Pearl Jam

Soldier Field Live

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This double-disc set was issued as a limited-edition collector's piece by Chicago's all-powerful alt-rock radio station Q101 to commemorate Pearl Jam's July 11, 1995, concert at a sold-out Soldier Field. Of course, the fact that it was offered as an exclusive souvenir predominantly to record-industry hotshots automatically ensured that virtually every single piece distributed instantly wound up in used CD stores -- about as clever as asking a junkie to hold your stash for you. Capturing the Seattle rockers at a time when they simply could do no wrong in either fans' or critics' eyes -- before their over-cooked anti-Ticketmaster stance and disappointing fourth album, No Code, finally began eroding their picture-perfect facade -- this set benefits from crystal clear sound, plenty of witty/irritating (depending on one's mood) Eddie Vedder repartee, and no small number of thrilling musical moments. Serious fanatics will salivate at the odd B-side and non-album cuts ("I Got Shit," "Yellow Ledbetter"), excellent cover versions (Sly & the Family Stone's "Everyday People," Pete Townshend's "Let My Love Open the Door"), and sneak previews of new material from the then-impending No Code ("Habit," "Lukin"), while others will simply enjoy hearing truly stellar performances of smash hits like "Jeremy," "Daughter," "Alive," "Rearview Mirror," "Black," and more. Among the interesting tidbits for the trivia fans out there, this show took place in the same location and just a couple of days following what proved to be the final Grateful Dead concert prior to Jerry Garcia's death, and in a fitting tribute, Vedder dedicates "Even Flow" to local underground legend and hobo schizophrenic Wesley Willis.