Pearl Jam Makes a Triumphant Return to Sacramento

Pearl Jam
Golden 1 Center, Sacramento
May 13, 2024

Photos by Paul Piazza

“I seem to recognize your face
Haunting, familiar yet
I can’t seem to place it”

“Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” -Pearl Jam

Eddie Vedder with Jeff Ament

For some reason Pearl Jam has not played Sacramento too many times over the years. In fact, it had been 24 years since they last played in California’s state capital. To be fair, there was a scheduled show two years ago, but it was cancelled due to a COVID case in the band. But the truth of the matter is that this was only the fifth time the band have played here in their existence.

Eddie Vedder

In between then and now, the band recorded their well-received album Dark Matter at Rick Rubin’s Malibu studio and they arrived for a Monday night show that had the big arena filled to capacity.

The greeting they received at Golden 1 Center evidenced that Pearl Jam remain hugely popular despite the long absence. Most in attendance seemed to be elated to have them back again, finally. And even though it was a Monday night, this crowd was fired up. They were ready for a kick ass rock show and they got one.

Eddie Vedder with Matt Cameron

The performance that evening demonstrated that the band is at the absolute peak of their game in 2024. They played a lengthy set that ran over 2.5 hours and spent much of it connecting with the audience. Frontman Eddie Vedder, who turns sixty later this year, has a unique talent for showmanship.  Vedder talked about first playing in Sacramento at the infamous punk and alternative venue called the Cattle Club near Sacramento State University 33 years ago. At that very first Sacramento show, the recently formed group  had an affinity for basketball and were calling themselves Mookie Blaylock, after the famous NBA guard. They were the openers on a bill that was headlined by Alice In Chains. Also on the bill that night were Burn Baby Burn, which which featured Kevin Seconds of 7 Seconds. The club no longer exists but the building still stands and Vedder noted that too, which was an impressive detail.

The new material from Dark Matter went over quite well, but the band dipped particularly deep into their first record, Ten on this night, playing almost 25% of the show from that record. Such numbers as “Alive,” “Evenflow” (featuring an extended behind the head guitar solo by Mike McCready), “Porch,” and “Jeremy” received the expected massive responses from the crowd. But it seemed like “Black” may have gotten the heaviest sing along. People really got into that one. There was a nearly an equal amount from Dark Matter and the majority of that new material held up pretty well.

Jeff Ament

In all, the band performed favorites from nine of their records in total and kicked off the lengthy encore with “Picture in a frame,” a Tom Waits cover that was dedicated to some close friends of theirs who reside in Sacramento and are soon to be married. They were highlighted on the video screens. The encore itself was nine songs long and lasted about an hour.

Many in the crowd seemed emotionally wrung out by the end as they exited satisfyingly dazed out the arena doors, especially considering it was a Monday night. This had been a great show that will be remembered for years to come. Possibly one of the best this arena has seen in its relatively short life span. Long time members bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Gossard were in excellent form and the band was anchored by drummer Matt Cameron, who at 61 is the elder of the group.

Cameron has been playing with Pearl Jam since 1998, splitting time with his other group Soundgardenuntil the untimely death of vocalist Chris Cornell. There was also the supergroup Temple of the Dog, which featured all the members of Pearl Jam along with Cornell and Cameron.  Ironically, many of the well known musicians in the Seattle music scene first saw Cameron in the early/mid 80’s with a band called SkinYard. He is the full time Pearl Jam drummer now.

Deep Sea Diver

Opening the show was Deep Sea Diver, a Seattle band fronted by Jessica Dobson. The band’s 2020 record Impossible Weight was voted album of the year by Seattle’s musically prestigious KEXP. Deep Sea Diver guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Jessica Dobson spent a couple of years touring as a member of The Shins earlier in her career. They went over pretty well and one can expect to hear more from them down the road.

As for Pearl Jam, now that now that they and Sacramento have gotten to know each other again, hopefully it won’t be so long again until they come around.

And as Vedder sang in the second song of the night, “Elderly woman behind the counter in a small town”…
“My God it’s been so long,
Never dreamed you’d return,
But now here you are and here I am.”


Pearl Jam

Deep Sea Diver