Pearl Jam, Neil Young Perform “Rockin in the Free World” For Toronto Audiences

September 16th, 2011
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Toronto concertgoers saw a very special performance of Pearl Jam’s encore cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin in the Free World,” on Sunday when Young himself joined the group onstage for an incendiary performance of the 1989 hit.


Pearl Jam performs at PJ20. Photo credit Alyssa Fried

Pearl Jam performs at PJ20. Photo credit Alyssa Fried

Pearl Jam has put their cover of the song on regular rotation for live performances, usually as an encore.

Sunday night’s show is not the first time that Young has joined the group onstage for a performance of the song. In 1993, Pearl Jam and Young performed “Rockin in the Free World” at the MTV Music Awards.

Nearly two decades later, Pearl Jam is still capitalizing on the sing-along chorus, guitar solo, and heavy back beat that make ‘Rockin in the Free World,” so conducive to live performance.

Pearl Jam and Neil Young’s collaboration goes beyond the song. The two met at a 1992 Bob Dylan tribute concert, “BobFest,” and only a month later, Pearl Jam played at the Bridge School Benefit Concert with Young.

In 1994, Pearl Jam’s lead vocalist Eddie Vedder inducted Young into the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame.

Young also took the stage with Pearl Jam in 1995—this time to save lead vocalist Eddie Vedder from certain mid-show cancellation when he fell sick after performing only three songs.

So, while the collaboration between Young and Pearl Jam is nothing novel, Toronto concertgoers saw two marquee acts from two very different generations come together. And with lyrics that continue to gain poignancy in America’s post-9/11 culture, Sunday’s September 11 performance of ‘Rockin in the Free World” gave a little extra at the last minute.

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By Maggie Tuesday Reynolds Posted in News ,


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