Pearl Jam takes over the BBC for a fiery performance of ‘Alive’ back in 1992
Pearl Jam was an integral part of the grunge movement that came from the streets of Seattle and took over the world. With this fiery performance of ‘Alive’ at the BBC, the band marked a truly pivotal moment in the takeover.
Their debut jaunt to Europe in February ’92 was one not to forget and sparked a special relationship that is still going strong almost 30 years later with the rockers now playing bigger stadiums across the Atlantic than in their home country.
The Seattle band only got the chance to play one show on British soil before they performed at the BBC and gave viewers at home the shock of their lives, playing a devastatingly ferocious performance of ‘Alive’ that was the perfect way of announcing their arrival.
The night before at the Esplanade Club in Southend saw the now-seasoned festival headliners warmed up for their big television performances by providing 300 fans with a gig that will live forever in their memories. “Hey, we’re gonna do a TV show tomorrow and it might even be live,” Vedder told the audience near the end. “Is there anyone we should tell to fuck off? We might as well just do it right here.”
Following their appearance on BBC’s Late Show the next day, Pearl Jam were no longer the unknown quantity they were just 24 hours prior. As their debut album Ten still hadn’t been released in the UK yet, the only people in the know had heard it but their television debut ended them being America’s best-kept secret.
Those early tours were synonymous for Pearl Jam’s eccentric on-stage antics which saw frontman Eddie Vedder which was so energetic and full-on. The band left nothing behind before exiting the stage and their charismatic leader would more often than not treat himself to a spot of stage diving as well as crowd surfing.
“It’s hard for us to watch early performances, even though that’s when people think we were on fire and young. Playing music for as long as I had been playing music and then getting a shot at making a record and at having an audience and stuff. It’s just like an untamed force and a different kind of energy,” Vedder later admitted.
“I find it kind of hard to watch those early performances because it’s so just fucking, semi-testosterone-fueled or whatever. But it didn’t come from jock mentality. It came from just being let out of the gates. And Jeff and Stone, their horse was just about to be put down when it was put in the race. And I was coming from the same place. So when they finally let us out of the gates, we didn’t have a smooth, galvanized, streamlined gate. We were just rocking all over the place,” the vocalist added.
Even though there was no audience in the studio for Vedder to play up to, Pearl Jam certainly took their opportunity to perform in front of potentially millions of people at home with both hands and put every fibre of their being into this performance of ‘Alive‘.