It’s a fair question to ask just how many live Pearl Jam albums a person needs. With the multiple bootleg series alone, and all their other live discs and the Gorge box set and the live disc in the recent re-release of v.s/Vitalogy and… you see how someone could at least wonder if another live disc was necessary. Especially when these songs are culled from seven years’ worth of shows, not one complete show (same approach as Live On Two Legs).
So, why did I buy this disc? The best reason: I’m a fan. Always will be. I see new PJ and something makes my arm shoot out at the rack and grab the disc and take it to the cashier. Long conditioning, I suppose. Plus, I know it’ll be quality. There’s a reason this band survived the death of grunge. They are a solid, kick-ass live act. These discs prove it, again and again.
Out of the gate with a cover of Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros’ Arms Aloft, straight into a peppy World Wide Suicide and then, without a breath, into an Animal that survives its increased speed with aplomb. Nice crowd sing-alongs. A quick shout to the crowd and straight into a blistering Got Some (Cameron really blasts the kit, in this one), it’s clear that the band is not going to take their foot off the gas any time soon, as jumping straight into State Of Love And Trust proves.
Shift gears a bit for I Am Mine, Unthought Known and then ramp it back up for rearviewmirror and The Fixer. Then, Nothing As It Seems beautifully brings things in a bit. But why the heck were people clapping along? Is this a clap-along song? I wouldn’t have thought so. Kind of wrecks it for me. Anyway. In Hiding makes it all better. What a song. The finger-picking on Just Breathe is great, and Jeremy sets the house on fire. It really speeds up by the end with the crowd blissfully howling along.
Next up is PiL’s Public Image, where Eddie really lets his vocals go with it, doing his level best to channel Lydon. Keep it up for a ripping Spin The Black Circle and a blistering Porch (whew!), before settling into the concert staples of Alive and McCready’s Hendrix homage, Yellow Ledbetter.
These recordings are crisp and clear, the band is ALWAYS at its peak, and like every Pearl Jam live record, this disc makes you wish you had been there at each show. Part of the magic is being a part of that crowd, feeling the energy and feeding it with your own.
Did I like it? Oh yes. Will I play it again? Sure. Should you buy it? Of course you should!
UPDATE: My buddy Mike made a good point, which was that if all of these tracks have been recorded over the past seven years, wouldn’t they all have been released already in the bootleg series? He’s right, of course, so long as they recorded and released every single show, as they did with the first bootleg series. In my memory, the following series saw two or three releases commercially, and the rest were sold through their web site. So maybe it’s a case where the diehards who bought everything have these tracks already, but the rest of us don’t. This is nitpicking, but it’s a fair point. Good on ya, Mike.