Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Live at Benaroya Hall
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock, Hard Rock & Metal
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Live can't be much Livelier
Erik J. Malvick | Davis, CA | 09/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been an on and off fan of Pearl Jam since their first album. I've had mixed feelings from previous live recordings, and one thing has become obvious... Pearl Jam is a group that feeds off their audience and emotions. That being said, Live at Benaroya is not only the best Pearl Jam performance I've heard, but perhaps the best ever by anyone I've heard.
I love live albums, and I love groups who show the talent to be able to play live. Pearl Jam does it all including mixing in covers, and playing more than just the standard favorites. I love what they've done here. They put in some great Pearl Jam classics such as Daughter, Black, Yellow Ledbetter, some covers such as 25 minutes to go and Crazy Mary, and mixed it in with some less popular but still awesome songs... All of this, and it is done acoustically.
It isn't the easiest thing to go acoustically, and one can often see how talented a group truly is. This album shows not only how talented Pearl Jam is, but when looked at with Nirvana's Unplugged album, how talented these "grunge" artist are/were.
I really enjoy the energy here. You get the energy from the audience with songs like Black, and you get it from the band such as 25 minutes to Go. As a side note, this has to be the first time I've ever heard someone sing the FULL lyrics to 25 minutes to go. This isn't just a cover of Johnny Cash's classic (he never sang the full 25), it is a tribute to Shel Silverstein who wrote it.
Thank you Pearl Jam for giving one of the best live performances I've ever heard..."
J. N. Mohlman | Barrington, RI USA | 11/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Every Pearl Jam show is special: with two hour sets being the minimum and flat out performances every time out, this is a band that has defined itself through live performances. Nonetheless, there are some shows that stand out; one might call them the platinum shows of a band that has made gold the standard. Benaroya Hall is undeniably one of those shows; a semi-acoustic set (one can't expect Mike to put away the electric for the whole night, can one?), it is like no other Pearl Jam show. An incredible collection of twenty-six songs, it is a far more sedate performance than one normally gets (with a few notable exceptions), but no less impassioned for it.
The show starts off with a great version of "Of the Girl"; incredibly tight, the guys easily could have turned this into a two hour jam and I don't think anyone would have minded much. Next is "Low Light"; this is such an incredible song that wasn't performed live for long, every performance is unique, but this is probably the best I've heard (and that includes the one I saw live). Ed's voice is simply magisterial and the backing is haunting. "Thumbing My Way" and "Thin Air" are naturals for an acoustic set, and both are beautifully performed, with one slight flub in the latter making the performance all the more intimate.
These standards are followed up by "Fatal" from the "Lost Dogs" compilation. If this performance is any indication, this is going to be an amazing live song, and will hopefully become a regular in the setlist rotation for future tours. Mike goes electric on "Nothing As it Seems", and the result is a great rendition. That's followed up by the first ever performance of "Man of the Hour" and it's superb, even better than the studio version, with Ed's voice again in amazing form.
"Immortality" is one of my personal favorites and this performance is probably the best I've heard, including an incredible solo from Stone (I think, it could be Mike) in the middle. "Off He Goes" is another acoustic standard (with a little electric thrown in), and is beautifully performed. "Around the Bend" is another song that is rarely played live, but the band is nonetheless incredibly tight on this lovely little lullaby. Unique to this version is a lilting little tune played on the piano; I would assume it was played by Boom, but the crowd reaction and the relatively clumsy fingering makes me think it was actually Ed. "I Believe in Miracles" has never been one of my favorite covers (The Ramones) but I have to say the acoustic version was pretty unique and well worth a listen.
I've really never been a fan of "Sleight of Hand" as it's pretty self indulgent and overwrought. Nothing about this performance changes that opinion, but to be fair, it is technically proficient and well performed; fans of the song will definitely appreciate this version. That's followed up by "All or None" which is one of the more overlooked songs from "Riot Act" and which is ideal for a small venue. The performance doesn't disappoint, with superb vocals from Ed, timely keyboards from Boom and an amazing electric solo from Mike. It's reminiscent of the version from Mansfield III, but even better in my opinion. The disc ends with a bit of a shocker, "Lukin", which in spite of a tongue in cheek intro from Stone indicating they would slow it down was torn through at the usual hypersonic speed. Nonetheless, the acoustic guitar backing did make for an interesting change of pace.
The second disc kicks off with "Parting Ways", which doesn't seem like a logical choice for an acoustic set. However, stripped down to its bare bones this song is even more powerful than usual and is one of the highlights of the show, and offers another amazing vocal performance from Ed. "Down" is actually even more fun acoustic, another reviewer likened it to a Tom Petty song and that's a spot on description.
After the encore break there are two solo offerings from Ed: "Can't Keep" and "Dead Man". "Can't Keep" is one of my favorites from "Riot Act" and this acoustic/solo version is incredible; in addition to solid singing it features some pretty nifty fingering on the guitar. There's no arguing that "Dead Man" is an incredible song, but this version is much better than the studio release because Ed is singing at a level that can actually be heard by humans and, again, his guitar playing is excellent.
