Matt Cameron tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, and for the first time in his 24 years as the drummer for Pearl Jam, he was forced to miss a concert. But the show must go on, and as Blabbermouth reports, Pearl Jam got through the Thursday, May 12th performance in Oakland, California with help behind the kit from Josh Klinghoffer, Richard Stuveru, and, for the finale, a fan plucked from the audience.
“Matt Cameron is a true artist and he’s a force of nature,” frontman Eddie Vedder told the crowd. “However, even his superhero status could not prevent him from testing positive. This damn COVID thing yesterday. We’ve been scrambling for 24 hours because after 25 months of… We were supposed to be here 25 months ago. We’ve been waiting and we’ve been waiting. Postponing wasn’t an option and for us neither was canceling. We didn’t want to pull the plug and we couldn’t pull the plug. We’ve got our group here, we’ve got our equipment here and, most importantly, you’re here.”
He then introduced one of the evening’s primary drummers, who had only joined Pearl Jam as a touring member last September. “So, lucky for us, we have some friends, and one of our friends has already been on our team this tour — the multi-talented, multi-faceted, multi-instrumentalist playing behind the drum kit right now, Mr. Josh Klinghoffer. Like the Shohei Ohtani of rock ‘n’ roll. Let’s let the shit hit the fan and hopefully it’s good shit.”
Klinghoffer wielded the drum sticks on 11 of the evening’s 26 songs, while Stuveru (a longtime Jeff Ament collaborator) handled 12, according to Setlist.fm. Vedder played two songs solo, with the biggest surprise of the night being reserved for the end.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Vedder said before the finale, “Please welcome one of your own: Mr. Josh Arroyo!”
According to a YouTube comment from a purported witness, earlier in the evening, “Eddie asked if there were any drummers in the crowd that wanted to play. Josh jumped up and ran to the front isle. Eddie saw his shirt, which listed all of the PJ drummers. Then Eddie said, ‘Get him tested for COVID and bring him out for the encore!’ The place went NUTS!”
Fan footage showed the moment Arroyo came on stage, with Vedder joking that he’d have to get a new shirt with his own name added to the bottom. Then Pearl Jam launched into a performance of “Yellow Ledbetter” to close out the evening in Oakland.
Beforehand, Pearl Jam also uncorked covers of “Rockin’ in the Free World,” and “Baba O’Riley,” as well as old classics such as “Jeremy,” new favorites like “Quick Escape,” and more. Check out selections from the concert below.
Pearl Jam have a handful of dates remaining on the US leg of their tour before they decamp for Europe. Tickets are available here.