Pearl Jam

Live: 8-24-00 - Jones Beach, New York

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In a move to beat bootleggers to the punch, Pearl Jam decided to release each of their 2000 American concert performances in a series of inexpensive double-CD sets. The August 24th concert recorded in Jones Beach, NY, shows the band settling into the venue during the second show of a three-day stint. With the exception of "Courduroy,") the band's first several songs are among their brashest and most punk-influenced, possibly inspired by noise rock openers Sonic Youth. Eddie Vedder's voice seems rough from the previous night's performance, and guitarist Mike McCready gets "Dissident" off to an ugly start with some missed notes and fumbled playing. With most bands this would not be worth mentioning, but his playing is usually so flawless that the slightest flub really jumps out. The first set eventually settles down, but is still troubled by a rushed and hurried version of the tragic love song "Daughter" which sounds as if Vedder is jogging alongside the musicians, trying to keep up with their furious pace. The song is helped slightly by injecting sections of "It's OK" by Portland, OR, indie rock band Dead Moon, but still loses some of its poignancy in its breakneck speed. The second set follows with the same reckless energy which was probably fantastic live, but comes off a little breathless on the recording. Their semi-acoustic version of "Small Town" is hampered by an annoyingly tinny guitar sound, but the revamped "Crazy Mary" benefits from a warmly distorted guitar sound and straightforward drumming from former Soundgarden member Matt Cameron. The arena rock guitar soloing in "Black" sounds blissfully appropriate in this open air venue, and the last songs blister with a controlled intensity that was missing from the rest of the night. Their version of J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers' "Last Kiss" (complete with a few humorously forgotten lines) leads into the bluesy "Yellow Ledbetter," including McCready's tribute to the Rolling Stones and the Who, playing snippets from "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Substitute." The last quarter of the show really shines, but doesn't fully make up for the mistakes made during the majority of the concert. Luckily, the band more than outdoes themselves the following night in Jones Beach on the August 25th recording.

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