Next the full band returns for an absolutely scorching version of Bon Dylan's "Masters of War". Spot on and incredibly intense, this is another highlight of the show. "Black" is likewise intense and Ed's voice really soars; he also has the crowd sing the last verse and they do an amazing job of belting it out - very reminiscent of State College. This is followed up by two covers The first, "Crazy Mary", is familiar to even the most passing Pearl Jam fan, and one which they have really made their own, although Boom's amazing solos at the end have definitely added some punch to it. The second is a Johnny Cash song, "25 Minutes to Go". I've never heard the original, so I can't comment on how it differs from Cash's version, but I can say Ed does a pretty good Cash, and the song is a pretty amazing up-tempo tune that captures all of Cash's subtle humor.
The show ends with an extended version of "Daughter" that includes snippets from "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" by the Beatles and "It's OK" by Dead Moon. Things wrap up in fairly typical fashion with the always outstanding "Yellow Ledbetter".
Put simply, this is a must have for the serious fan, but also introduces a whole news aspect of Pearl Jam to the more casual fan. A simply amazing show!
Masterpiece Performance, Audiophile Sound
Music Enthusiast | Glendale, CA | 07/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a mostly acoustic performance of an entire benefit show. While Pearl Jam has released their entire 2000 tour in stores, and 2003 tour from a website (5 shows in stores), this one is very different. Rather than adapting hard rocking songs to an acoustic format, they dug deep into their large catalog of slower songs and either played them close to the original, or took an acoustic approach.
The spread of the 24 songs across their albums is as follows... Binaural(5), Yield(1), Riot Act(3), Lost Dogs(4), Originals not on an album(1), Vitalogy(1), No Code(3), Covers(4), Ten(1), Vs.(1).
Sound Quality... The 2000 bootlegs were pretty poor by today's standards, the 2003 bootlegs were much much better. Benaroya is incredible. Partly because it is acoustic, mostly due to the fact that Benaroya Hall is a orchestra hall specifically designed for sound. That, plus better recording and mixing equipment, and adequate time to master. There is a lot of bass, and kickdrum. The room ambience is clearly felt upon playback. Put away the Windex, the reason you can't see through your mirror isn't dirt, it is vibrating. Clear separation of the instruments, and vocals are clear and forward. Really good soundstage. When used, electric guitar is mixed fairly low and not oppressive.
Songs... Of the girl is close to the original with great coloration with the electric guitar. A masterful performance. Low Light is rarely played, and in the past sounded tentative. Best version I've heard. Thumbing my way was perfect and very close to the original. Thin air sounds strong but contains a blunder in a transitional guitar piece. Band jokes after which makes it funny. First ever performance of Fatal. Sounds much better than the Lost Dogs version. Stronger. Rousing rendition of Nothing as it seems. Mike is on fire. Man of the hour only days old, band makes a rousing performance. Marred by microphone feedback. Immortality, and the acoustic solo and jam is a concert highlight which will send chills down your spine. Off he goes features Mike McCready really stepping out adding electric coloration. Way better than the album version. Around the bend played for the 1st time in 5 years. Really nice guitar and piano. I believe in miracles(Ramones) reengineered for acoustic. Very well done. Sleight of hand- one of the best performances. Expose of band's talent and overall sound quality of this recording. All or none features a rousing solo by Mike McCready. Lukin features the band joking about acoustic performances as they play it as original. Parting Ways done acoustically features Eddie Vedder's talents and is better than the original. Down is exactly like the original but acoustic. Sounds like a Tom Petty song. Can't Keep is Ed alone with a ukulele. Very rousing. Dead Man is also Ed solo but electric. Almost identical with the version on Lost Dogs. And then, out of nowhere, comes Dylan's Masters of War (Freewheeling). This is angry and spinechilling. Ed's voice goes full range. This is a highlight as this is gripping. Then comes the best version of Black I've ever heard. Acoustic does this justice. The crowd sings the climax and McCready does one of the most appropriate solos of his career. With the sound quality, you capture that magical moment in your home. Crazy Mary features Kenneth "Boom" Gaspar on organ. That's not booing at the end, the crowd is cheering for Boom. 25 Minutes to go features Ed's vocals and the band's diversity. A true show highlight. Daughter was done in the typical live fashion. Stone used a real acoustic guitar rather than an acoustic effect on electric. Made it sound much better this way. Yellow Ledbetter was done in the usual live fashion except, with the superior sound quality of this venue, it grips you.
If you like this one... here are some other recommendations:
Binaural - 5 songs from Binaural played here and others are very good
Lost Dogs - If you like mellower Pearl Jam, disk 2 is full of it
No Code - Very diverse, mellower
Mansfield 7/11/03 - Disk 1 is an acoustic set like this one, some overlap but many others not in Benaroya.
Man of the hour (Amazon exclusive) - Track 1 is the song, Track 2 is the original demo.
Merkinball - 2 Songs, Long Road is similar to Benaroya's "ambience".