6 things we learned from seeing Pearl Jam this week

Stamina, singing drums and selfies
Stamina, singing drums and selfies (Image credit: Joby Sessions)

Earlier this week Rhythm was part of a capacity crowd that was packed into Leeds First Direct Arena to see an absolute masterclass from Matt Cameron and Pearl Jam. We were wowed by the performance, but we also learned a thing or two along the way. Here's what we took away from the show.

Matt Cameron has stamina to burn

Matt Cameron powered Pearl Jam through an epic three-and-a-half-hour set. Yes, three and a half hours. Or 36 songs, if you prefer. And come on - some of these tunes are serious workouts. You can't motor through the near-punk rock fury of Mind Your Manners or the energy-charged Do The Evolution and not break into a sweat, right?

Well, Cameron did just that, managing to get to the end of this mammoth performance looking like he was ready to do it all again. Seriously impressive.

Cameron's Yamaha kit sounds incredible

Given that he had a trio of guitars, bass, keys and more to contend with, the clarity of Cameron's Yamaha Oak Custom kit was staggering. The wood-hopped thing sang all night long.

Want to know more about Matt's kit? Then check this kit tour we filmed with his tech Neil Hundt back at a 2012 Pearl Jam show.

He is the master gig switcher

On Friday Cameron shifted gears (and time signatures) by returning to the Soundgarden fold. In front of tens of thousands of punters at Hyde Park, the drummer slipped back into the Chris Cornell-led Seattle heroes - having taken a break to concentrate on Pearl Jam commitments - seamlessly. And then he went and did the same earlier this week as he flitted back to Pearl Jam without the merest hint of a join showing.

Why Cameron is out with Pearl Jam

Questions had been asked as to why Cameron had plumped to prioritise Pearl Jam over Soundgarden - he joined the former in 1998, a year after Soundgarden's split. Well, all became clear this week.

While Soundgarden remain most definitely one hell of a rock beast, to a man, Pearl Jam are at the absolute top of their game. What's more, they are out on the road packing enormo domes on the back of their strongest album of the 21st Century.

Pearl Jam have an incredible back catalogue

Yes, Lightning Bolt is a cracker of an album, but that is, of course, the tip of a Titanic sinking-sized iceberg, as we saw this week. Fans at Leeds were treated to classics from across the band's 20-plus years: Even Flow, Once, Given To Fly, Black and scores more were powered out.

Then there's the smattering of deeper cuts that were aired as well - Fatal, Ghost, Setting Forth and more - and they even honoured their host city by blasting out a trio of The Who anthems.

You should never get caught on your phone at a Pearl Jam gig

OK, we round off on a note completely unrelated to Matt Cameron, but if you're off to a Pearl Jam gig any time soon you need to know this - don't get caught gawping at your phone by Eddie Vedder! Vedder spotted one such fan infatuated by their mobile early on at the show, and preceded to get said phone on stage, and keep it there for just about the entire gig.

On the plus side, owner of said phone did get it back replete with a handful of Vedder selfies.

Rich Chamberlain

Rich is a teacher, one time Rhythm staff writer and experienced freelance journalist who has interviewed countless revered musicians, engineers, producers and stars for the our world-leading music making portfolio, including such titles as Rhythm, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, and MusicRadar. His victims include such luminaries as Ice T, Mark Guilani and Jamie Oliver (the drumming one).