Pearl Jam

Live: 8-20-00 - Cincinnati, Ohio

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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 20th concert recorded in Cincinnati, OH, really gets going during the second song, a startlingly energetic version of "Breakerfall" showcasing some interlacing sound architecture from Stone Gossard and Mike McCready. This guitar rock brotherhood is continued through a burning version of "Go," during which Eddie Vedder pushes his voice to the brink of breaking. "Nothing as It Seems" pulses and swells to true arena rock stature, while the deeply personal "Wishlist" seems intimate and heartfelt. The second set opens with Vedder's sweet homage to the Who, performing a solo version of "The Kids Are Alright," mentioning the new bond between the bands due to the nine deaths during Pearl Jam's show at the European Roskilde Festival and the 1979 trampling deaths of 11 people at a Who concert in Cincinnati. The band breaks into the aching "Given to Fly" and tears through the punk-fueled "Do the Evolution" with barely controlled raw power. Then comes a three-song set of songs from their 1991 debut album, Ten ("Jeremy," "Once," "Black"), before a lighthearted cover of the oldies hit "Soldier of Love." The band alternates between heavy rock and warm, introspective songs well, as is evident in the sonic crunch of "Rearview Mirror" and the intimate "Soon Forget" (featuring the introduction: "This is my good friend the ukulele; ukulele I'd like to introduce you to Cincinnati"). The last blast of "Yellow Ledbetter" includes guitarist Mike McCready's tribute to Eddie Van Halen with a snippet from "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love" and a riff from Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold," leaving the crowd with smiles on their faces. Vedder states rather eloquently, "We haven't had too many sh*tty nights this tour and we've had a lot of good ones, but this one's been really really good," and he's not far from the truth. This is one to pick up.

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