Entertainment behind the scenes
Pearl Jam wary of Roskilde tragedy as storm threatens Indiana show
Exercising an abundance of caution that wasn’t reciprocated by all its fans, Pearl Jam delayed the start of its concert near Indianapolis on Friday because a thunderstorm unnerved band members still haunted by a fatal show at the Roskilde festival in Denmark 10 years ago.
A few hours before showtime, fans who had not already entered the Verizon Music Center in Noblesville were turned back by security guards. They were told to listen to their car radios for updates on a local radio station. But many hardy Hoosiers just stood about drinking in the parking lot, oblivious to the lightning and intermittent torrents.
Eventually the all-clear came through just before 8 p.m. EST, and Pearl Jam took the stage about 9:40 p.m. The delay still allowed opening act Band of Horses to take the stage. (An earlier post incorrectly said the band did not play.)
Singer Eddie Vedder (pictured in a 2008 file photo) told the audience that the band was mindful of the upcoming anniversary of the Roskilde tragedy, when nine fans suffocated during a surge towards the stage on June 30, 2000. When the band learned of imminent thunderstorms, “it was hitting us deep, deep in our core,” he said.
He thanked fans for their patience with the band’s “safety-first” policy, and also jokingly thanked “the Gods of Indiana for smiling on us.”
The 135-minute show, which Vedder said was the band’s first in Indiana in seven years, included a few tributes to the state. Vedder sang the Jackson 5′s “Going Back to Indiana,” mentioned NBA great Larry Bird, and dedicated a song to Hud Mellencamp, a son of John Mellencamp. But Vedder twice referred to the rocker by his long-disused stage name “John Cougar Mellencamp.”
The Noblesville stop was the fourth of a brief U.S. tour that officially began last Monday in Kansas City. It was also the only amphitheater gig on the itinerary. The trek wraps at New York’s Madison Square Garden on May 21, ahead of an 11-date European tour that will kick off in Dublin on June 22. On the Roskilde anniversary, Pearl Jam will play a show in Berlin, presumably hoping efficient German crowd-control will prevent history from repeating itself.