Eddie Vedder, Beck, Neil Young and a slew of other high-profile musicians stripped down their sound over the weekend for the greatest of causes at the 2011 Bridge School Benefit concerts, the 25th anniversary of the non-profit charity event benefitting the school for students with severe learning and communication challenges.
Organized by Neil Young and his wife, Pegi, the Bridge School Benefit is held every October at the majestically-set Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. Beck made one of his first live appearances in over two years, and was joined by Neil Young himself to cover "Pocahontas":
Eddie Vedder's set began with a truncated cover of Young's "Don't Cry No Tears," before spiritedly moving on to include Régine Chassagne from Arcade Fire on the classic from The Jerk "Tonight You Belong To Me":
Later, Beck appeared for a duet on "Sleepless Nights" with Vedder:
Here's a solo take on the Ten passion-blast "Porch", for which the line "There aint gonna be any middle anymore" takes on a new snarling poignance:
Dave Matthews was the surprise highlight of each day, longtime sideman Tim Reynolds in tow on guitar. Strangely enough, the low point of his set was when Young took the stage for a rendition of "Oh! Susanna," an odd spin on the ancient standard.
Arcade Fire suffered slightly in the acoustic format, with a disconnect from the audience that was palpable. However, their version of Young's "Helpless," with Neil himself adding vocals and guitar, was remarkable and redeeming.
Young closed the show with his own solo set, featuring such favorites as "Comes a Time" and "Sugar Mountain," and then called out the whole Bridge crew for an encore of the Youngbloods' hit "Get Together."
Foo Fighters performed hatless and powerfully on Sunday, where an acoustic version of their recent hit "Walk" arguably claimed top honors in the performance category. Tony Bennett followed, with a set of classics that distracted concertgoers from the man's odd placement on the bill.
The entire Saturday event can be streamed here.