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Photograph by Lance Mercer
Shoulda Known Vedder: Pearl Jam's frontman played an epic show last Saturday night, including a song he wrote about Santa Cruz earlier that day.

We Love You, Too, Man

Eddie Vedder's Santa Cruz concert was a lovefest.

By Garrett Wheeler

Eddie Vedder might move to Santa Cruz. After his show Saturday, it was readily apparent that the iconic rock star could very well be the next transplant to pull up stakes and head to town.

"The Pacifc Northwest is nice," Vedder explained, alluding to his home in the Seattle area, "but it's a little soggy. Santa Cruz, man--it's nice." Wonder if locals would still call him a tranny?

Vedder, whose outspoken liberal politics and equally renowned love for surfing would make him a perfect candidate for relocating to our oceanside hamlet, played to a sold-out crowd of nearly 2,000 at the Civic Auditorium. Dressed in his usual flannel attire and shaggy anti-haircut, Vedder stayed seated as he ran through a setlist that included songs from his Into the Wild soundtrack, a few Pearl Jam favorites, some covers and a handful of lesser-known tunes including the darling of the night, "Pulling Into Santa Cruz." Introducing the song, Vedder announced he'd forgone his plans to surf earlier in the day and instead written a number inspired by his short time in Santa Cruz. The bluesy folk song spoke of Neil Young, the redwoods and of course, the ocean: "I can feel the lifting of my blues," he crooned, "pulling into Santa Cruz." Needless to say, the audience was ecstatic.

The night's opener, Liam Finn, set the mood with the experimental pop-rock sounds of his new solo release, I'll be Lightning. Together with vocalist Eliza-Jane Barnes, Finn created some intriguing textures using layering techniques and a looping effects pedal. The New Zealand songwriter is known for fronting the band Betchadupa.

Vedder's set opened with a few obscure Pearl Jam songs including the ominous ballad "Dead Man," which Vedder originally wrote for the film Dead Man Walking. Though the tune never made it into the movie, the slow and somber melody is one of Vedder's most poignant. After "Dead Man," Vedder shifted gears to play a handful of songs that did make the cut for the Into the Wild soundtrack, swapping between guitar, mandolin and ukulele. After proving himself adept at all three, Vedder continued the set with a few tales of life on the road (including a room-service misunderstanding that had the crowd howling) before delving into a gritty rendition of Dylan's "Forever Young." Vedder's attempt to give the song ample significance was emphasized by his request to have the lights turned out in order to "get a message to you."

As he sat playing in the darkness, the words of Bob Dylan seemed to take on a new power as Vedder's rock-star aura faded into small-town sensibility.

See you around town, Eddie.

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