In Molly Matteson’s book, it’s been 11 years since Pearl Jam last played Minnesota. And she’s one of those many fans who feels so passionately about the group, you don’t want to argue with her about it.
“That last one didn’t count,” Matteson insisted of her favorite band’s 2006 concert at Xcel Energy Center, when the ’90s rockers opened for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers to mark the headliners’ 30th anniversary. “It wasn’t the same energy. It wasn’t their show.”
When an 85-minute set filled mostly with hits doesn’t cut it with the diehards, you know a band sets high expectations. Pearl Jam will finally hit the mark again at the St. Paul arena on Oct. 19, their first local headlining date since 2003. Tickets sold out instantly.
The Seattle-reared quintet outlived their impressive run of MTV-buoyed early-’90s hits — “Alive,” “Jeremy,” Even Flow,” “Daughter,” etc. — by building up a faithful fan base around their concerts starting in the late ’90s. Not unlike the Grateful Dead, they instituted fan-friendly ticket policies, sanctioned bootleg recordings and changed their set lists greatly from night to night. And unlike the Dead, their performances are reliably thrilling.
Pearl Jam became so reliable, local fans felt all the more stung every time a new tour leg was announced without a Minnesota stop on it. The band did nothing to soothe matters in 2011 when word got out about the private mini-set it played for Target corporate employees in Minneapolis to promote its “Backspacer” album.
“That one really hurt,” said Ian Campbell of Bloomington, who finally saw the band again at Chicago’s Wrigley Field last summer. Some Minnesota fans also trekked to the 2011 “Pearl Jam 20” concerts at Alpine Valley amphitheater in southern Wisconsin.
“It’s sort of like they’ve been circling us like an airplane but never actually landing here,” Campbell added, calling them “the greatest live rock band of my generation, like the Who.”
To be fair, Pearl Jam’s members did scale back on touring in the late ’00s to focus on their families. Frontman Eddie Vedder also went on a solo acoustic tour in 2011, which included a riveting 2½-hour set at the Orpheum Theatre that appeased fans. For a while, anyway.
“It’s been incredibly frustrating,” said Matteson, of Minneapolis, who traveled from Phoenix to Philadelphia during that drought just to see the band play. “They’ve put out three albums in that time, and a lot has happened. It’s been fun to travel to see them, but there’s something more special about a show in your hometown.”
Jon Bream's and Chris Riemenschneider's fall pop-concert picks
Fleetwood Mac: She’s back. After retiring 16 years ago because of fear of flying, Christine McVie has returned to Fleetwood Mac. That completes the chain of the three singer-songwriters — the others being Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, of course — from Big Mac’s “Rumours” heyday. The group has continued to tour without McVie, but it pretty much became the Buckingham-Nicks show. We get the honor — or challenge? — of seeing the first reunion concert on the 33-city On With the Show Tour.
Sept. 30 at Target Center • $49.50-$179.50 • axs.com
Eric Church: He’s headlined in arenas, scored No. 1 songs and won prestigious country awards. But Church still considers himself an outsider. That’s why his new album is called “The Outsiders” as he pushes the sonic and lyrical envelope beyond bro-country and other Nashville norms. He’s even enlisted old-school stalwart Dwight Yoakam as an opening act. How outside the box is that?
Tuesday • Target Center • $25-$59.50 • axs.com
Festival Palomino: Modeled after their cohorts Atmosphere’s popular Soundset hip-hop fest — just substitute banjos for turntables — bluegrassy folk-rock faves Trampled by Turtles are bringing in a diverse breed of rootsy music makers for their inaugural party inside the horse track. The lineup includes local pals Low and Erik Koskinen, rockier Seattle hitmakers the Head & the Heart, veteran soul man Charles Bradley and Southern-styled newcomers Hurray for the Riff Raff and Spirit Family Reunion.
Sept. 20 • Canterbury Park, Shakopee, $34-$87 • FestivalPalomino.com
Lizzo & Caroline Smith: Minnesota’s hottest rising star, Lizzo has kept up her local ties even while crisscrossing the Atlantic all summer to play some of the biggest festivals around. The sharp-edged, buoyant-haired rapper’s first First Avenue-headlining shows will showcase one of her closest local bonds — with Smith, the soulful-voiced (and similarly poofy-haired) ex-folkie who shifted to a groovier, R&B-based sound with her own First Ave headline debut last year.
Sept. 26-27 • First Avenue • $16-$20 (second show is sold out) • First-Avenue.com
Benjamin Booker: With the raw, blues-based power of the pre-“Brothers” Black Keys and a cool, gravelly howler voice, this buzzing 25-year-old New Orleans newcomer has one of rock’s most raved-about new albums, an eponymous debut collection for ATO Records. He will make his local debut coming off strong receptions for his Lollapalooza and Jack White opening sets.
Sept. 29 • Turf Club • $15 • TurfClub.net
Iggy Azalea: She wears a lot of sporty attire in her videos and TV appearances, so it might be fitting that the suddenly famous Australian pop-rap star, 24, will make her local debut on a football field. The “Fancy” hitmaker was a surprisingly hot pick to headline the University of Minnesota’s cool-weather homecoming concert, with “Anna Sun”-rocking Ohio quartet Walk the Moon for support. Her hits, including the club banger “Black Widow,” spent much of the summer near the top of the Billboard charts while she hit the festival circuit on tour, with mixed results.
Oct. 17 • TCF Bank Stadium • $20-$45 • MyGopherSports.com.
Bob Dylan: It’s about time Dylan returned to a small theater, specifically the one he used to own. He and his brother David Zimmerman operated the Orpheum Theatre in the 1980s. Even though they sold it in 1988, Dylan returned to play five memorable concerts there in 1992. After recent local appearances at Midway Stadium and Xcel Energy Center, the Minnesota icon brings his craggy voice and unimpeachable repertoire back home again for three nights.
Nov. 4-6 • Orpheum Theatre • $135, $85 and $55 • ticketmaster.com
FKA Twigs: After starting as a dancer in video clips for Jessie J and Ed Sheeran, this buzzed-about Brit has forged her own recording career with ethereal pop-soul filled with heartache. Her minimalist music, which recalls the xx, is bittersweet and pretty, framed nicely by such A-list producers as Paul Epworth. One of the top curiosities of the fall.
Nov. 14 • Fine Line Music Cafe • $20-$22 • etix.com
Mötley Crüe: All good, decadent and debaucherous things must come to an end, and the Crüe is supposedly doing just that. The Los Angeles-bred metal vets are calling this one their farewell tour, and based on guitarist Mick Mars’ physical ailments of the past and singer Vince Neil’s dwindling ability to hit his high notes, we believe them. Who’d have ever thought that they’d last this long? Opening legend Alice Cooper was monstrously good in concert last fall.
Nov. 15 • Xcel Energy Center • $20-$125 • Ticketmaster.com
Chick Corea and the Vigil: The jazz piano giant returns to the Dakota in yet another context. The 20-time Grammy winner has a new ensemble that plays a mix of electric and acoustic instruments. Think Return to Forever with less volume but the same intensity and virtuosity. Corea and guitarist Charles Altura, bassist Hadrien Feraud, reeds man Tim Garland and drummer Marcus Gilmore have hit the road to promote last year’s well-received album “The Vigil.”
Nov. 24 • Dakota Jazz Club • $55-$95 • dakotacooks.com.