"No hyperbole, I think this is our best work" – Eddie Vedder claims Pearl Jam raised the bar on new album Dark Matter, but their 2024 tour ticket prices are soaring too

 Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam perform onstage at Madison Square Garden on September 11, 2022 in New York City
(Image credit: hoto by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for PJ)

If the title track is a sign of things to come, Pearl Jam are firing on all cylinders on forthcoming album Dark Matter – out on 19 April. Whether it's working with uber fan/producer Andrew Watt or a general sense that they need to reclaim some of their old calling cards, Eddie Vedder and the band sound urgent and hungry on the new single.

Guitarist Mike McCready follows through on his preview of the album he gave us last year with his spotlight guitar solo that raises the intensity through the outro like a firebrand, and Matt Cameron moves into the Soundgarden intensity and meters that will delight fans. There are even touches of Pearl Jam's second album Vs about Vedder's chorus and the rhythmic syncopation on a song coming on like a furious indictment of injustice. Quite a universal theme, eh.


“I’m getting chills, because I have good memories. We’re still looking for ways to communicate," Vedder told an invited audience at LA's Troubadour venue earlier this month. We’re at this time in our lives when you could do it or you could not do it, but we still care about putting something out there that is meaningful and we hopefully think is our best work. No hyperbole, I think this is our best work.”

Bandmate, bassist Jeff Ament, was equally effusive about Dark Matter: “What Ed said about getting us in a room at this point, we felt like we were about to make a really important record," he said to the Troubadour audience. "A lot of that had to do with the atmosphere Andrew set up. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of our history, not only as a band and how we wrote songs, but as players. He could pinpoint things we did on old songs to the point where I was like, ‘What the fuck is he talking about?’ 

"His excitement was contagious," added Ament. "He’s a force. I just want to say thanks for keeping us on track. I couldn’t be prouder of us as a band. I feel so grateful for the fans, but mostly for my brothers and these people I’ve made music with.”

As a Pearl Jam fan who always endeavoured to see them at least once on their UK dates, I don't think I can afford to see Pearl Jam live anymore

It all bodes very well for the forthcoming  US and UK tour dates the band have plotted for 2024, but the rub is significant. The prices for tickets to see them have soared since their last European run. And I don't say that lightly – as a PJ fan who always endeavoured to see them at least once on their UK dates, I don't think I can afford to see Pearl Jam live anymore.

We've already written about how and why the costs of touring have soared, especially for bands playing venues like Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London and the – not even opened yet – Manchester AO Arena. Freight, tour bus hire, insurance – it's all gone up post-COVID significantly. Even so, the increase being reported for Pearl Jam's tickets is surprisingly high to me as a fan, and reflective of the kind of worrying trend we're seeing with some other acts. But not all – as a comparison, tickets for Foo Fighters 2024 stadium tour in June 2024 were priced between £84.40 for standing and between £56.25-£106.80 for seated. 

That's a lot less than the prices we're now seeing for Pearl Jam's 2024 UK tour dates in July. 

Pearl Jam

Screengrabs of pricing for Ten Club ticket reserrvations – the Pearl Jam fan club has been offered the first access to buy tickets for the band's 2024 Europe and US tour.  (Image credit: Future)

A circa £90 ticket a fan would have paid for Pearl Jam's  2022 Hyde Park gigs – that also featured an afternoon of acts on two stages including the Pixies and Johnny Marr – now falls in stark contrast to the £157.75 (+£2.75 handling fee per transaction) per ticket for reserving a standing or seating ticket via the band's Ten Club when the band played the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium that Guns N' Roses visited in July 2022.

Manchester is even higher: £160.50 (+£2.50 handling fee per transaction)

Ten Club provides the only way to secure the earliest access to tickets, with a few thousand of the fans applying for standing ticket reservations even getting access to the 'Reserved' area. I'm assuming this refers to the 'golden circle' Ten Club-only area nearest to the front. 

For that kind of access at the front of the stage, the premium price starts to look less steep. Except a standing ticket isn't even guaranteed – let alone one in a reserved area. You could pay £160 and be allocated a ticket sat far back on the left or right side of the venue – not so good. A Ten Club members' likelihood to getting that better access is then dependent on how long they've been a paid-up fan club member. But what about the general sale? 

I don't know what number I had in my head for a ticket price, but it certainly wasn't this high

Ten Club prices are usually reflective of the general onsale prices that come later. Ticketmaster is handling these sales through a kind of lottery system where registered users indicate the show they'd like to attend and wait to see if they're selected to be offered tickets to buy when the time comes. 

Demand is very high for Pearl Jam – they play less dates now, but in bigger venues on tour and their unique setlists every night have earned them a justified reputation as a very special band to see – they really are one of the great live rock bands of our time. 

