Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pearl Jam - Live On Ten Legs Review

If you don't already know, this release marks the start of year-long 'festivities', celebrating Pearl Jam's 20th year as a band. It's actually a sequel to their first compilation Live On Two Legs over a decade ago, so you won't find any of those songs here. It's also the perfect introduction into the live aspect of Pearl Jam, and unlike the bootlegs, it's something the casual fan can easily get into.

The songs here are mostly the singles; so nothing new for us 10 clubbers. But what's great about this is that it's meant to be listened to in its entirety. The pacing and sequencing of the tracks are just right, so much so that it feels like a PJ concert, just compressed into 75mins. Bootleg collectors probably own versions of all these songs from the past few tours, but the sound here is nothing like the boots'. Effort has been made to brush up and mix the sound properly. And it's stellar and crisp for the most part. For example, you can now hear the background vocals on Got Some.

Now for the songs. Arms Aloft kicks off the set. This Joe Strummer cover was debuted in Europe last summer. PJ has a knack for choosing the right songs to cover. It's an uplifting tune, but also sad, knowing that the man is no longer with us. Versions of World Wide Suicide, Animal, State Of Love And Trust, I Am Mine and Rearview Mirror aren't the definitive ones, based on my listening to the many boots over the years. But they're good enough to make even a non-fan sit up and pay attention. Nothing As It Seems is one I could do without; totally not a fan of this song. Still it's worth listening to once in a while for Mike 'face-melting' McCready. On the other hand, Unthought Known kills every time.

In Hiding is one of those songs I'm glad didn't become a hit single, though it could've easily have. I just feel that it's 'my song' and mine only. Wanna hear the best In Hiding? 10/30/09 at the Philadelphia Spectrum. Like Jeff Ament said in a recent interview, it's perhaps the greatest Stone/Eddie collaboration. This particular Just Breathe has strings on it, and though it's very stripped down for PJ, it's still difficult to play. It's a tight version, the best I've heard so far; but there's a certain rawness that comes with it. You can count on the band to give you that, something very few live acts achieve; that 'unpolishedness'.

Public Image is the one that I'll listen to regularly now. Eddie adopting the singing mannerisms of John Lyndon; wicked. They were meant to cover this. After the rousing Porch and Alive, the set concludes as always with Yellow Ledbetter. Still as moving as ever, but filled with hope. And by the end of this album, you've supposed to feel emotionally exhausted, and fulfilled.