At Pinkpop, Pearl Jam shimmers as 'thirty years old'

The ‘Kalm Aan Laan’ – that’s the name of the oasis in the Limburg Pinkpop desert where visitors can escape the scorching UV terror of this tropical weekend. There are countless food trucks, ice cream stalls, a pop-up museum and wooden relaxation benches. It’s the only place under the shade of trees, and so – indeed – everyone takes it easy.

But not now. Because when the mercury hits 32 degrees on Saturday afternoon at about four o’clock, men with megaphones are suddenly blaring that the area has been declared closed. All turn around! The stream of festival-goers who have just passed the endless queue for free water and who have seen an ambulance transport the umpteenth overheated visitor wonders in despair: where should we go then?

If you are sensible, flee to the Tent Stage, the only place where it is still somewhat unbearable

It is not the only logistical problem facing the 51st edition of Pinkpop. The new layout of the festival site (whereby the two largest stages are no longer behind, but opposite each other) does not work. Because the crowd is no longer split into two separate meadows, but can sit and only have to turn around to see the next show, everywhere is busier than ever.

festival goers seek the shadow.
Marcel van Hoorn / ANP
Courtney Barnett Saturday at Pinkpop 2022.
Paul Bergen / ANP

If you are sensible, flee to the cooler Tent Stage, the only place where it is still somewhat bearable during the peak of the heat wave. The Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett gives a mighty performance, which starts nice and slow, completely in style with the circumstances, but in which she lets her no-nonsense songs crackle more and more.

It also does that with nu-metal pioneers Deftones, which is already taking an advance on the announced thunderstorm. During an impressively intense show, the amps spark and flash bright bolts from the rear screens. Singer Chino Moreno is in top form: intensely sighing, panting, screeching, he weaves his sensitive new-wave melodies through the pounding guitar violence, and finally his vocal chords scream to the lightning the old-fashioned way.

Also read this open letter to Eddie Vedder: “Ed, have you gone insane?”

Pearl Jam

Something breaks with Eddie Vedder too: he breaks his tongue during a hilarious speech that lasts no less than three sides. The singer of Pearl Jam recalls the magical Pinkpop show of “thirty years and ten days of joy” after which nothing would be the same. “I don’t even speak Dutch, but it’s a day that you never forget.”

Pearl Jam seems to be planning to redo that glorious performance in a grunge celebration in which the band virtually ignores new work. In opener ‘Even Flow’ Vedder hops across the stage like a young deer. Pumping on his wahwah pedal, great Mike McCready breathes life into city rivals Jimi Hendrix in a splitting solo.

Damn, you think after the lively performance of ‘Why Go’: it seems like 1992! ‘Corduroy’ gets an orgasmic interlude, the unexpected gem ‘Throw Your Hatred Down’ – which Pearl Jam recorded with Neil Young for their joint masterpiece mirror ball (1995) – vibrates and in the punk tirade ‘Lukin’ Vedder barks wonderfully exasperated.

Also read Friday’s report: Metallica further stokes the fire at the hottest Pinkpop ever

That magic lasts for an hour. After that, Vedder loses himself more and more often, lurking at his wine bottle, in too long digressions, about surfing (“Are there still people from Scheveningen? Zandvoort? Domburg?”), a dead luthier, his famous jump off the camera mast (“I can’t go near them anymore: they’re halfway down the field now”), what time the sun sets in Seattle, etc.

At that time, the band could easily have two or three crowd favorites (‘black’?) can play. And it’s cute that they want to ease the pain of the Rolling Stones concert that was canceled earlier this week with a cover of ‘Street Fighting Man’, but why also play Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’?

An extra shame: the show ends up being twenty minutes shorter than planned. Apparently those “thirty years and ten days” started counting after all.

Eddie Vedder by Pearl Jam Saturday at Pinkpop 2022.

Paul Bergen / ANP

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