The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Ben Harper & The Relentless 7
PERTH 14.11.2009



Why Go
Gonna See My Friend
Small Town
Amongst The Waves
Even Flow
Unthought Known
Big Wave
Force of Nature
I Am Mine
The Fixer
Save You

1st encore:

Just Breathe
Red Mosquito w/Ben Harper
Love, Reign O'er Me (Townshend)
Got Some
Do The Evolution

2nd encore:

Throw Your Arms Around Me w/ Liam Finn
Given to Fly
Save It For Later
Yellow Ledbetter


No matter what your thoughts on grunge and Pearl Jam’s part in the rise of that movement in the early 90’s today in 2009 in Perth Pearl Jam are just a great Rock and Roll band, no tags no labels just Rock and Roll.

Ben Harper sings the blues

Earlier in the day Liam Finn (of Crowded House) I’m sure put in a credible performance, though to be honest we only got there for Ben Harper. Ben shows us that he’s a mean slide player, and though tonight he’s not playing any of the songs I wanted to hear we all love him. Tonight he’s in blues mode and comes across very much like a cross between early Lenny Kravitz and Robert Cray. When Eddie makes an appearance to sing ‘Under Pressure’ with the band it has the expected result – the crowd goes wild. It’s a great and well-received warm-up for the main act and the two and a half hours of Pearl Jam that are to come.

I’m a little unsure what to expect. It’s a long time since I last saw the band and even longer since I caught them on their first tour of the UK in 1992 in front of a crowd of a couple of hundred. Members Equity Stadium is packed out tonight, more people here than for either Def Leppard or the Who I’m guessing and the standing section at the front of the stage is a great idea (saves thousands of plastic chairs being trashed as they were in 2003 when Pearl Jam last played Perth). Pearl Jam isn’t a band to sit down to anyway.

Eddie Vedder loves Perth when the band takes the stage it’s clear that Perth also loves Eddie Vedder and his band. He tells us what attracts him to this part of Australia is how laid back it is, and of course the great surfing on offer. There have been sightings of Eddie down south earlier in the week and the band looks refreshed after a few days R&R in beautiful Western Australia.

Tonight’s concert has everything you want from Pearl Jam. Musically there’s out and out rockers, great sing-alongs, lighter moments, extended jams and a handful of cover versions. That Pearl Jam can put in two and a half hours of music and look like they would have played on had the stadium not turned the house lights on, is testament to a band that have always strived to give value for money. There are not too many bands these days that aren’t keen to put in their 90 minutes and get off as soon as they can. Mind you I suppose there are not too many bands that could play that long and keep you engaged throughout.

The only downer of the night is the completely inept catering for the concert and lack of facilities. There are 20 minutes queues for the ladies and the guy next to us goes off to find a beer two songs into Ben Harper’s set and arrives back just as he finishes almost an hour later. However if you want to buy a bag of chips or some other awful junk-food you wait about 30 seconds – yeah well done Member’s Equity catering-dudes!

The set kicks off with ‘Breakerfall’ and ‘Why Go’ in quick succession and the slow start I was expecting is blown away. I’m impressed already and there’s still two and a bit hours to go. ‘Small Town’ is always a winner live and ‘Even Flow’ tonight is just majestic, so much more than that track on ‘Ten’.

Mid set Eddie’s in the mood to continue to let us all know how much he likes the West, he also wants to make sure the crowd there at the front are OK. He picks out a 12 year old kid up front and as the cameras focus on him you just know that kid will have a great Monday at school.

It’s great to get some lesser played stuff here and overall the balance of new, old, classics and rarities is great. ‘Pilate’ is well received by the crowd and another rare live treat. ‘Unthought Known’ that follows one of the best of the night from the new CD and ‘Force of Nature’ another new song sounds great live.

Eddie recalls the last time the Jam were in Perth and stops to remember the successful ‘Save Ningaloo Reef’ campaign; when a bunch of activists and normal people like us managed to save a beautiful part of the West from development. That’s the sort of thing that makes these guys different, a lot of people give lip service and go into the whole “Hello Cleveland” routine but these guys actually do really care.

Getting to see ‘Garden’ live is another rare treat for the Perth crowd, which remains pretty pumped up all night long. It also the ‘high’ point as far as crowd ‘smoke-signals’ are concerned. For a no-smoking venue there are plenty of people lighting up around us. Another newie ‘The Fixer’ sound great and we have a little moment of mirth when Eddie messes up the intro to “I Am Mine’. We’re little more than half way through the night and already we’re feeling we’ve had value for money.

Eddie is in a talkative mood tonight and there’s plenty of banter between chugs from his ever-present bottle of red. Over the years Eddie has become a true rock star and the rest of the band has it seems naturally receded into the role of being just a great band. He was out at the Rosemount lat night and has some great things to say about the local music scene and name-checks a couple of local bands – ‘The Fags’ and ‘Cat Black’. It really does sound like he had a genuinely great night.

The First set of encores is a more eclectic mix than the closers to come. Ben Harper is brought out for what for me was one of the highlights of the night ‘Red Mosquito’ it’s a storming rendition of a great and underrated song. Love Reign O’er Me’ shows The Who hows it’s done and is another high point. ‘Got Some’ from the new CD wins best new song of the night..

The second set of encores is near perfect culmination in Eddie going walkabout (or maybe) ‘runabout’ in the crowd for Alive (metres away from us at one point) before calming things down with an unusual closer of ‘Yellow Ledbetter’.

A great night is had by all from the young kids and the old guys like us and the band. Perth loves Pearl Jam and the feeling is mutual. Eddie and the band have rarely sounded better. One of the gigs of the year.