Pearl Jam were about halfway through their special concert for SirusXM at Harlem’s Apollo Theater on Saturday night when Eddie Vedder’s mind went to Bessie Smith’s residency at the venue way back in 1935. “She played here four weeks in a row at one point,” he told the audience. “She was the singer, so she was probably standing right where I’m standing. We never got to be in this room before. The fact that we get to be on this stage is just remarkable.”

Vedder’s reverence for the hallowed ground of the Apollo was clearly shared by the rest of Pearl Jam, and they set out to create a very special night that stood far apart from their standard arena show. Gone were the vast majority of their well-worn Nineties hits. In their place, the group assembled a set packed with songs from their new LP Gigaton, deep cuts from their recent albums, old favorites, and a couple of covers. This may have tested the patience of the casual fans that scored tickets through industry connections and waited all night in van to hear “Jeremy” or “Alive,” but was an evening of ecstasy to the PJ hardcores sprinkled throughout the theater.

By anyone’s standards, however, the night got off to a very rough start when after just five fantastically obscure songs (“Footsteps,” “Pendulum,” “Slight of Hand,” Parachutes,” and “Hard To Imagine), Vedder told the crowd they had to pause for a minute to “reboot the computer.” “I’m pretty sure John Coltrane never had to say that when he played here,” he joked.

That one minute turned into 20 very long minutes where technicians scurried around and tried to get the show back up and running. Vedder played an un-amplified, acoustic rendition of Warren Zevon’s “Keep Me In Your Heart” at one point, but much of the crowd couldn’t hear him. Making matters worse, the theater was squelching hot. Several sweaty fans were fanning themselves, and some even asked ushers to turn up the air conditioning. (If the theater did have A/C, it seemed like it was last fixed around the time James Brown cut Live at the Apollo.)

The show eventually got back on track with a blistering “Who Ever Said” from Gigaton, and then they finally appeased the old school fans with a long, jammed-out “Even Flow.” It was followed by an incredible run that included “Dance of the Clairvoyants,” “Quick Escape,” “Whipping” and “Spin The Black Circle.” The latter song was dedicated to Howard Stern and his crew. “We met them tonight for the first time after so many years,” Vedder said. “Robin [Quivers], I just live to hear your laugh. You give me joy when I need it.”

He also told an hysterical story about meeting Ray Charles when he was working as an unpaid roadie at a San Diego nightclub in 1989, and gave a shout-out to the Red Hot Chili Peppers ahead of their SiriusXM Apollo gig on Tuesday. “Back in the day when we were just a baby band with shit in our diapers, they took us on the road not just once to great theater like this, not just twice, but then they took us to Lollapalooza in 1992,” Vedder said. “We have to thank them for changing our lives, but it’s 30 years later and we’re still fuckin’ opening for them.”

The main set wrapped up with an epic “Porch,” complete with a killer Mike McCready guitar solo. They came back for a singalong “Better Man,” a wild “Do The Evolution,” and a cover of the Who’s “Baba O’Riley.” It seemed like the grand finale, but they ended on a very atypical mellow note by breaking out “Indifference” from Vs.

The clock was pressing towards midnight when they took their final bows, and Vedder’s shirt was soaked through with sweat. They were due onstage at Madison Square Garden in less than 24 hours. That show will likely go a lot smoother, but they’ll have to work pretty damn hard to make it more memorable.

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