I don't know what number I had in my head for a ticket price, but it certainly wasn't this high. When I saw Tool at the Resorts Arena in Birmingham (seated and not very close to the stage) in 2022 it was £87.50 (inc fees), and I remember feeling after transport costs I was nearing to an uncomfortable place for me in terms of costs. Contrary to what some people may assume, music writers (especially those outside London like me) are not showered in guestlist invitations to big shows. Or maybe I'm just not very well-liked… 

In Pearl Jam's defence, their own 2022 dates had already been postponed a couple of times due to the pandemic. So fans in the UK were essentially paying 2020 prices when the Hyde Park make-up dates were announced. The band has also set out the ways in which it's trying to making pricing clearer and scalping very difficult (in the US at least) for their 2024 tour.

Detailing the arrangements I mentioned above, the band's press release for the album and tour stated that tickets would only be available via two methods:

"1. A Ten Club members-only presale will be held through Ticketmaster Request for eligible members. Only paid Ten Club members active as of Monday, February 12 are eligible to participate in this presale. More info at pearljam.com

"2. Fans can register for a chance to participate in the Dark Matter World Tour 2024 registration sale at shops.ticketmasterpartners.com/pearl-jam by Sunday, February 18 at 11:59 PM local time for Europe, UK, Australia and New Zealand shows and by Sunday, February 18 at 11:59 pm PT for North America shows. This will be the only way for fans to participate in the onsale. Registration does not guarantee access to the sale. 

"The tour will use all-in pricing across all North America, Europe and UK shows to ensure the ticket price listed is the full out-of-pocket price inclusive of fees."

For those looking to sell tickets for a profit once the shows sell out – and they will sell out – Pearl Jam has news for North American resellers:

"For fans in North America who can’t use their tickets, Pearl Jam and Ticketmaster will offer a Fan-to-Fan Face Value Ticket Exchange beginning at a later date to give fans the best chance to buy tickets at face value," it states. "To help protect the Exchange, Pearl Jam has also chosen to make tickets for this tour mobile only and restricted from transfer. This applies to all shows except those in Illinois and New York where non-transferability is prohibited by law. You must have a valid bank account or debit card within the country of the event(s) in order to sell through the Fan-to-Fan Face Value Ticket Exchange."

This is a positive step – keeping tickets in fans' hands, but with no European steps set out things could be bleaker this side of the Atlantic. But the key issue here is more the face value cost - something the Cure's Robert Smith publically took Ticketmaster to task on last year ahead of the band's US tour, successfully lowering the costs of some tickets, in addition to getting some refunds on fees he called "unduly high". Some Cure tickets were sold as low as $20 face value. 

With fans on the Pearl Jam official forum posting confirmations of over €660 for two tickets to see the band on some Europan dates, I'm left wondering just how we got to such a costly place so fast. 

I'm conscious of sounding like an old man shouting at an icloud here but back in 2000, I paid £17.50 to see Pearl Jam at the Cardiff International Arena on their Binaural tour… it seems almost a fantasy era now. Prices go up over time – we all know this, but the rises have really leaped in recent years, making the concept of inflation just an absurd idea. The £47 I just paid for a Jason Isbell ticket in Bristol – with his rig of high-end gear shipped over from the US – seems like an absolute bargain now. 

Pearl Jam

Some of my Pearl Jam tickets from past shows – they show an unsurprising rise in prices over the years but the leap for the 2024 tour is jarring   (Image credit: Future)

How many young musicians are missing out on the inspiration of seeing such iconic bands because they simply can't afford it?

So I'll probably be sitting out this one - though honestly I'm writing that with gritted teeth because I thought it would be a no-brainer to at least try for tickets. I will enjoy the new album and my memories of seeing the band in places like the Astoria and Shepherds Bush Empire in London. I know I've been fortunate – and I never take it for granted that I've even got to interview members of the band – but how many people who haven't seen Pearl Jam live are now completely priced out? Add in a train ticket, a budget hotel and your food and drink… UK fans' costs to see Pearl Jam in their own country are heading towards the cost of a weekend city break in mainland Europe! Seeing some established, successful bands is becoming something for the financially privileged. 

How many young musicians are missing out on the inspiration of seeing such iconic bands because they simply can't afford it? Gigs can plant a seed in the musicians of tomorrow - we know because so many of today's greats talk about life-changing performances they saw when they were young. There doesn't even seem to be such a thing as cheap seats for these gigs for more people to have access to that kind of moment. 

Those who can afford it will get to see one of the best live rock bands out there right now – one of the last Seattle greats still out there. And who knows, with the band's UK dates sitting very close to the 2024 Glastonbury festival I may even be able to vicariously enjoy a set via the BBC's live coverage with a beer in a paper cup in my hand, but it will be with a tinge of sadness.

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.