From Pearl Jam I make the rather simple leap to an Eddie Vedder solo performance. In October of 1992, a stellar lineup of artists gathered at Madison Square Garden to pay tribute to a living legend at The Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Celebration.
Of course, Dylan has gone on to record four studio albums since then, including three that number among his very finest work, so maybe this celebration was a bit premature. But I guess it’s never too early to tip your hat to genius. I wonder what they’ll cook up for the 50th anniversary celebration three years from now.
The concert is probably best remembered for Sinead O’Connor’s performance. She took the stage just two weeks after her controversial Pope-ripping Saturday Night Live appearance and was drowned out by boos. Unable to start the song due to the crowd reaction, she eventually belted out a few verses of Bob Marley’s ‘War’ (the protest song she had sung on SNL) and left the stage in tears, comforted in the arms of Kris Kristofferson. I remember being very pleased with Kris Kristofferson for his defense of O’Connor.
I wonder if any of the boo-ers stopped to think about the irony of them drowning out a protest singer at a friggin’ Bob Dylan concert! [Here’s a video of O’Connor’s appearance if you’re interested]
The other thing I vividly remember about this concert was Eddie Vedder’s performance. He followed Lou Reed, who had given a by-the-numbers performance of the rocker ‘Foot of Pride.’ Reed read the entire song off teleprompters positioned at the foot of the stage and really pissed me off for his failure to even learn the words of his song, let alone perform it with any feeling.
So when Eddie Vedder stepped up to the mic and belted out the classic ‘Masters of War’ from memory with his eyes alternately closed and rolled up to the ceiling, clearly feeling every word, he instantly earned my respect.