SOUNDTRACK: PEARL JAM-Live at the Gorge 05/06 (2007).
PROLOGUE: When Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction came out, it galvanized the three friends I had with the most disparate musical tastes. I knew an indie rock guy, a metalhead, and an industrial/goth guy, and all three of them loved Appetite for Destruction. It was the only record that they all agreed on. I thought the same would happen with Pearl Jam’s Ten. But, the goth guy didn’t think it was dark and sleazy enough (like GnR) and the indie guy found it too commercial. And, actually, I only talk to one of the three of them these days anyhow.
I’m usually pretty cynical about celebrities. And, I know well enough that rock stars who say “We love you” and “Hello, Cleveland” are, at best, pandering to us. And yet, there are some who seem sincere enough to be believed.
Eddie Vedder is one of those sincere fellows. Ever since Pearl Jam took on Ticketmaster, they seemed to be using their fame and influence for the good of the common man (or at least the common fan). Since then they have donated to various charities, thrown their support behind a (in hindsight, bad) politician (Ralph Nader, a guy whose idealism I supported, but whose reality was less than ideal), and tried their best to muckrake against the current administration. So, when he thanks the audience for letting him share music with them, when he says he’s genuinely glad to be there, and when he acts moved by the show, it all seems genuine. Again, maybe he’s a good actor (although I just watched Singles, for the first time in many years, and Eddie and some of the other PJ guys are in it, and he’s not exactly a scene stealer) but I believe him.
This is all a long set-up to review this recent live collection. It’s a collection of three shows: one set is 3 CDs the other two are 2 CDs each. The first show is from 2005 and the second and third are their tour-ending shows of 2006. All of these shows were performed at The Gorge amphitheater outside of Seattle. From the talking that Eddie does, the Gorge sounds like a great place to see a show, and it sounds like there is camping on the grounds. I only wish they included photos of the show, as I’d love to see it.
The 2005 show starts out with a disc of acoustic songs. The band appears to be in unplugged mode, chilling out before letting ‘er rip in the second half of the show. As with most of their shows, the set list is long and varied. Their shows often clock in at over two hours, with a break at about the midway point. There is a decent selection of tracks from throughout their career, as well as a couple of covers. The notable aspect of this show is that Tom Petty is performing on the following night, and Vedder vows to keep him awake all night. He gets the crowd to chant “Hello Tom, Come down, Tom,” which, sadly Tom never does. But Vedder does a rendition of “I Won’t Back Down.”
The two 2006 shows are back to back two nights in a row. It sounds as if people camped out overnight. And there is some good-natured banter between Vedder and the crowd. What is especially interesting to me about this two-night event is that they play 61 songs over the course of the two nights and the only ones they repeat are “Alive,” “Corduroy,” “Even Flow,” “Given to Fly,” “Life Wasted,” “Severed Hand,” “World Wide Suicide,” and “Yellow Ledbetter.” It’s quite apparent that the band knew there would be lots of folks for both shows and they designed a nicely diverse set list for both nights.
There’s also an interesting shout out to the previous year’s show. On the last night he mentions the Tom Petty taunting from last year, and a large portion of the audience begins the “Hello, Tom. Come down, Tom.” chant.
If you’ve been a big fan of Pearl Jam (as I am) you probably have this. But if you’ve been a mild fan of Pearl Jam over the years, this is a great set to get. You’ll get all of the hits, you’ll get a bunch of songs you’re unfamiliar with, and you’ll get a band playing at its peak. The live renditions of their songs are typically fast and furious. There’s also a lot of room for improvisation. And, it’s a chance to see the lighter side of such a “serious” band. A lot of people used to like Pearl Jam but feel their works since Ten have gone steadily downhill. I disagree, but I think that’s because listening to the live versions of the songs makes you appreciate them even more. So, check it out, it’s well worth it.
[READ: January 8, 2008] The Abstinence Teacher.
My first book finished in 2008! And, I can only hope that this is a good portent for future books this year. Wow, this book was great!
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