Eddie Vedder – Soldier Of Love (Godfather Records GR 716)

Soldier Of Love (Godfather Records GR 716)

Bridge School Benefit Concert, 25th Bridge School Benefit, Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA – October 22nd, 2011

(57:54):  Intro / Don’t Cry No Tears / You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away / Don’t Cry No Tears / Rise / Without You / Tonight You Belong To Me / Just Breathe / Porch / Sleepless Nights.

Bridge School Benefit Concert, 25th Bridge School Benefit, Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA. October 23rd 2011

Intro / Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town / Last Kiss / I Am A Patriot / Society / Tonight You Belong To Me / Sleepless Nights / Don’t Cry No Tears.

The Godfathers annual release from the Bridge Benefit Concerts is here and, to be fair, they couldn’t choose a much better act to go to than Eddie Vedder. In my previous Pearl Jam review I stated that Eddie had a voice like “concrete and rubble” and could be chosen as one of the finest, most authentic voices in music today. He’s also a chap who, despite sounding like he’d like to hunt you down & wouldn’t flinch at whipping away your knee-caps also was born with one of the biggest hearts of gold hence his yearly returns ( This will be the 10th ) to the benefit.

This time around he is joined on stage by some of his fellow players in the music biz as opposed to his band. These luminaries include Régine Chassagne from Arcade Fire, ‘Loser’ singer Beck & long time friend & mentor Neil Young. 

This recording is a very, very close audience recording that suffers a tiny bit from chatty crowd noise parts but this is only usually during instrumental passages so it doesn’t affect Eddies singing in anyway. The thing that you might notice is that the show seems to have been taped by exactly the same taper as he seems to mention at the second set the songs that Vedder didn’t play the previous night & his companions voices sound familiar.  

The set begins with a spoken word introduction for Vedder. Once he appears he introduces his first song – a Neil Young Cover – a “Neil has so many ( songs) he can’t possibly play all of ’em.”. An acoustic version of “Don’t Cry No Tears” flubs after 30 seconds & rather than regain his composure with it Eddie decides that he’s going to play something else instead & it’s another 60’s big hitter that he leaps upon, launching wordlessly in to a cover of the Beatles “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”. Eddie lets this float in to a free-for-all audience participation event ( and who in their right mind could resist a Beatles sing-a-long? ) A sweet harp solo towards the end gives the track a polished Young-ian vibe. 

We then leap back to that Neil Young song again for a second chance. Being a Neil track & a little less known than a Beatles tune makes it no less a given to be sung along to & a smaller portion of the crowd take the lead in vocalizing & harmonizing along. THIS version swoops along without fault & deserves it’s appreciation at the end. 

The follow up is a Vedder original ‘Rise’ from the soundtrack to “Into The Wild”. A song played purely on the mandolin that Vedder has seemingly only played as Neil and Pegi asked if he would bring his uke along. The next song ( ‘Without You’ ) continues in the same vein. Delicately played with a delicious descending chord line. 

Eddie then calls along his first guest Regine Chassagne for a rendition of the Laurence Welk pend song “Tonight, You Belong To Me”. Regine’s input is brief & only stands as a sideline harmony to Eddie’s lead. As thoughtful as the cover is then it could only be a favorite of Vedder’s as his register stretches to reach it’s notes and so, mercifully, it’s a short rendition. 

Two Pearl Jam tracks are up next. The first is the petal delicate “Just Breathe” from Pearl Jam’s 9th album ‘Back Spacer’. This 

“Porch” has been played acoustically many times before but sounds no less menacing for the change. Indeed, a few fans recognise it from it’s opening chords. From its spanish guitar beginnings, it builds and builds in to a beautiful fury. Hinged on Vedders voice it becomes almost irresistible not to find yourself stepping back & letting it just wash over you. 

The set ends with another cover & another guest appearance. The Bryant song, most famously covered by Gram Parsons “Sleepless Nights”. Beck joins Eddie for an intimate wander through this country ballad. Once again with the guest vocalist they’re there as a brittle support to Vedder’s own voice. Beck really doesn’t add much to it at all and really, Eddie would have stolen it all by singing it alone. 

The second of the sets is much more cover laden featuring only one Pearl Jam original ( A song that the band played at last years appearance ) “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town”. Eddie precedes this with a cute story about last night’s flub of Neil’s “Don’t Cry No Tears” before playing the heart of his song. It’s a perfect opener as it warms Eddie’s vocals up splendidly. 

“Last Kiss”, a Wayne Cochran cover, is tonight’s dedication to Eddie’s friend in the stalls, Maricor, and is described as her favorite. “I Am A Patriot” is the next cover, dedicated to the ‘99%ers’. The audience are told that they’ll guess the title as the song unfolds and once again, as they take on the message, lap it up. 

Jerry Hannan joins Eddie on stage for a rendition of Hannan’s “Society”. It’s not the first time the friends have paired up over this song and it shows as Jerry takes a bigger part in the song ( Whether this is because it’s Hannan’s song or it has been rehearsed a little more than the rest is either or but it sounds a little more pronounced than the other covers.)

The two original covers performed last night are pretty much unchanged. Régine’s vocals are just a little louder tonight but Beck is still a little less obvious than he could be. The presentation is kind of ‘been there, done that’ too – as the tracks were performed last night, it’s not new & so, without hesitation, commotion or fanfare the pair are waved on stage & waved off rather brusquely.

‘Uncle Neil’ joins us for tonight’s final track. This is a real duet though as Neil’s voice swings around Eddie’s so more is made of the occurrence. A neat, little harp solo drops itself in there too. This being an all acoustic event ( usually ) it doesn’t burn on all cylinders but glows a little brighter than the rest.  

It’s all a very welcome package once again from the Don. Surprising, if sometimes underwhelming duets aside, Eddie Vedder really makes a meal of his appearances at the Bridge Benefit concerts. I, for one, await what he puts on for us next year as this is a very enjoyable hours listening.     

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