Pearl Jam’s Live Show Remains An ‘Experience,’ Even After All These Years
The “grunge” era took place over two decades ago, and now, it’s little more than a distant memory, a clouded daze of flannel, misplaced angst, and Seattle slackers that faded to dust with the death of Kurt Cobain. From the ashes of this sentimental trip comes a rock and roll mainstay that transcended “grunge” to become one of the most beloved American bands. Pearl Jam captain Eddie Vedder shows how—with relentless passion and a live show that’s nothing short of a religious experience—in this Picture of the Week.
Even in their early years, Pearl Jam seemed destined to sell-out arenas with their towering anthems. Songs like “Black” and “Yellow Ledbetter” (a song you must hear live) have evolved into rousing sing-a-longs, often verging into the 10 minute mark as the entire crowd provides harmonies. In the scale of a giant stadium, it’s an incredible sight that only a few elite bands are capable of producing. Following the lead of Springsteen and Phish, Pearl Jam have turned their live show into an experience; it’s the main event, while the studio recordings remain an important sideshow.
Nonetheless, we’re still pretty excited for their new album Lightning Bolt, out October 15th. It’s their first LP effort since 2009, and their tenth in total. Remaining a relevant act for 23 years is definitely worth celebrating, as the band continues to muster passion from unseen sources. Maybe Vedder just needed to get a few things out of system, like his 2011 solo album Ukulele Songs (the name speaks for itself), but if that’s what it takes to maintain his signature edge, then no complaints here.
It’s the same edge that keeps him jumping with reckless abandon, steel-toed boot first, mic firmly in hand. In fact, one could even argue it’s absolutely essential to their live appeal. A recent report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows we actually judge performers more on showmanship and the passion they play with, rather than the sound they emit.
Watching how an artist expresses themselves through performance gives us insight into their emotional state, and by extension, allows us to connect with them on an even deeper level when perceived visually than through sound. This factor keeps crowds singing along with Vedder, and playing air-guitar when Mike McCready shreds through a solo. It’s certainly a testament to their longevity, as they’ve managed to “stay young,” even after all these years.
A Pearl Jam concert is a communal event, fueled by the contagious emotion the band plays with. Join them in the catharsis as they take on arenas across the U.S. this fall.
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Article by Nicolas White