On Thursday night, Pearl Jam took the stage for a rousing three-hour set at the Oakland Arena in Oakland, California. This lineup of Pearl Jam, however, had never been seen before. That’s because longtime drummer Matt Cameron missed his first show since taking over the throne back in 1998.
In Cameron’s place, touring guitarist and former Red Hot Chili Peppers member Josh Klinghoffer stepped behind the kit for a number of songs while Seattle drummer and frequent collaborator of bassist Jeff Ament, Richard Stuverud, played the rest of the concert. Although they had some professionals holding down the kit, Pearl Jam also let a fan named Josh Arroyo sit in for the show’s final song, ‘Yellow Ledbetter’.
The show began with Eddie Vedder taking the stage solo to perform two covers, ‘The Needle and the Damage Done’ by Neil Young and ‘I Won’t Back Down’ by Tom Petty. As just the fifth concert on the band’s ‘Gigaton’ tour, Pearl Jam debuted a number of classic songs for their first time during this current trek Thursday night, including ‘Animal’ and their covers of ‘You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away’ by The Beatles, ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ by Neil Young, and ‘Baba O’Riley’ by The Who.
“Matt Cameron is a true artist and he’s a force of nature,” Eddie Vedder told the crowd at one point. “However, even his superhero status could not prevent him from testing positive. This damn COVID thing yesterday. We’ve been scrambling for 24 hours because after 25 months of… We were supposed to be here 25 months ago. We’ve been waiting and we’ve been waiting. Postponing wasn’t an option and for us, neither was cancelling.”
“We didn’t want to pull the plug and we couldn’t pull the plug,” Vedder continued. “We’ve got our group here, we’ve got our equipment here and, most importantly, you’re here. So, lucky for us, we have some friends, and one of our friends has already been on our team this tour — the multi-talented, multi-faceted, multi-instrumentalist playing behind the drum kit right now, Mr. Josh Klinghoffer. “
Vedder even got a solid baseball reference in, giving Klinghoffer props for being, “Like the Shohei Ohtani of rock ‘n’ roll. Let’s let the shit hit the fan and hopefully it’s good shit.”
Check out Klinghoffer playing the kit on ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’, Stuverud taking the throne for ‘Baba O’Riley’, and Arroyo blasting out ‘Yellow Ledbetter’ down below.