Eddie Vedder May Have Just Given Us the Definitive Performance of “Black”

June 27, 2017

There’s been a lot of talk about Eddie Vedder’s set at Firenze Rocks in Italy since it went down on June 24, particularly the performance of the Pearl Jam standout “Black,” which many deemed a subtle tribute to the late Chris Cornell.

Well, video has surfaced of that very song and yes, it is quite possibly the defining moment for the storied Ten track. Playing by himself, Vedder encourages the crowd to sing along (which of course they oblige because it’s freakin’ “Black”) as he “borrows some Stone [Gossard] chords” and heads into the song. The whole moment seems surreal as the crowd falls deathly silent, only the voices of Vedder and those signing along remain. 

On top of “Black” being one of the most unrelentingly heartbreaking songs in all of music, there is something particularly vulnerable about Vedder alone with his guitar and a crowd tens of thousands deep singing along. About halfway through the song, Vedder’s voice begins to crack. The emotions fully consume him at the end while the crowd chants the vocal line and he manages to say “come back” while choking back tears, leading many to believe that his late friend and bandmate inspired the song.  

Whether this is a direct tribute to Chris Cornell or not, the performance is stirring, unsettling, emotional and all of the things that make Vedder one of the most unique and heartfelt artists today.