Eddie Vedder Celebrates the ‘Better Man’ on Election Night

| - November 7, 2012

"The night went on, and it soon became clear that neither Vedder or the audience wanted it to end"

About halfway through Eddie Vedder’s show at Albuquerque’s Kiva Auditorium last night, a voice rose from the crowd with the news everyone had been waiting for: “Obama won!!”

Visibly relieved, Vedder turned the rest of the 2.5-hour show, which had begun with an understated version of "I Am a Patriot," into a celebration. “Maybe we should just stop the show and bring out 10 cases of champagne,” he joked.

And with that, the near-sold-out show took on the blissed-out vibe of an evangelical tent revival, buzzing with a kinetic energy born of equal parts elation and relief. People hugged each other. They jumped up and down. They helpfully filled in the blanks when Vedder searched for the right word during his political rants, like “Keystone,” the name of a aproposed pipeline that would bring oil from tar sands in Canada to Houston. (“If you f*** up that aquifer, you’re not going to get that back,” he said, echoing concerns that a spill from the pipeline could foul the Ogallala aquifer, which underlies much of the Midwest and parts of New Mexico and Texas).

After fishing Emile Hirsch from the audience, who starred in the film “Into the Wild,” and taking a puff from the actor’s cigarette (Hirsch had lit up on stage after Vedder suggested he “sit by the fire”), Vedder lurched into “Guaranteed,” a song he wrote for the film.  The lyrics took on a new meaning on election night, as Vedder’s show evolved from rock concert to political rally.  “I’ve got my indignation, but I’m pure in all my thoughts,” he sang, with Hirsch looking on from a stool on the stage, cigarette still in hand and a Corona by his feet.

Later, Vedder dedicated “Soon Forget,” a Pearl Jam song, to “one of the candidates.” There was no question the candidate in question was the former CEO of Bain Capital. “He's lying dead clutching benjamins, never put the money down,” he sang. “He's stiffening, we're all whistling” -- here Vedder whistled for added emphasis -- “a man we'll soon forget.”

Vedder lamented the copious amounts of money spent on the presidential campaign: “Four to six billion dollars were spent between the two candidates,” he said. “That’s got to change.”

In a moment of grace, Vedder acknowledged the few Mitt Romney supporters in the crowd, commending them at the end of the show for putting up with the Obama love-fest.

“For those still here who are on the other side, thanks for staying,” he said. “That’s honorable. It’s not easy. It shows your love of music.”

Then again, anyone coming to one of his shows probably knows what they’re in for, he added.

The night went on, and it soon became clear that neither Vedder or the audience wanted it to end. Vedder did not one, not two, but three encores, bringing opener and fellow passion junkie Glen Hansard out for a few numbers, including “Society” and “Sleepless Nights” from last year’s "Ukelele Songs" album, featuring exquisite harmonies from Hansard, as well as the Irishman’s own “Falling Slowly.”

Finally, around 11:30, after holding an impromptu vote for what songs to close with and whipping up another wave of blue frenzy with Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World," Vedder called it a night.

“Be good," he said. "We have a lot of work to do.”