Jimmy Fallon – any music-lovers favorite TV show host – brilliantly decided to usher in “Pearl Jam Week” for October 21st -25th. Pearl Jam just kicked off their tour for Lightning Bolt—their newest album that’s poised to relaunch them back into the hearts and minds of America’s socially charged youth, not to mention the “classic rockers” like me, who’ve been listening to Pear Jam since the early nineties. The promotion of the album has been sparse, with PJ doing almost no interviews or other PR. Last week, their radio silence suddenly changed.
Pearl Jam Take Over Late Night With Jimmy Fallon – Recap
On Monday, Soundgarden turned Audioslave lead man, Chris Cornell (touring country-wide this fall), sung and played harmonica to the accompaniment of The Avett Brothers (touring prodigiously through spring) on choppy banjo and mellow acoustic guitar. Together, they covered an obscure title from Pearl Jam’s repertoire: “Footsteps.” Cornell is the ideal Eddie Vedder stand-in, as he belts out the range, volume, and soul that Vedder conveys, but gives it his own deep, dark twist.
Tuesday, Fallon introduced Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes. He fronted a trio playing two electric guitars and drums to the tune of “Corduroy” (one of Pearl Jam’s most beautiful songs), with amazing lyrical clarity and a backdrop of sensible looking twenty-somethings. What a departure from the grungy beginnings of Pearl Jam, but perhaps the appropriate bridge for modern rockers. Pecknold lacks the ferocity of Eddie Vedder’s vocals, but honors the song with solid musicianship.
By Wednesday, Dierks Bently, Mike McCready and The Roots take a keyboard-infused stab at Pearl Jam’s “Alive” (from PJ’s must-have album, Ten). Despite unfamiliar vocal drawl and a range ﬁt for drunken karaoke, the ﬁnger dexterity of the lead guitarist pulls them through. A homage can’t be the real thing, but it reminds us how much we love the OG PJ, right?
Next night, more PJ, but this time you get a dose of the real thing. “Sirens,” although not a complete departure for the group, is unique in that it’s a bit slow and you can actually understand every word Vedder is saying! It’s a sobering reﬂection on death, but it acknowledges the ability of human connection to dissolve helplessness and fear associated.
Friday, Pearl Jam capped off the week with the song carrying the album’s name: “Lightning Bolt,” which is classic PJ in that we hear hard hitting drums and garage-rocking guitar. Vedder sings with so much force that the blood vessels in his forehead look like they might pop, and lead guitarist (Mike McCready) drops a solo so hard that Miley Cyrus’s tongue fell off somewhere.
The album hit number one on the charts this week, but more importantly it’s been embraced by their fans. It’s their best album in years, and shows are selling out quickly. They’re just coming off their recent show at Brooklyn’s shiny new Barclay’s Center and heading into their next round of shows all over the country, but the album’s explosiveness on the charts proves the band’s ability to reinvent and stay relevant. Catch them while you can, because they say rock is dying… and no one has done it better in the last 20 years than Pearl Jam!
Article by Phillip Thompson