Pearl Jam

Live: 8-14-00 - New Orleans, Louisiana

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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 14th concert recorded in New Orleans, LA, begins with their contribution to the Dead Man Walking soundtrack, "Long Road," which features some interesting stereo backup vocals from the rest of the band. The first set relies heavily on material from their more recent albums, while the second disc is almost entirely older songs and covers. Things don't really seem to gel until late in the first set, when the band drifts into a note-perfect rendition of "Betterman," a blazing version of "Animal," and the best version of "Once" available on these concert discs. High-energy rockers like the fantastic version of "Go" and the brash "Do the Evolution" are balanced with the more subdued "Jeremy" and "Crazy Mary" which is preceded by frontman Eddie Vedder's anecdote about riding bikes around the French Quarter with songwriter Victoria Williams. Other truly spectacular renditions of songs from their 1991 debut ("Black," "Porch") lead into their version of J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers' "Last Kiss" and a punk-infused cover of the Dead Boys' "Sonic Reducer." The closer, "Yellow Ledbetter," includes guitarist Mike McCready's tribute to Eddie Van Halen with a "Cathedral"-styled riff thrown in for good measure. The few unfortunate moments on the first disc are a real shame, because the second set is so strong it could stand as one of the best of this series of concert recordings.

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