritual experience. The perfect storm of Chicago hometown boy Eddie Vedder (pictured below with trademark bottle of red wine) playing there yielded Wrigley’s fastest sold-out concert ever.

July 19, Pearl Jam played a show to the windy city with songs from its new album, Lighting Bolt. A dynamic lightshow ensued, with energy befitting of this legendary Seattle rock band. Fans gathered in the sweltering heat to witness history, and Ernie Banks, legendary Hall-of-Fame Cubs player, showed up to join the band in a sing-along of “All the Way”.

As fans entered Wrigley Field, high fives where thrown out like Cracker Jacks in the stands. While the idea of holding concerts is new to Wrigley, it’s used to die-hard and dedicated fans. Beer sales were strong, T-shirts sold out and scalping sites were rumored to have sold tickets for more than $2,000 apiece.

At 8 p.m., the main act took the stage, and lead-man Vedder was nearly speechless as he waved to the crowd and shared childhood dreams of playing on these “sacred grounds.” Irony arrived seven songs into the show when the band announced fans needed to take cover with wind, rain and lightning blowing in from the west.

“Guess we should have thought twice about naming our new album Lightning Bolt,” Vedder joked. After a two-hour delay, Pearl Jam returned to the stage and played 23 songs. Fans were on their feet screaming for more as Wrigley’s officials turned on the house lights, ending the show at 2 a.m.

Band co-founder, Jeff Ament (below) played a bass guitar logoed with a bison and wore a lighting bolt T-shirt, befitting of this Montana native. His understated approach to the driving music brought an element of rocking grace to the Wrigley show.

Pearl Jam continues to builds its now 23-year legacy, while keeping the focus on humble appreciation for its fans and its roots. A portion of proceeds from the Wrigley concert generated a $130,000 donation to the South Chicago Arts Center.

Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy Foundation, which supports community efforts such as health, the environment, arts and education and social change, continues to be a focus for the band. With more than two decades together and 60 million albums sold, it feels like Pearl Jam is entering a new era, one that attracts three generations of fans worldwide.

“What’s not to love?” said one dedicated fan after the show. “Mike McCready had face-melting guitar solos, Eddie surfed the crowd, the band kicked off its new album with a lightning show, and I got home at 4 a.m. It’ll make a great bootleg!”

Pearl Jam recently announced Lightning Bolt will go on sale Oct. 14, with preorders available at pearljam.com. Earlier this month, the band also announced a 24-date North American tour with tickets going on sale July 27.

Pearl Jam’s North American Tour – For more information, visit pearljam.com

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