Pearl Jam a reminder of the brilliance of a summer concert

From U2′s Zoo tour to Taylor Swift in Dublin, there’s just something about an outdoor gig

Lynette Fay

Lynette Fay

Lynette is an award winning presenter and producer, working in television and radio. Hailing from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, she is a weekly columnist with The Irish News.

Eddie Vedder
Eddie Vedder, or 'Uncle Eddie' as he's known in Lynette's house

Summer gigs are an essential part of the Irish summer. Getting the tickets, the anticipation, planning the outfits, the road trip, the day itself.

I was 15 when I went to my first big outdoor gig. Mummy drove me to Belfast at 4am to get the tickets, then I struck a deal with Daddy for me and some friends to Dublin to see U2′s Zoo TV tour in the RDS.

I still remember the scale of it. The lights, the sound. Everyone in the crowd loving every second of the gig. Standing beside Tom Dunne, the lead singer of Something Happens. It was epic and my love affair with live outdoor concerts began.

As a side note - in a world of no mobile communication, I still have no idea how we managed to meet up afterwards to get the lift home!

Thirty years on, I try to have an outdoor gig or two booked in each year. Springsteen in Croke Park in the May sunshine was exceptional. Last weekend, we were standing in a field in the south side of Dublin, in the mid summer sun, surrounded by a crowd of people roughly the same age as us, each of them hanging on Pearl Jam’s every note and word. I could imagine most of the fellas having the long bushy hair back in the day, and the women who were  We walked in to the Pearl Jam ‘Dark Matter’ gig like giddy 15-year-olds, hope springing eternal that they might, just might play our favourite songs.

They did. They pitched the gig perfectly, opening with Release and ending with Alive. It was amazing to watch people completely lost in the music, and loving every second of it. Pearl Jam has always been a band of social conscience and it was very powerful to hear Eddie Vedder, on behalf of the band, mention last week’s street protests against the lenient sentencing and treatment of Cathal Cotty after he pleaded guilty to viciously attacking Natasha O’Brien. He called out the importance of equality, women’s rights and women’s safety, and suggested that it might be a good idea to have “a few more female judges too”. There were a few posters in the crowd advocating Eddie for president.

Eddie Vedder is referred to as ‘Uncle Eddie’ in our house. That has been the drill since we saw him five years ago when I was five months pregnant. I am convinced that music heard in utero has a calming effect on the child. Our little girl seems to love Pearl Jam. We can only hope that they stay on the road for another few years, and that we are lucky enough to take her to one of their gigs in the future.

While my 15-year-old self loved U2, Pearl Jam, Madonna, Hothouse Flowers, Sinéad O’Connor and more, this weekend, thousands of teenagers and younger, will make their first pilgrimage to a big live gig. The excitement has been palpable for weeks. Getting the outfit right will be everything to many little girls - and boys - going to see Taylor Swift. The Swifties will inevitably take over Dublin this weekend.

The hunt for Taylor Swift tickets makes the search for All-Ireland tickets back in the day pale into insignificance – although technology now denies us the panic, and adrenaline rush of driving to Cork to meet a complete stranger at a random petrol station to secure a single ticket for the match.

The timing of Taylor’s gigs this weekend will present a few households with a dilemma too. How many will chance going to the All-Ireland Football quarter-final in Croke Park first, then on to the Aviva for Taylor? County loyalty could well be put to the test.

Speaking of which, the story broke last week that according to research conducted by the Irish museum of emigration, Taylor Swift is indeed a Derry girl. The Kerry v Derry quarter-final throws in at 3.15pm meaning there’s plenty of time for Taylor to go and support the Oak Leafers in their quest for Sam.