First impressions are everything. Eddie Vedder appeared onstage dressed in gray slacks, an olive drab, Che Guevara style short sleeved button up shirt with a sharp collar, and a T-shirt beneath that. When the singer appeared onstage it was to a standing ovation; not the last of these for the night.
Right from the get-go, many of the die-hard fans began screaming things like “I Love You Eddie!” and “I Need You Eddie!” to which the singer sort of scoffed at one point asking “Where were you when I needed you?” He then went on to admit, “…that’s when I found the ukulele,” and “of course I was hard to find.” His musings on the subject continue when he remarked that it ‘would have been very strange if you’d have found me when I needed you.’
His onstage contraptions had some use. Even though the stuffed animal bat he had onstage was more for aesthetics than for actual function, everything else wound up being used. He had a reel-to-reel as part of his stage dressings and this actually was used more than once. The first time Vedder broke it out was when he used the reel-to-reel to offer ocean sound effects. Later on the reel was used to overdub his vocal track multiple times. I also saw him turn the reel-to-reel off at one point so it must have been turned on for some reason.
Vedder also paid homage to the Beacon Theatre. It’s wonderfully ornate carvings and its steel rigging. Vedder remarked, “years ago I would have climbed the s#*t out of this place.” When he was egged on by the audience, he raised an eyebrow; “the night is young.”
For his own part the singer felt right at home in this room full of strangers. He called the roaring masses, “erudite, aristocratic, thoroughly modern and sophistocated New York City audience,” which won him roars of applause.
The space felt very warm and intimate. I had a hard time conjuring something as lavish and clunky as the Tony Awards having been held in the same space only a few days prior. Eddie Vedder drew us all in and made us his extended family for the night. Yes, it was cool when Neil Finn appeared from nowhere and yes it was great seeing he, Vedder, and Glen Hansard playing rock and roll onstage. But the real connection on this night was with Eddie. Even for the other musicians onstage; we were all playing up to him; pleading for his acceptance.
As I left the theatre I thought that the balance Eddie had struck had been just right. And with that I had a hard time imagining anyone but this one guy peddling about on his stool with his lab-coat wearing guitar techs, fellow musicians and his arsenal of ukuleles.