"It's my tenth time playing in your neck of the woods. I've got a lot of memories, but I wanna make some new ones." said Eddie Vedder to the sold out crowd inside Fort Lauderdale's Broward Center for the Performing Arts. And that is just what the 47-year old musician did, breaking down the barriers between himself and the room, sharing stories, laughing with the audience, and of course playing his ukulele. The feeling of being just one in an a packed theater of 2000-plus attendees quickly disappeared.
- Photos: Eddie Vedder at the Broward Center for Performing Arts
Dressed in his Seattle best, the usually seemingly guarded Pearl Jam frontman appeared to have a more inviting and carefree attitude. With a backdrop of brick apartments behind him, and surrounded by an eclectic mix of items including a reel-to-reel tape machine, a sticker-covered DIY drum, and an arsenal of guitars, intimacy was the vibe of the evening.
Vedder didn't hesitate to kick things off with electric energy, driving away any preconceived notion that he'd just be strumming away on a uke all night. With his electric Fender guitar, Vedder opened the show with "Throw Your Arms Around Me" by Hunters and Collectors, before going into a trio of Pearl Jam's earlier tracks, "Sometimes", "Long Road", and "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town." Not a person in the room was silent, marking the first of many sing-alongs that would happen throughout the evening.
"This is the first ever speed thrash metal ukelele song," he said.
And Eddie wasn't joking. If anyone could enthrall an audience with a tiny guitar, it's him. Starting the "ukelele" portion of the night with "Can't Keep," followed by "Sleeping by Myself" and "Without Out," the grunge-rocker proved he could stand strongly on his own as a solo act.
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Charming and humorous throughout, his banter didn't take away from his performance. Switching between electric and acoustic guitars, and ukelele, there wasn't a lull at any point. Whether it was playing a hit like "Betterman" or transporting the audience "Into the Wild." Vedder had no issue in holding the room's attention with his iconic vocals.
The 13-song encore, or rather second set, took the show to a new level with help from opener Once's Glen Hansard (whose mom was in the audience all the way from Ireland!) and surprise guest, the lovely chanteuse Chan Marshall, a.k.a. Cat Power.
But even after nearly two and a half hours, Vedder wasn't quite ready to bid the night farewell. After going through all the motions of exiting the stage, the curtain came back up to reveal Vedder and Glen Hansard dressed in lab coats, surrounded by cloud-like smoke to perform "Hard Sun." Chan Marshall couldn't stay away either, as she joined the two musicians to help bring the night home. And even then, we couldn't blame Vedder for wanting to call it a night, but he just couldn't stop himself. The crowd of dedicated fans chanted "one more song" and he answered their prayers with a fitting performance of "Tomorrow Night."
The Crowd: Beards, flannels, drunk idiots who don't know when to shut up, little kids rocking out on their parents shoulders, Glen Hansard's mom, and pro surfer Mark Richards.
Personal Bias: Eddie Vedder gives me a lady boner.
Random Detail: They handed out playbills. It was a nice touch.
Throw Your Arms Around Me
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
Sleeping By Myself
I Am Mine
You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
Reason to Believe
Tonight You Belong to Me
Rockin' in the Free World