Pearl Jam goes all-in to deliver a jackpot performance in Las Vegas

The ‘10 of Clubs’ turned up on the river to complete the royal flush on Thursday night, as Pearl Jam brought their Dark Matter tour to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“I’d like to make a toast to everybody that came from somewhere else to join us here in the desert,” Eddie Vedder told the energized Vegas crowd.

“But also a toast to all the locals. This is the smallest venue on the tour. It’s pretty sunny outside, but it’s pretty cozy in here. We’re really looking forward to this.”

Eddie Vedder / Pearl Jam | SWOMP Photo

Ace up their sleeves

Near the start of their set, the band mixed up the succession of the first four tracks from their new record for the first time on tour.

They placed their classic track ‘Daughter’ after the trifecta of ‘Sacred Of Fear’, ‘React, Respond’ and ‘Wreckage’ and right before ‘Dark Matter’.

After performing the album’s title track, Vedder announced that a special guest was in attendance.

“If you’re deep enough of a fan to have watched any interviews, we’ve spoken often and at high volume about the person that we worked with and that got the best out of our group,” Vedder told the crowd.

“It didn’t take long to make the record, but that’s because he worked us like fucking slaves and we couldn’t be happier. This is the first night he gets to see the tour this year, his name is Andrew Watt. We’re really lucky to have made this music together. Thank-you, Andrew.”

Back in 2023, the members of the band — Vedder, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready and Matt Cameron — retreated to Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, where they simply plugged in and played with the multi-GRAMMY-winning and platinum-selling music producer running the show.

Since 2015, Watt has been a hit-making machine, having collaborated with multiple ground-breaking artists, including: Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Ozzy Osbourne, Cardi B., Post Malone, Dua Lipa, Metallica, Stevie Wonder, Miley Cyrus, Bruno Mars, Shawn Mendes, Lana Del Rey, Brandi Carlile, Smokey Robinson, and now, Pearl Jam.

Known for his tireless energy, Watt didn’t just still and admire the new tunes he recently helped create for the band’s repertoire.

In their encore set, Gossard started strumming the familiar chords of ‘Alive’ while Watt joined the band on-stage, guitar in hand.

Watt, who toured with Vedder during his solo Earthlings tour, proceeded to wow the hyped crowd, bouncing around the stage, all with a massive smile on his face.

McCready even took a backseat, as Watt took over and absolutely shredded the guitar solo, providing his own unique spin to the Pearl Jam classic.

Mike McCready / Pearl Jam | SWOMP Photo

Sin City

In typical fashion, Vedder sprinkled in references to the city they were performing in during the concert.

While performing ‘Wishlist’ — which was highlighted beautifully and visually with a massive disco ball in the middle of the arena, a spotlight beaming onto it from the ceiling and millions of glittering lights cascading in every direction — Vedder added another verse to the song.

“I don’t need Vegas to feel lucky,” Vedder sang.

“Besides, I lost $500 playing Blackjack and I said, ‘I’m fucking out of here.’ Maybe we’ll be back tomorrow, dear. Or maybe better yet, next year.”

At another point, Vedder announced to the crowd he was going to be conducting an experiment.

“So, you’re not going to see me out gambling; you just aren’t gonna,” Vedder said, before conversing with a couple near the front of the stage.

“Alright, I’m giving you $500 bucks. Who’s the better gambler? She handles the money? That is an honest man. Here’s $500 bucks; just see if you can double it. I trust ya. If you lose it all, it was part of the experiment, and if you win any of it, we split,” Vedder added, drawing laughs and applause from the crowd.

“She’s bringing out the honest man in me… Stone, I took that money out of your backpack, Vedder added, drawing even more laughs and cheers from the audience.

In one of the more touching Vegas stories shared with the crowd, Vedder described an evening when he performed at The Pearl in Las Vegas during one of his solo runs, which happened to fall on Halloween.

“This cool thing happened because my wife and I work really hard on curing this skin disease and treating it and curing it, it’s called Epidermolysis bullosa, EB we call it,” Vedder said.

“Towards the end of the night, this woman I think dressed like a peacock or something, she came up and put a big wad of cash in my hand and said ‘if you play the song ‘Black’ I will donate this big wad of cash to EB.’ So, I said ‘oh, that’s very kind of you but I’m not playing that song on this tour, it’s Stone’s song.’”

Vedder added: “More people kept walking up the hallway with cash and some were bringing cheques. All of a sudden it was like $3,000 on the front of the stage. I thought, well, I got to fucking do it. It was very powerful to think that in Las Vegas, which you think is kind of a greedy town, that people were so giving and also because it was Las Vegas they had big wads of cash in their pockets.”

