Movie Review: Pearl Jam Twenty

As Kurt Cobain said, at first i didn’t like them, they were all that was wrong with music, but now i think they are actually a pretty cool band.    Back in the early 90’s change was all that we were hearing.   Nirvana came along and challenged the likes of Guns N’ Roses and Metallica, rock’s biggest acts.     It came along with a fresh aggressive punkish new way, leaving complexity aside and concentrating on bringing the pure experience of music to the masses.   Along them, the Seattle music movement was growing and moving along them.   Bands like Mother Love Bone and Soundgarden led the way.    The death of Mother Love Bone’s Lead singer Andrew Wood’s left Seattle’s music scene in shock, and completely changed the tracks of music history.  Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament would recluit Eddie Vedder from San Diego to continue Andrew Wood’s legacy, in their new band Mookie Blaylock.  At this point Pearl Jam was born.

After twenty years, Pearl Jam continues to this day to be one of rock’s most admired acts.   They’ve always been a band for their fans, from the continuing changing set lists, to their battle with Ticketmaster.    From the beginning it was apparent that Eddie Vedder wasn’t your typical front man.    The timid youngster from San Diego would transform himself into one of the most exciting rockstars of our generation.

This Documentary takes us from the days of Mother Love Bone  to the band’s latest album Backspacer.  It’s an emotional roller coaster i didn’t expect and even though i stopped following the band just when almost everybody did, i couldn’t help feeling really connected to them.      Pearl Jam Twenty defines grunge music for what it was, how it was felt and how it has evolved.    Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell breaks down when he talks about his relationship and death of his good friend and lead singer for Mother Love Bone, Andy Wood.   You can immediately understand the importance of this young man to the Seattle Music Scene.     The connection that these bands had is unheard of these days.   They all wanted to help each other out, they wanted to make music, art.  They didn’t care about mainstream success.   Maybe that is why they eventually had it.   Nirvana also felt that way, and for a moment misinterpreted Pearl Jam’s position as a rock band and labeled them as sellouts.  Eventually they would apologize.

The death of Kurt Cobain was felt around the world.   It was sort of a Déjà Vu moment.   Andy Wood’s death was relived in a bigger way.   On Pearl Jam’s tenth anniversary show, Eddie Vedder finally suggested on playing a song by Wood. It was a big moment in Pearl Jam’s career, as they finally seemed to close that circle.

I was really moved by this documentary.   I’m a big fan of Pearl Jam’s live shows because of their intensity.   They come up on stage and give all the energy you could ever ask of a band.  They leave everything there.   Vedder is probably responsible for this.    It’s very interesting to listen to today’s Eddie, a more mellow sort of quite guy,  more at peace.     Footage from the early 90’s suggests a crazier younger version of Eddie, as you watch the documentary, you can easily see what made him become the man he is today.

The death of iconic rockstars, battles with corporate America, the death of innocent fans in a concert, reinvention of the band and 10 albums later, we have a mature band in front of us that still wants to rock the hell out of arenas and give their fans their money’s worth.  All this because once, twenty years ago, they were that, just fans.

8.7 out of 10.0


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