Eddie Vedder thrills crowd in 1st El Paso show; says he will return because venue was great

EL PASO, Texas - (Nov. 2012 story)

Editor's note: The following is a review of Eddie Vedder's solo concert Wednesday, Nov. 7 at the Plaza Theatre.

Looks like another famous musician has fallen in love with El Paso.

For years Dave Koz has dropped by the Sun City for his holiday concerts. He would gush about the city during his performances, even joking about buying a home here. Beck had a memorable impromptu performance at the Black Market in 2006 and a mesmerizing performance at the Abraham Chavez Theatre in 2008.

On Wednesday night it was Eddie Vedder's turn to heap praise on El Paso - especially the Plaza Theatre. It was his first time playing in El Paso and it was 17 years since he played in the area when the band played in Las Cruces with The Ramones opening.

In his first performance ever in El Paso, Vedder was very talkative during a 31-song, 2-1/2-hour set.

He lamented having not played in El Paso - especially the Plaza Theatre before.

Early on during the show he mentioned that "There was an article in the local paper it said 'Eddie Vedder and his happy ukulele.' So I just wanna prove them wrong and play a really, really sad song." (Editor's Note: It happened to be at article written by me for What's Up)

The crowd laughed and he started playing "Broken Heart."

He played songs from both of his solo albums, some Pearl Jam songs, a handful of covers and even a song he had written the day of the concert.

A fan who waited near Vedder's tour bus was able to meet the singer before the show and gave Vedder a Les Paul ukulele - an instrument Vedder had never seen before.

Vedder wrote a song, as yet untitled, using the electric instrument and played it during the concert. One set of lyrics talked about rising again after you have already risen.

Vedder played most of the show solo but joined on a few songs by opener Glen Hansard. He also if there were any female singers in the audience that would like to sing backing vocals on "Tonight You Belong to Me."

Melissa Ibarra, who happened to be sitting in my row, was chosen. After spending a few minutes backstage preparing, she joined Vedder and nailed the song.

Vedder had fun with the Plaza Theatre and some of its unique features, such as the lights that illuminate the plants on the side of the venue, as well as the "stars" on the ceiling.

The Pearl Jam frontman learned about the Plaza's history and how it was almost demolished in the mid-80s. He said if he ever met those who saved it, he would thank them profusely.

Other than the music, a couple of unique aspects about the night were the El Paso-specific merchandise. The poster looked like a military leader smoking a joint, while the picture on the T-shirt looked like an old time postcard.

He enjoyed the night so much, he said he would be back and play the Plaza again.

Fans are definitely hoping it won't be another 17 year wait.

There's a remote chance the concert could one day see the light of day as an official bootleg release. The show's audio was recorded by the sound engineer and there was also a camcorder set up recording the whole show. When a planned live Sirius XM broadcast of Vedder's Phoenix show didn't happen because of technical problems, His Las Vegas show from just a few days earlier was aired.

To read a story, including the complete setlist, on the El Paso show by a Pearl Jam staffer, click on the link here.

(Nov. 2012 story)

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