Pearl Jam, famously led by their now-iconic frontman Eddie Vedder, have proven to a boast supreme longevity that their grunge contemporaries could only ever dream of. Formed back in 1990 and fronting the boom of a new genre, Pearl Jam solidified an uncompromising legacy just two years ago, releasing their eleventh studio album, Gigaton, to rapturous acclaim. As part of our ‘From The Vault’ series, here we take a trip down memory lane to find a fresh-faced band that changed the music scene back in the early 1990s.
Considering that we’re stepping back in time by 30 years, we thought we’d help refresh your memories by bringing you one of the band’s most memorable in-store appearances as Pearl Jam perform a small set at Tower Records in 1991.
1991 was a seminal year for Pearl Jam. For starters, they decided to ditch their previous name of ‘Mookie Blaylock’ and pick up their new, dirtier moniker. It would also see the band release their debut record, Ten, and gather not only critical acclaim but a swelling mass of fans utterly devoted to them.
It would mean that only a few weeks after the band’s debut LP hit the shelves they would be bringing along bus loads of fans for each and every stop on their promo runs. The event would turn usually mundane signings into a ball pit of flying hormones, tension, rock, and the odd slice of danger. By the end of the year, Pearl Jam were the hottest ticket in town.
On November 14th, Pearl Jam were set to take over another record store and this time it would be the turn of iconic New York establishment, Tower Records. Arriving fresh off the road from their tour with Red Hot Chili Peppers and Smashing Pumpkins, the performance, albeit a touch ropey at times, is a reminder of just how different Pearl Jam were in comparison to the other grunge acts of the time.
Though Eddie Vedder’s voice is not in the best of shape – something he points out by changing the lyrics in ‘Alive’ by stating: “Is something wrong she said,” he sings. “Of course there is, I have no voice he said”. However, they still manage a captivating performance. As well as that song the band also performs acoustic versions of ‘Wash’, ‘Oceans’, ‘Porch’ and remarkably a little nod to Nirvana as they play a touch of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.
The band finish their set and soon sit down to sign autographs for the patient crowd. It would be a simple task made almost impossible just a few weeks later as Pearl Jam’s fame exploded. When watching the preposterous ’90s footage, it becomes suddenly a lot clearer exactly what Pearl Jam offered their fans. It was a hefty slice of gleaming esteem.
Eddie Vedder and the band, only a handful of months into their career, and only just beginning to see the shining lights of fame, conduct themselves as aged rock stars. Humble and gracious yet knowing and assured. With their newest record due out in a few weeks we’re not sure they’ve aged a bit.
Watch below as Pearl Jam perform a fully acoustic set at Tower Records in 1991.