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Arts & Music

Review: Vedder goes solo at Ruth Eckerd Hall

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Published:   |   Updated: March 14, 2013 at 03:07 AM

Eddie Vedder doesn't need theatrics to entertain his fans.

The veteran rock star, who sprang from the anti-production, anti-glamour and essentially anti-rock star world of 1990s grunge, has always seemed more interested in letting his music be the main attraction.

His solo tour, which wraps up with a final date in Clearwater tonight, hasn't changed that attitude.

The Pearl Jam frontman took the stage with a sparse setup at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Monday for the first of back-to-back nights of sold-out concerts at the 2,180-seat auditorium.

Alone on a stool, surrounded by little more than a couple guitars, a propped-open suitcase and a reel-to-reel tape player, Vedder meandered through a beautiful set that included songs from his solo catalog, his soundtrack work, Trent Reznor, Tom Petty and Beatles covers and a small sprinkling of Pearl Jam hits.

Despite the large venue, Vedder put on an intimate-feeling show, helped by his young daughters toddling out on stage in nightgowns to hand over a ukulele and give him kisses on the cheek. The ban on cell phone cameras didn't hurt either, as fans were forced to watch the show directly, and not through their glowing phone screens, as seems to have become the (annoying) custom at concerts lately.

Vedder's signature back-of-the-throat baritone boomed through the auditorium as he sang for more than two hours, making at least a dozen changes between different acoustic and electric guitars and ukuleles.

The concert was absolutely captivating for hard-core Vedder fans, and good overall, but some less-enthralled members of the audience did become restless—and downright rude—at points, shouting during Vedder's long interludes to discuss politics, the fiscal cliff and veteran suicide rates.   

Others were no doubt turned off by the show's lack of mainstream hits, though by the time Vedder stepped back onto the fog-filled stage to play a rousing encore duet of "Hard Sun" with opener Glen Hansard, all seemed forgiven.  

As far as his health, Vedder seemed to be feeling fine. He postponed the Clearwater concerts in May because of nerve damage he suffered in an injury to his arm, but he appeared to be feeling great Monday, triumphantly flexing his bicep to show it.

Vedder wraps up his tour today with the final date at Ruth Eckerd before playing a star-studded Hurricane Sandy benefit show at New York City's Madison Square Garden alongside Bon Jovi, Kanye West, Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl and others on Dec. 12.

SETLIST

"Don't Be Shy" (Yusuf Islam)

"Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town"

"Can't Keep"

"Sleeping by Myself"

"Without You"

"Light Today"

"I'm One"

"Hurt" (Reznor)

"Deadman"

"Just Breathe"

"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" (Lennon, McCartney)

"Setting Forth"

"No Ceiling"

"Guaranteed"

"Rise"

"Long Nights" with Glen Hansard

"Immortality"

"Lukin" (with "Slow Lukin" intro)

"Porch"

"Unthought Known"

"Loud Uke"

"I Won't Back Down" (Petty, Lynne)

"Society" with Glen Hansard (Hannan)

"Sleepless Nights" with Glen Hansard (Bryant, Bryant)

"This Land Is Your Land" with Glen Hansard (Guthrie)

"Falling Slowly" with Glen Hansard (Hansard, Irglová)

"The End"

"Arc"

ENCORE

"Hard Sun" with Glen Hansard

"Tomorrow Night" (Traditional)

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