Eddie Vedder obviously didn't look at the calendar before taking the stage on Tuesday at Oracle Arena.
"I don't even know what the (expletive) day it is," the Pearl Jam vocalist said to the capacity crowd in Oakland. "We're not supposed to -- we're a rock band."
That description, as generic as it may sound, sums up the Seattle group as well as anything. It may have started out in the early 1990s as the great grunge-rock hope, before morphing into the leader of alt-rock nation, but Pearl Jam now defines plain old rock 'n' roll as well as any act in the business.
Pearl Jam will be forever linked with Nirvana due to the grunge-rock movement. Yet the comparison that really works best -- at least in 2013 -- is to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
Vedder more closely resembles the Boss with each passing year, from his haircut to his wardrobe to his mannerisms onstage. It's getting so I half expect him to show up for a concert with a red baseball hat stuck in the back pocket of his jeans, a la the cover of Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A."
Most significant, Vedder knows how to lead his band in Springsteen-like musical marathons -- and then some. It's been a long time since I saw the Boss charge through a 3 ½-hour show like Pearl Jam did in Oakland.
The future Rock and Roll Hall of Famers -- who will most likely get inducted in 2016, Pearl Jam's first year of eligibility -- came to town in support of its 10th studio album, "Lightning Bolt." There hasn't been a lot of hype surrounding the record, but that hasn't hurt Pearl Jam at the gate. Oracle was packed to the rafters, with some 16,000 enthusiastic fans turning out to see the group rock through a nearly 40-song set.
The appearance was long overdue. Pearl Jam's last full-length concerts in the Bay Area came in 2006, when the group played three nights at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. It might not feel that long, since it seems the group has performed at the annual Bridge School Benefit almost as often as founder Neil Young has. Pearl Jam also headlined one night at the 2009 Outside Lands festival at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
Vedder and crew made up for lost time by delivering an epic night of music, which served as a sampler of a recording career that dates back to 1991's seminal debut "Ten." Opening the show with "Pendulum," Pearl Jam was initially generous with fan favorites, performing "Nothingman" (from 1994's "Vitalogy"), "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town" (from 1993's "Vs.") and "Why Go" (from "Ten") in rapid succession.
Vedder was in fine spirits throughout the night, drinking from a bottle and sharing his beverage with fans near the front of the stage. His voice is just as powerful as ever, yet he did forget some lyrics toward the end of the night. The rest of the band was an absolute juggernaut, powering through the big hits ("Alive," "Given to Fly," "Better Man"), some nice rarities ("Big Wave," "Thin Air") and other material.
The vocalist even paid tribute to Lou Reed, who died in late October, by playing a version of the Velvet Underground's "After Hours." Vedder also invited punk icon John Doe onstage to do a cover of his band X's "The New World."
In all, fans certainly got their money's worth from the concert. Let's just hope that Pearl Jam doesn't wait so long to bring its full-fledged rock show back to the Bay Area next time.
Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic, Facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.