With a massive reissue of their debut album, the recording of a new studio album, and tours on 3 continents you'd think that the members of Pearl Jam would have plenty to do. Still, they found time to spring to life with plenty of solo [Eddie, Stone, Mike] performances, as well as reunite great Grunge Era acts like Green River
... and Deranged Diction,
... and Mike treated us to the usual gaggle of Flight to Mars
... and Shadow 86 shows.
Did I miss any? Oh yeah, Temple of the Dog reunites in L.A. for Hunger Strike:
4. Austin City Limits
It is a rare occurrence that we get to dig into Pearl Jam on television. Even rarer that the performance is archived on-line. The opening performance of Just Breathe performed with a string trio is so heartfelt that Pearl Jam distributed it as a video for Backspacer's second single.
The show contained little in the way of live rarities, but the band did transition from softer songs to real face-melting numbers with their usual ease. Look for an acoustic version of Lukin with the string trio and Ben Harper joining the band for Red Mosquito, a favorite of this board.
3. Ten Reissue
It was a busy year for reissues and boxed sets. Maybe you picked up Neil Young's Archives, Volume One, or the Beatles' Mono Box (because seriously? stereo?) or Jane's Addiction's Cabinet of Curiosities or the Beastie Boys' first four Grand Royal album reissues, but if you're a die-hard Pearl Jam, you most definitely picked up the Legacy Edition of Ten, packed with two, TWO versions of Ten on CD and Vinyl, MTV's Unplugged on DVD, the Drop in the Park show on vinyl, a replica of the Mamasan demo tape, and a whole pile of cool stuff jammed into a fancy fabric-covered box.
For those of us without $100+ to drop on this eye-candy collectible could spring for smaller, more affordable versions, depending on exactly what piece of memorabilia meant the most to us. Whichever version you got, you most likely dove into the new Redux version of Ten remixed by Brendan O'Brien and spiked on the end with some rare gems including a remixed version of Brother with words which brought Pearl Jam back to the charts. I'm not sure I even put the remastered version into my CD player. For those of you still clinging to your ugly, pink version of Ten ... why? It's just an evil little goat.
It's a weird combination of guilt and bliss for a Pearl Jam blogger when Pearl Jam news and reviews pour in so fast that you can't even begin to keep up. Even a round-up with links to all the news articles across the country would have crashed TSIS's servers. I felt like I would be behind the game for the rest of time.
Every member of the band was speaking on to the press. Every website that ever covered music news was talking about Backspacer. They were topping the charts. Target was marketing hard. The marketing lead-up with on-line scavenger hunts and free, rare vinyls. All of that, and the album was, in the end, pretty sweet.
There. I'm caught up.
1. The Spectrum
In the heart of a true fan, what could be a better moment than the release of the new album. Well, how about four shows in a row to close out an arena scheduled for destruction? How about 104 separate songs? How about a cover of Whip It in costume as Devo?
Ed on stage with an accordion for the first ever, live performance of Bugs?
Confetti? A balloon drop?
Speed of Sound?
Out of My Mind?
Yes ... I think I am out of my mind, but not about the Spectrum Closer being the greatest Pearl Jam moment in all of 2009.
Pearl Jam's October 27, 28, 30, and 31 shows at Philadelphia's doomed Wachovia Spectrum were a spectacular send off with a set of shows that rivals anything Pearl Jam has done before. They were loose. They were sharp. They were funny. They were melancholy. It was clearly a great moment in Pearl Jam history and the fact that Pearl Jam are still not selling the official bootlegs from those shows has fans whispering "boxed set." Surely, fans will step over their own mother for that one. There never has been, nor is there likely to be another, string of Pearl Jam shows as epic as the four-night farewell to the Spectrum.
Good-bye, Spectrum. Good-bye, 2009.