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Concert Review: Pearl Jam Packs a Punch at American Airlines Arena

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam at AmericanAirlines Arena. Photo: Vladimir Lorenzo @photobyvlad
Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam at AmericanAirlines Arena. Photo: Vladimir Lorenzo @photobyvlad

Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam played all their hit songs spanning over 10 studio albums on Saturday night at the American Airlines Arena – even turning around and playing for the fans with seats in back of the stage. The three hour concert, with the longest break being 10 minutes half-way through, started promptly at 8:20 p.m. and opened with “Corduroy,” from their 1994 album, Vitalogy.

The Seattle grunge band played two back-to-back concerts in South Florida – their North American tour kicked off the previous night at the BB&T center in Sunrise, with Vedder wearing a Donald Trump mask, mocking him, during the Grammy winning song, “Do the Evolution.”


More than half of the upcoming shows in their 25-stop April to August tour are already sold out; albeit from a few patches of unoccupied seats, Friday and Saturday’s shows nearly met that status.

Though Pearl Jam has been performing live for 25 years, the last time they played in Miami was two decades ago and fans let them know they were missed, matching the band’s impressive and continuous energy throughout the show.

No stranger to current and ongoing political and environmental news, Vedder connected with fans on multiple issues, including sea level rise and war veterans.

“I hear this place will be covered with water up until the third floor,” said the singer about the arena, “but I hear your governor has it all under control,” he remarked sarcastically as a loud “Boooo,” filled the venue.

Pearl Jam covered the Pink Floyd song, “Comfortably Numb,” written by Roger Waters, on Saturday. Vedder remarked that the last time he saw Pink Floyd play was 16 years ago, in Florida, and expressed his outrage of how those who return from war are treated when they return home.

“There are more veterans in Florida than anywhere else in the U.S.” said Vedder, “the government has failed to reward them for such incredible selflessness.”

The audience sang along when old favorites like “Daughter,” and “Even Flow” played early on in their 30 set song-list on Saturday. High energy songs like “Black,” and “Alive,” were saved for the end of the show, with the fist-pumping fans showing no signs of wavering in their energy.

While many bands with a newly released album can go through annoying lengths to promote it, suffocating audience ears with unfamiliar ballads while only gracing them with a few memorable hits, Pearl Jam did the opposite.

Yes, they played songs from their most recent album Lightning Bolt, which features longer song-times, mainly about the lead singer’s feelings on getting older and mortality, but they spaced it out properly, with a ratio of one newer song per four familiar or classic ones. 

With over 60 million albums sold worldwide, Vedder finds time to advocate for charitable causes and at Saturday’s performance, he shed light on a debilitating disease, called epidermolysis bullosa, or EB. There’s still no cure for the condition in which the skin lacks a critical protein that holds the layers of skin together, causing a lifetime of pain with blistering and open wounds, starting in early childhood. Vedder thanked a patron at Saturday’s concert who wrote him a check for $10,000 for the EB Research Partnership.

Halfway through the concert, Vedder performed a solo acoustic set, reminiscent of MTV’s Unplugged series, complete with low hanging orange glass lights, almost making one forget that over 18,000 people were in the same room. He dedicated the song, “Just Breathe,” to his close friend who just lost his wife to breast cancer.

“Yes, I understand that every life must end,” he sang. “As we sit alone, I know someday we must go. Oh, I’m a lucky man, to count on both hands the one I love. Some folks just have one, others, they’ve got none. Stay with me… let’s just breathe.”

He also played the ukulele during the song, “Sleeping by Myself,” off the Lightning Bolt album, in his solo acoustic set. Guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard didn’t disappoint with riffs carrying over to every eardrum in high energy songs like “Once” and “Garden,” from their debut 1991 album, Ten

The band concluded with “Rockin’ In the Free World,” but not before bringing Mark Zupan, captain of the U.S. Wheelchair Rugby Team, on stage. He became quadriplegic over 20 years ago after being thrown from the back of a pickup truck.

“Last time we played here, a guy in a wheelchair crowd-surfed 50 yards to the stage,” said Vedder. “I think he’s here tonight.”

Along with his two buddies, Zupan was given a tambourine by the band to shake during the final song, which he enthusiastically banged against his knee before throwing it to the crowd.

Pearl Jam plays in Tampa at the Amalie Arena on Monday night (April 11) then at the Jacksonville Veterans Arena on Wednesday (April 13). They’ll headline the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Bonnaroo as well as play at Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago. A complete list of their tour dates can be found at:

Notable: Before the concert, Pearl Jam visited with the Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh.


Pear Jam Set List

AmericanAirlines Arena

April 9, 2016 – Miami, FL


Do the Evolution

Mind Your Manners

Save You




Even Flow


Daughter (with ‘It’s OK’ tag)



Tremor Christ



State of Love and Trust



Good Woman

(Cat Power cover) (Ed solo)(Pearl Jam live debut)

Just Breathe

Sleeping By Myself (Eddie Vedder song)

Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd cover)



Given to Fly


Encore 2:

Soldier of Love (Arthur Alexander cover)

Happy Birthday (Mildred J. Hill cover)

Spin the Black Circle



Rockin’ in the Free World (Neil Young cover)