Pearl Jam and Robert Plant at the House of Blues

By Mark Guarino

If shelling out $1,000 to see a concert does not induce massive guilt or make your left eye twitch, then you were probably at the House of Blues Wednesday when one grand got you four hours of music featuring Pearl Jam and Robert Plant.

Live music is a touchy commodity to determine a monetary value — and don’t think the Rolling Stones haven’t tried. But if you could afford it and didn’t want to walk away feeling shortchanged, then Wednesday’s benefit for Katrina relief was the perfect show to carry such a price tag — its marathon length was matched by the driving exuberance of the music. Plus, like a solar eclipse, it provided a rare glimpse of what happens when a band of ordinary-looking dudes gets commandeered by a rock legend.

The show was not a sell out, but even with almost 1,000 people in attendance, a significant sum was raised for Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross and the Jazz Foundation of America — “none of them are subsidiaries of Halliburton, trust me,” reported Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder.

Pearl Jam effortlessly went the distance, with a 27-song setlist that proved their continued longevity is due to the resilience of their back catalog. Their two-hour, 40-minute set kept a continuous momentum, switching from riff-heavy arena anthems (“Evenflow,” “Dissident,” “Go,” “Do the Evolution”) to songs that stretched with guitarist Mike McCready’s blues-drenched solos and hyper theatricality. The band may not be the commercial powerhouse they were in the mid-‘90s, but it’s clear their primary role is as a band that can deliver meaty rock with sincerity and sweat.

The close quarters opened the floodgates for fans, responsible for Vedder’s collection of knick-knacks — White Sox cap, Cubs jersey, bumperstickers — by the show’s end. It fed the night’s

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