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Pearl Jam

Thanks to the friend of a friend who couldn’t make it at the last minute, I bagged myself a ticket to the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, where ELO, Yes, Joan Baez, Journey, Nile Rodgers, Tupac and Pearl Jam were being honoured. It’s basically like one big music history lesson inside a mini-concert/giant karaoke session, with a few thank you speeches peppered in between and some surprise guest appearances. In other words, a pretty good time, if a very long evening. Here then, some of my highlights:
  1. ELO opening with a tribute to the late Chuck Berry, the first person to be inducted into the RRHOF 32 years ago. This happened after being inducted by Dhani Harrison, who regaled us with stories of his father George taking him to see ELO for his first concert at age 7.
  2. Silver-haired Joan Baez bringing her flower-power spirit of protest, singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, taking a small dig at President Donald Trump, saying even he would be carried home. She also spoke to her age, saying a lot of people don’t know who she is – “even my granddaughter didn’t know who I was. Until I took her backstage at a Taylor Swift concert.” When she brought out the Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter to sing Woodie Guthrie’s Deportee it felt like I finally had a glimpse of what going to Lilith Fair must’ve been like.
  3. Members of Rush inducting members of YES – including South African Trevor Rabin, who wrote Owner of a Lonely Heart, which they all then played to great delight.
  4. Pharrell waxing lyrical, very literally, about Nile Rodgers and the first time he heard Get Lucky (“It reminded me of a party on an exotic island on another planet”), and then Nile saying all he ever wanted was to have one hit song. $3 billion worth of hits’ later…
  5. Snoop Dogg talked about how he and Tupac shared many firsts – Pac gave him his first joint, and they went parasailing together for the first time.
  6. David Letterman explaining how this video came to be https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwmlzDaRoI4
  7. Michael J Fox being in the audience as Vedder thanked him for talking about how much the song Given to Fly, meant to him in his book.
  8. The Pearl Jam medley which had 99% of the arena in a fan frenzy.
    As song after amazing song was performed, it just reaffirmed that the musician may be getting older (some, very old!), but the songs never do.

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“Live from Brooklyn, it’s Saturday night!” joked Eddie Vedder three songs into the start of the second leg of Pearl Jam’s Brooklyn stop on the Lightning Bolt tour, riffing on the one of the most famous lines in TV. An ordinary Saturday night spent between friends – give or take 17 000 or so – and the band onstage, as they celebrated the release of their 10th studio album with a bunch of new songs to boot.

If you’re someone like me who has never seen Pearl Jam play live before; someone who’s watched with envy as people shared their various concert experiences with the Seattle-born band over its 20-odd-year history in the Cameron-Crowe-directed Twenty, you’ll go into your first PJ experience expecting a lot. The kind of expectations born of the desire to hear as many of the songs from the band’s deep-welled discography.

Of course that’s not going to happen, but when you have Eddie Vedder running the show, you won’t leave disappointed. In his world, no one goes home until two bottles of wine – and some of the band’s best songs ever recorded, Even Flow, Better Man, State of Love & Trust, Alive, Given to Fly, and my personal favourite, Black – are done.

For 3 hours and 2 encores, Pearl Jam rocked the Barclays Centre with an energy belying their age, yet fully in line with their experience as stadium-rockers. The show was full throttle vitality yet filled with light-and-shade moments, and touches of Vedder’s frontman charm – whether he was swinging on one of the hanging light fixtures, throwing out a tambourine into the crowd or upgrading a 12-year old from the front row to a sweet spot in the wings of the stage.

He peppered his antics with his philosophy on life, assuring us that we’re all “a little broken.” As Vedder puts it, “it’s the people who aren’t that we need to be worried about, because broken people can be fixed.” With a few Pearl Jam songs as tonic, that’s entirely plausible.

After a spirited cover of Neil Young’s Rocking in the Free World, the band ended the night with Yellow Ledbetter, a B-side harking back to their debut all those years ago. It was an inspired way to finish the show, which featured a handful of tracks from new album Lightning Bolt – an apt description for the jolt of life they inject into any fan’s soul, whether that fan is seeing them for the fifteenth time, or the first.

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Hello from Banksy’s playground, New York! 

Gravity keeps holding on to its top spot at the North American box office, just as the film opened in other countries this past weekend, including South Africa. Captain Phillips stayed at number two, but the WikiLeaks movie, The Fifth Estate, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, became the year’s worst opener to date.

* Doctor Who fans can watch the specially-shot trailer for the 50th anniversary adventure The Day of the Doctor, featuring all of the Doctor’s in his various incarnations.

* Before Tina and Amy there was Carol. Trailblazing comedienne Carol Burnett has received America’s top comedy award at the Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts.

* Arcade Fire performed two dressed-up shows in Brooklyn this past weekend, as the festival that helped them into the spotlight, CMJ, wrapped up for another year. The Montreal-based band played songs off their forthcoming album, Reflektors.

* Pearl Jam too, performed in Brooklyn, as part of their Lightning Bolt tour. The band performed for 3 hours and 2 encores.

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After surviving an interview with Joaquin Phoenix yesterday, it’s a very warm hello from New York!

* Today Pearl Jam release their 10th studio album, and with it, a reinvigorated tour schedule across North America. Late Night With Jimmy Fallon will help celebrate – next week, star musicians will perform songs from the band’s iconic catalogue.

* Boring awards shows be gone! Amy Poehler and Tina Fey have agreed to host the Golden Globes for 2 years.

* The College Music Journal, aka CMJ Music Marathon officially kicks off in NYC today – giving established and emerging artists the chance to grow their audience over the next few days, as musicians vie for some of that much-coveted buzz groups like The xx and Arcade Fire received in their early days.

* Eminem dropped another new single online off next month’s Marshall Mathers LP2 , declaring himself a Rap God: “I make elevating music, you make elevator music…” Fans will have many a favourite line to choose from in this self-ode to Mathers’ skill and answer to his rhetorical question, ‘why be a king when you can be a god?’

* Netflix will soon have another series for those looking for their next binge fix. The trio of writers behind Damages have been tasked with making a 13-episode psychological thriller series for streaming service. It’ll start production in 2014.

Pic: www.pearljam.com

 

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* After a full-throttle first single, Pearl Jam finally release a second single from the band’s forthcoming Lightning Bolt album. In contrast, Sirens is a bittersweet love-song that we’ll happily take.

* The newest version of Grand Theft Auto has smashed records, bringing in $800 million in the first 24 hours of its release. As for the game itself, it’s being called  ‘the most immersive spectacle in interactive entertainment.’

* With London all wrapped up, eyes now turn to Milan Fashion Week and the show-stoppers expected to be unveiled there. Gucci and DSquared2 opened the Spring 2014 collections there.

* Stephen King is preparing to release The Shining sequel, Doctor Sleep, this coming Tuesday, saying, in an interview with USA Today, that the book picks up 3 years after his gripping novel left off.

* Closing arguments in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial will be heard on Monday, signalling an almost-end in sight for the drawn-out case.

[Pic: PearlJam.com]