Experience 10: Eddie Vedder and Glen Hansard at The Hammersmith Apollo

Having had the pain of missing out on seeing Bon Iver back in February due to the gig being cancelled, seeing my mid-late teenage hero and inspiration, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam was a pretty good alternative / replacement to complete my experiences and indeed complete the 40 ways of celebrating being 40 as a whole. It’s my birthday this Sunday 11 June, so I completed the whole thing with just 5 days to spare, woo hoo and phew!

Anticipation was high and it felt like a beautiful thing after recent events in the UK to be part of a really beautiful shared experience.

Glen Hansard opened for Eddie, which was beautiful and powerful (and that was just the opening 2 songs, including Frames favourite ‘Revelate’ being played with huge gusto, force and passion. Glen was at his storytelling best, including him telling the tale of The Frames playing Hammersmith Apollo back in 1993 at the invitation of non other than Bob Dylan, who they amazingly met in a rehearsal space in Dublin. Dylan liked them and their sound that he called them the next lunch time from London and invited them to open a show that evening! It was a great and very beautiful set and set us up so well for the arrival of Eddie Vedder. It was wonderful that so many people were there for it and listened with such respect and delight.

And so, just on 9pm, The main man Eddie Vedder emerged onto the stage in a very understated way. From the get go however, the performance, stage set and energy was anything but understated. Electric Guitar in hand the set began in a powerful way and it was initially all about the songs and the music. However as well as being in fine playing and singing form it wasn’t that long before Eddie took the plunge and started talking and sharing stories.

The set list was epic in range and number of songs, including a beautiful Beatles cover with a string quartet from The Netherlands. The Ukulele Anthem was pure comedy and a beautiful moment where he gave away the instrument at the end of the song to a young girl who was with her Dad.

Porch was also a real highlight for sound and a massive sing along, similar to Betterman, and having hoped in my wish list for ‘Elderly Women’, He played it and it sure sounded and felt good.

The Encore, like the set as a whole, was epic and great in length, and reached a very powerful and emotional high with Vedder talking about the painful loss of his great friend and ‘brother’ Chris Cornell. It was a very profound moment, and the silence in the room, out of respect and resonance with what He was sharing was profound and beautiful.

I thought that had reached an emotional high for me, and then the string quartet re-emerged and along with Glen Hansard they all played the most stunning, powerful and utterly beautiful version of ‘Falling Slowly‘ from the soundtrack to Once, which Hansard of course originally played on.

The gig ended with a powerful 3 guitar sound fest with Hansard continuing and lots of vocals and sound with Rockin in the Free World and Hard Sun. A remarkable gig and a fabulous way to close out the whole adventure of celebrating being 40 in 40 ways!

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