Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder. It’s hard to imagine the two sharing the same air back in the Year That Grunge Broke, when all things Seattle and flannel were being marketed to impressionable suburban kids as loud, parent-infuriating, and, of course, somehow “alternative.” As Vedder’s Pearl Jam ages gracefully into rockers-emeritus status, though, and the Boss maintains his hard-working working-class-hero influence on new generations of earnestly entertaining young performers, the two seem as natural a pairing as Vedder and Neil Young, as Springsteen and Dylan or Orbison.
Springsteen and his E Street Band brought Vedder to the stage two straight nights this weekend at Wrigley Field in Chicago, along with another politically active ’90s veteran, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello. While Morello’s guest appearances came scattered throughout both evenings, including on “The Ghost of Tom Joad” (which Rage memorably covered), Vedder helped out on just a handful of songs. On Friday night, Vedder featured on “Atlantic City,” and, with Morello, on both “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” and “Twist and Shout.” On Saturday, Vedder joined on “My Hometown,” “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” and, again with Morello, on “American Land.”
Vedder must be getting used to playing second fiddle. The previous weekend, Pearl Jam played behind Jay-Z on a version of “99 Problems.” As Hidden Track notes, Vedder, a native of Chicago’s neighboring Evanston, Illinois, first sang “My Hometown” with Springsteen and the E Street Band on September 26, 2002, at Chicago’s United Center, so these two have already long recognized a kinship. And, apropos of the Occupy-style discontent on Springsteen’s POTUS-approved latest album, they’re both alternatives of sorts, after all.
Check out footage of “Atlantic City,” “My Hometown,” and “Darkness at the Edge of Town” below, and visit long-running Bruce fansite Backstreets.com for the full set lists.