Eddie Vedder Describes 'Frightening' Recent 'Near-Death Experience' That Affected Pearl Jam

10 July 2024 | 8:49 am | Mary Varvaris

The band faced illness where members of the crew "couldn't breathe" months before their Australian tour dates.

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam (Credit: Danny Clinch)

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Pearl Jam recently cancelled a handful of shows in London and Berlin, citing illness. At the band’s gig in Barcelona on Saturday (6 July), frontman Eddie Vedder described said illness as a “near-death experience.”

The band cancelled shows in London (29 June), and Berlin (2 and 3 June), and told fans of the hard decision: “The impacts of this decision are not lost on us,” they wrote in a social media statement. “We feel deeply that so many people spend their time, money, and emotional energy to get tickets and then to come see the band and it is heart wrenching to have to disappoint you.”

But cancelled shows were the least of the band’s problems, with Vedder describing the illness as a “frightening” kind of “chest bronchitis” that was very uncomfortable and affected the crew’s breathing.

Vedder addressed the crowd in Barcelona in between Just Breathe and Wasted Reprise (the former performed by Vedder solo, and the latter a tour debut), two encore songs.

“Can I just say that last week almost felt like a near-death experience,” Vedder said. “It was very uncomfortable, and it got frightening. It felt like chest bronchitis. It felt like maybe you couldn’t breathe, and maybe you wouldn’t make it through the night, and maybe you’d have to go to the hospital.”

Adding that the illness struck “a few” members of the band’s team, Vedder continued, “You just realise how precious this life is. How lucky we are to have been living on a planet where we can go around and play to incredible people like the people in this room here tonight.

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“So, it was a poignant experience. I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. And we won’t be forgetting tonight anytime soon.”

You can watch footage of Vedder discussing the near-death experience below.

Pearl Jam’s Australian Tour

The band’s cancelled shows and illness come a few months before their upcoming highly anticipated tour of Australia this October.

Pearl Jam’s forthcoming Australian tour has been a long time coming, not only because of the ten-year wait since their last appearance down under – at Big Day Out 2014 – but because they began teasing their imminent return at Christmas time.

The tour consists of five Australian dates – one at the Gold Coast’s Heritage Bank Stadium, two at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium, and two at Sydney’s Giants Stadium. Pearl Jam will also play two shows in New Zealand. For the tour, they’ll be joined by special guests, Pixies, in support of their latest album, Dark Matter.

In a review of Dark Matter, The Music’s Jessica Dale wrote: “It’s called Dark Matter, but honestly, I think this is the lightest and brightest thing they’ve made in years. There feels like there’s hope behind this album that we haven’t felt from them in a long time—if maybe ever before.”