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Classic Album Reviews: Pearl Jam | Live: Perth, Australia, Feb. 23, 2003 / Live: Tokyo, Japan, March 3, 2003

The Seattle stalwarts beat the bootleggers with these outstanding live releases.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


I would love to tell you precisely how many Pearl Jam live albums there are right now, but I can’t. Not because am too lazy to count them (although I am), but because the band now rush-release two-disc “bootleg” albums of virtually every show they play in order to keep one step ahead of the bootleggers (not to mention the statisticians). But I can offer you a few facts and figures about these two recent no-frills releases, which were picked up by Sony for major-label retail distribution:

Live: Perth, Australia, Feb. 23, 2003

TIME: 126 minutes.

SONGS: 27.

CLASSICS: Even Flow, Jeremy, Betterman, Alive.

COOL COVERS: A downtempo version of Victoria WilliamsCrazy Mary; an acoustic rendition of Hunters & Collectors Throw Your Arms Around Me, featuring Eddie Vedder and songwriter Mark Seymour; and — best of all — a raucous rendition of the Creedence Clearwater Rrevival landmark Fortunate Son, featuring a guest appearance by ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr.

REVIEW: Recorded on the last night of their Australian tour, this set captures the band on an energized, upbeat night. After opening with the sluggish Long Road (from the 1995 Merkin Ball EP), they tear through raw renditions of recent rockers like Save You, God’s Dice, Corduroy and Get Right. Naturally, the show includes a hefty dose of their most recent album Riot Act, but the inclusion of the classic Jeremy is a bonus for old fans. Plus that CCRMarr cut is a nice treat. The real star of the show, though, is not Vedder but lead guitarist Mike McCready, who is in the zone for the entire show, burning through the fast numbers and smoking on the slow ones. His solo on Even Flow is practically worth the price of admission all by itself.


Live: Tokyo, Japan, March 3, 2003

TIME: 140 minutes.

SONGS: 30.

CLASSICS: Release, Even Flow, Betterman, Betterman, Black, Alive.

COVERS: An electrifying take on The Clash’s Know Your Rights; an encore of their hit remake of the teen tragedy classic Last Kiss; Eddie’s pretty little solo version of Cat StevensDon’t Be Shy; a snippet of Edwin Starr’s War tossed into Daughter.

REVIEW: Although this gig is more of a slow-burner than the Perth show — the band start off gently with Release, ramping up into Can’t Keep and Even Flow — this set is bigger and better in almost every way. It’s nearly 15 minutes longer and has three extra cuts; Eddie offers up some pidgin Japanese and monosyllabic English between songs (“Pearl Jam Budokan eight years? … Soundgarden Budokan no; Matt Cameron Pearl Jam Budokan yes!”); the set list offers up unexpected treats like Blood, Breath, Black and Lukin; McCready is almost as good here as he is in Perth; and that blistering cover of Know Your Rights is easily worth the price of admission all by itself.