Ruling Supreme

Friday at Leeds was rounded off by one of the weekend's highpoints, a rare festival appearance from Pearl Jam.

The band have shyed away from the European circuit since the death of fans during one of their shows in Denark. Clearly they were convinced that the Carling Weekend was the event with a suitably safety conscious attitude, and with their finest album for over a decade recently out, it was time for one of the greatest rock acts of the nineties to pay the UK a visit once more.

Having said 'Pearl Jam' is a very strong album, there was less of that during this set than you might imagine. First single 'Worldwide Suicide' got an airing early on, with new release 'Life Wasted' appearing as part of the set's climax. In between Pearl Jam took the Leeds crowd on a musical journey throughout their long, sometimes brilliant, sometimes indifferent career to date.

'VS.' tracks 'Go' and 'Animal' opened the set, with the legendary acoustic based songs 'Daughter' and 'Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town' also representing their 1994 release.

From 'VS.' until their current record, the band's singles have always been first rate, with some of the album tracks failing to live up to the high standards Pearl Jam set themselves in the early nineties. 'Yield' was still a strong record, but marked something of a drop in standards, 'Given To Fly' is one of those excellent singles though and went down a storm in West Yorkshire. 'Do The Evolution' was also included, as the opener for the encore.

As for their classic from 1991, that gave them arguably their biggest and most famous singles, a number appeared on this occasion. Fans of 'Ten' were treated to 'Even Flow', complete with cracking drum solo, 'Black', 'Why Go' and 'Porch', with the finest 'Ten' track saved for the end.

'Alive' got a typically massive reaction. This was then followed by a somewhat rambled story of how Eddie Vedder had recently dreamt about the gruesome image of George Bush having sex; the point of the gag was connected to pulling out of Iraq. Luckily he and the rest of the band saved the moment by playing a quite outstanding cover of Neil Young's 'Rockin' In The Free World'.

This without question was exactly what a headline gig at a festival should be about. A massive band, playing on top form, with enough well established songs to keep the casual observers happy.

Pearl Jam lay the challenge of great headline performances firmly at the feet of Muse and Franz Ferdinand. The newer UK acts would have to work extremely hard to rise to the challenge.