Okay, so I didn’t have this blog on October 22, so this is a one-month late post in honor of the FIFTEEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY of the first Pearl Jam show (under the name Mookie Blaylock) at the Off-Ramp Cafe in Seattle on 10/22/90. I know, how has it been 15 years? Does this mean I am getting old? Holy crap!
So here is a little mix of some of my favorite Pearl Jam live cuts and covers.
From the 1996 Pearl Jam Christmas Single Vinyl
It is impossible to listen to this version of this song without smiling. I’ve never heard such a combination of growling screams with harmonica. I love the churning feeling of this song. “I miss you already…” – listen to the Spanish crowd singing along throughout the entire song, it gives me shivers.
I could just stop the collection after that last track and go home satisfied, it’s *that* good. Man. But, one song does not equal a mix, and there is so much good stuff out there….
Beast of Burden
(Brixton Academy in London 7/14/93)
Pearl Jam’s very loose interpretation of the Stones get-down-with-your-sexy-self classic. They obviously take this humorously. The best line, in true self-effacing not-a-rock-god style, is “All I want is for you to make love to me…that’s just in the song, I don’t mean it.”
(Benaroya Hall in Seattle, 10/22/03)
This one is in here because of the funny little guitar mess-up on the solo by Stone Gossard and how everyone gets a laugh out of it. Ed comments, “There was no chance of getting away with that one.” As soon as the song ends, you can hear Stone play the solo perfectly (“See?”) and then you also hear Mike do the same, rubbing it in. Ha! Even guitar gods make mistakes sometimes. Stone still rocks my socks off.
Ed Vedder with Death Cab For Cutie (11/09/2004 in Seattle)
While not technically a “Pearl Jam” performance, Vedder and DCFC do a nice cover of The La’s song Timeless Melody. I find it to be a sweet blending of voices, with Vedder’s richer deep voice and Gibbards pleasant gentle one. Great comment from Gibbard at the end: “You know, sometimes I wish I could talk to the 14 year-old me and tell him what the 28 year-old me was doing. Cuz I don’t think he’d f***kin’ believe that shit right there!” I believe I would feel that same way, Ben.
Do The Evolution
Switching gears from dreamy pop, let’s face a wall of guitars and a screaming, angry, almost manic Ed. This version of DTE sends chills up my spine so I put it on here. Second night of the Yield tour, they open with this cut, with THAT riff being the first notes heard. Here’s the thoughts of a friend who was there: “McCready’s unexpectedly flailing around the stage like he used to in 1992, Stone’s over on his side, leaning back, slicing at the strings like he does when he’s playing his best, the crowd unifying the whole experience by screaming.” It’s gonna be a good night.
I Am A Patriot
(Tibetan Freedom Concert, 6/13/99)
Another cover, this one originally by Steve Van Zandt. But I don’t think Van Zandt ever rocked it like this. I’d heard PJ do this track live before, but it was always much slower in keeping with the original. This one is significantly better than the original (sorry Steve), and all punked out â€“ jump around, you Tibetan freedom-ers! One of my favorite tunes to play on the 4th of July.
State of Love and Trust
(Singles Release Party, Park Plaza Hotel Ballroom in LA, 9/10/92 )
Fittingly this excellent live cut comes from the premiere/release party for the Singles movie, with its ace soundtrack, of which this gem is a part. Starts with a nice tag from Mudhoney’s song “Overblown,” about Seattle – “Everybody loves us, everybody loves our town,” and continues to blast the eardrums of all the Hollywood executive-types gathered to fete the film. Their three-song set ended with Chris Cornell and Jerry Cantrell, among others, all getting up on stage with Pearl Jam to belt Rockin’ In The Free World.
(Jones Beach, NY, 8/24/00)
Dead Moon cover
Because I am sucker for a good singalong. And this is a good singalong.
(Saturday Night Live, 4/16/94)
Because a good live rendition of Rearviewmirror leaves you sweaty, breathless, and drained, but exhilarated in your soul. This is one of those. This is a tight rendition from ’94 when they played it with simmering anger (but because this is live on TV, we get the homogenized lyrics of “I gather speed, you’re so lucky with me”). I have this on video still, and I can picture the way Vedder turns his head after the line, “I am not about to give thanks (No!)â€¦.” and almost spits in anger. And he nails the emotion on that drawn-out “rearviewmiiiiirooooorâ€¦” at the end of the bridge, and I love the way Abbruzzese nails the build on the drums at the frenetic end.
(Sorpasso, Italy 2/18/92)
Okay, had to add one more track for a couple of reasons. First and foremost is THE SCREAM that kicks off Leash. Makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand straight up. This is an early, early version of Leash, one of the first times they performed it live, and it is just out of control. Secondly, this is a beautiful (almost) a capella rendition of Hunger Strike. Finally, it is in my beloved Italy and I love the enthusiasm of the tifosi italiani (Italian fans) – listen to the dude wailing the back-ups to Hunger Strike! This was when Pearl Jam was playing for mere hundreds, and this particular venue was overpacked (in Italy? never!). The enthusiasm comes through in the music, and you can almost picture the roiling, sweaty crowd. I wouldn’t have wanted to be down in the front for this one . . . Okay, yes I would have.
And *that* is why I love them.