Vedder said the money went to a great cause.

“Now we’ve got some treatments for it, we’re still working on a cure and that night was part of it and it was one of the first times I’d talked about it publicly, so it sticks in my memory and I’m still grateful,” he said.

“The reason I tell that story tonight, the part that I’ve never told anyone before, that night I took it to the roulette tables… and I doubled it,” Vedder said, drawing more laughs.

“I wish, I thought about it though, I really thought about it. I’ve got a great relationship, I’ve got a great relationship with everyone in this group, we’re all together. I feel like a really lucky man and I think if I went to gamble, I’d be pushing it. I’m very happy.”

Learn more about EB at

Jeff Ament / Pearl Jam | SWOMP Photo

From 10, to 33 ⅓

Las Vegas also holds a special place in Pearl Jam lore, as a milestone show was performed in Sin City in 2000.

“We have memories, I think it was this building,” Vedder shared.

“We came here, we had a big celebration because the band was all of 10 years old. We had this big party, we rented out Liberace’s house. It seemed like the most ridiculous thing you could do.”

Vedder added: “And then Stone reminded me tonight that we hired some show girls… just to make sure it was more ridiculous and they were some of the most gorgeous men I’ve ever seen, I’d have to say. They were packing a punch, it was beautiful.”

Fast forward 20 years, to about three years ago, the 30-year celebration was much more subdued.

“The funny thing is… I think we basically just texted, ‘Hey man, how’s it going? Good job, 30 years, pretty good. You good? I’m good. Should we keep doing it? Uhhh,’” Vedder paused, drawing a massive roar from the crowd.”

“I’ll keep doing it. Fuck yeah, let’s keep doing it,” he added.

“So, here we are. Still doing it, but that’s because you’re here. We couldn’t thank-you enough everybody. Thanks for coming out all these years.”

Deep cuts & live debut

Pearl Jam fans in attendance got a hint right out of the gate that they were in for a special treat in Vegas.

After performing one of their most frequent show opening songs, ‘Sometimes’ from 1996’s No Code, the band pulled out the rare ‘Hard To Imagine’ from 2003’s B-sides compilation album Lost Dogs.

Vedder explained a bit later on that the setlist wasn’t drawn up in the typical fashion.

“I just want to let you know, this setlist was not made earlier in the day,” he said.

“It was not made yesterday, it was at four in the morning one of the last few days. So this is one of those after midnight setlists.”

Vedder also playfully teased the crowd before playing Dark Matter’s seventh track, ‘Waiting For Stevie’.

“This next song was written a little bit about Stevie Wonder,” Vedder said.

“No, no, no… this song was written a little about Stevie Nicks. No, no this song was written a little bit about a guy called Steve Gleason. Oh wait, wait, no this song, I keep forgetting, this song was written about Stevie Ray Vaughan.”

Vedder added: “No, no, no.. this song is written about the power of music and I guess includes most of those people.”

After the encore, and a quick message on the overhead projector on the screen thanking the Vegas crowd, Vedder came out to perform a solo acoustic cover of Jason Isabell’s ‘Maybe It’s Time,’ which was written for actor Bradley Cooper to perform in the 2018 film ‘A Star Is Born,’ in which he co-starred alongside Lady Gaga.

The setlist also included tour debuts of the aforementioned ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Hard To Imagine’, ‘Hail, Hail’, ‘Breakerfall’, ‘Tremor Christ’, ‘Inside Job’ and much to the delight of the crowd, ‘Breath’ from the Singles Soundtrack.

Here is the full setlist:

Doubling down

With another show still to come before the band departs Las Vegas for Los Angeles, Vedder shared gratitude to the crowd, which was electric and engaged throughout the evening.

“We’ll have to do this again sometime, but thank-you,” Vedder said.

“As individuals, as a whole, to look out here… when you’re not on the stage, none of this feels real. To be honest, even when you’re on the stage sometimes it don’t feel real. When you look out and see this many faces all getting along, all agreeing and enjoying each other’s company, listening to music that you care about, we’re just a small part of the equation, but I just want to tell you we’re very, very grateful and we love you so much. Thank-you, thank-you.”

Here are some more SWOMP photos from the performance:

Here is the show poster from the gig, plus the artist details:

Pearl Jam, X

Pearl Jam will perform their second Vegas show on Saturday, May 18, 2024, once again at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, with Seattle’s Deep Sea Diver once again providing support.

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