Concerts

Eddie Vedder, Comerica Theatre, 11/4/12

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Onstage, Vedder listed his musical tools, too, covering Pink Floyd, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Neil Young (and briefly, he sang in the style of Willie Nelson, covering a Pearl Jam song). Without the rage and power of Pearl Jam behind him, Vedder positioned himself as an interpreter of classics, and a storyteller in his own right as he shared stories from Into the Wild and Ukulele Songs, his love letter to the tiny Hawaiian instrument he says helped save him from his lowest moments.

"When I first picked it up, it made such a happy little sound," Vedder said of the ukulele. "I just wanted to smash the fucking thing to pieces."

Of course, he didn't. 2011's Ukulele Songs held down a good chunk of the setlist last night, as Vedder sang songs from the record like "Sleeping by Myself" and "You're True." A meditative, pastoral record, the small instrument plays off Vedder's baritone in a special way; there's no "twee" sensibility to the charming combination of Vedder's raw voice and the delicate melodies.

Vedder wasn't shy about incorporating Pearl Jam material, much to the audience's approval. Vedder opened with "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town," perhaps the band's most folky cut from 1993's Vs. He dug into the catalog some more with "Can't Keep" and "Wishlist," trading off acoustic and electric guitars, a 6-string mandolin, and his ukulele.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.