Concert Review: Pearl Jam Hits Pittsburgh Like A Lightning Bolt

Concert review: Michael McDonald, RSO set crowd to dancing

Featuring Grammy award-winning Rebirth Brass Band and Birminghams local band Fisher Green (Media is invited to attend!) Where: Vulcan Park and Museum 1701 Valley View Drive, Birmingham, AL 35209 Contact: Cristina M. Almanza Director of Marketing and PR #Vulcanaftertunes #VisitVulcan Birmingham, AL – On Sunday,October 13, Vulcan Park and Museum continues its Vulcan AfterTunes concert series featuring Grammy award-winning Rebirth Brass Band and Birminghams local band Fisher Green. Enjoy cool tunes, fresh brews and sweet views on Sunday afternoons with your favorite cast iron statue, Vulcan. Chill out in Birminghams backyard and end your week with some of the areas best music while witnessing spectacular views of Birminghams city skyline. The annual three-part concert series features local and national singer/songwriter acts often heard on Birmingham Mountain Radio. Grab your lawn chairs and blankets and bring the whole family out to relax and play under the shadow of Vulcan! Concerts will begin at 3 p.m. on select Sundays – October 13 and October 27. Admission is $15 general admission, $7.50 for Vulcan Members and free for children 12 and under. Ticket price includes live music and admission to Vulcans Observation Tower and Museum. Tickets and seating are first-come, first-served.

Eddie Vedder leads Pearl Jam at Consol Energy Center Friday night.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Michael McDonalds pipes were often at the top of the charts first as a standout backing voice with Steely Dan, then breaking out with the Doobie Brothers before he went into commercial high gear with his solo career. On Friday night at Salem Civic Center, McDonald showed that his chops and style have held up strongly. The Roanoke Symphony Orchestra showed its versatility, blending in seamlessly, gorgeously, sometimes powerfully behind hits from McDonald, Motown and more. McDonald, his six-piece band and the RSO put on a party for the symphonys 60th anniversary pops kickoff. Dozens in the crowd of 2,452 capacity was about 3,800 had risen to dance and clap along by the end of about 80 minutes. McDonalds own songs were at the fore. His bassist, Tommy Sims, took the James Ingram part on Yah Mo B There. The orchestras horns punched through Sweet Freedom. And by the time McDonald hit the last vocal notes of I Keep Forgetting, it was clear that his instrument was undamaged by time. The early crowd favorite was his cover of Marvin Gayes Heard It Through The Grapevine, part of McDonalds first hit album of Motown covers, from 2003. It got folks dancing and drew the biggest applause at least until he broke out the Doobie Brothers Minute By Minute. More Motown covers, including Aint No Mountain High Enough and Aint Nothing Like The Real Thing, gave backing vocalist Drea Rhenee Merritt a chance to show her substantial skill. Conductor David Stewart Wiley led the strings through lush versions of You Dont Know Me, from Ray Charles Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, and the Gerry Goffin/Carole King cover, Hey Girl. McDonald repeatedly complimented Wiley, the symphony and concertmaster Akemi Takayama. Wiley was equally impressed with his guest performer. I wish all pops artists could be as fun, cool, laid-back, musical and versatile as Michael McDonald, Wiley told the crowd during the symphonys opening set.

Having rehearsed on it all week, Pearl Jam was well acquainted with the Consol stage and everything to be played on it, and tonight, it was time to christen Pearl Jam’s first full U.S. tour since 2010 and first concert in Pittsburgh since 2006. Set list Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town Lightning Bolt Rockin’ in the Free World Yellow Ledbetter “I was starting to get nervous about our first gig,” Eddie Vedder said at one point, “and I happened to be talking to Bruce Springsteen, and he said, ‘Aw [expletive], it’s in Pittsburgh, it’s going to be a smoking crowd.” True to form, it was a high-energy, high-spirited, nearly 30-song Springsteen-style marathon from Eddie and the boys, who made it feel like they were FROM Pittsburgh. Pearl Jam had teased a few new songs in a pair of shows this summer — one at Wrigley Field, one in London, Ontario — but this was the live debut for many of the tunes from “Lightning Bolt.” Although it doesn’t come out until Tuesday, it was streamed on iTunes this week, so the Pearl Jam faithful were prepared. When he sang “Pendulum” in his rich baritone, drawing out that great line “Easy come, easy go/easy left me long ago,” there was already a spark of recognition. The band is obviously proud of this one, and with good reason. When they powered through the title track and the breakneck single “Mind Your Manners,” they already sounded like songs from a future “greatest hits” collection. They were paired with the furious “Animal” as an easy compare and contrast to older days. Of course, Pearl Jam is just as effective, or more so, in the mid-tempo zone, making songs like “Nothingman,” “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in Small Town” and “Faithfull” sing-along celebrations. Add to that “Sirens,” a beauty from the new album about the fragility of life, with death right outside the door. “Unemployable” was delivered as “a fate I wish on everybody in Congress,” Mr. Vedder said. Something about “Daughter” made him think of Franco Harris because he inserted a breathy chant of “Let’s Go Franco” into the song, followed by a toast to the running back he said was the best when he was growing up. Pearl Jam, surrounded on all sides in the sold-out house, chose to forego the giant screen approach. There were hanging lantern globes, and a cluster of lights above that looked like a found object sculpture of a metal band’s unreadable logo.