There have been few Reading sets with as much emotional weight and breathless catharsis as when Pearl Jam took to the stage to close 2006’s festival. Following the tragedy at Denmark’s Roskilde Festival, in which nine fans were killed in a crowd crush during the band’s set, Pearl Jam had said they would never play a festival again. But six years later, with Eddie Vedder solemnly urging the audience to look after one another, they returned to Reading for their first festival show since that awful day, for a performance that came with a whole wave of heavy feeling – at one point an overcome Eddie wept onstage – but also became a triumphant celebration of life, togetherness, and facing your fears so that you may better understand them.
With moments of tenderness, and others of full-throated unloading, the show was a complex rollercoaster of deep, real wounds. But also of euphoria, of love, of moving forward. One must never forget those who lost their lives at Roskilde, and had Pearl Jam quit – as they originally considered – or never played a festival again, nobody would have thought any less of them. But by digging deep, they showed just how comforting and powerful music can be.