Live On Two Legs

Pearl Jam

Epic Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I was fortunate enough to attend a Pearl Jam concert this year in support of their last album Yield, but I don't remember much of it. It wasn't that I was under the influence of some substance. No, it was because one girl who was in the luxury suite I was invited to was completely bombed, and decided to strike up a conversation throughout almost the whole goddamn show. I had to quickly abandon my plans of reviewing the show, and slowly learned to tune out both the drunk and the little I could hear of the band. (I really shouldn't complain; the tickets and parking were free.)

So I was more than a little excited about the release of Live On Two Legs, the live album documenting this last tour. (Although it's called their Pearl Jam's first official live album, you could argue that the import-only Live In Atlanta, a three-single set, holds that honor. One of these days I'll review that on these pages.) At last, I could get an idea of just what I missed that evening.

It's interesting to hear Eddie Vedder actually introducing the tracks more than once, something I don't remember him doing at the show in the United Center. Vedder, always known to be on the shy side, actually seems to connect with the audience throughout these 16 tracks. I would even dare to say that Vedder's singing is more relaxed; this is the most natural-sounding I've heard Vedder in a concert setting. For that matter, the band seems to have a new level of excitement kicked into the music. Whether this is due to the addition of ex-Soundgarden drummer Mike McCready to the lineup I don't know, but there is a noticeable difference.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The set list is a good representation of Pearl Jam's career so far - a nice surprise, considering that this was supposed to have been a two-disc set before the holiday deadline hit. Whether you're a fan of the band's old days ("Even Flow," "Black") or you really caught a vibe off the tracks from Yield ("Given To Fly," "Off He Goes," "Do The Evolution"), there is something that everyone can appreciate on this album. The live versions of tracks from Yield actually have made me want to run out and pick this album up. (Believe it or not, I still have yet to buy this one - gimme a break, budget restrictions.)

If I had to level one criticism against this album, it would be a simple one: I would have liked to have seen the two-disc set. Nothing against this album, which is incredibly tight and is an example of the right way to do a live album. But there is so much more material that Vedder et al. could have thrown into the mix to bring even more smiles to the fans. Then again, had this been stretched to a two-disc, I might have been questioning if we really needed to hear another version of "Alive" or "Jeremy". Maybe the band knew something the critics were expecting. Still, there's bound to be some disappointment if you see a favorite track of yours didn't make the cut.

What eventually makes Live On Two Legs a winner for me is the spontaneous feeling of the show, down to throwing a snippet of "W.M.A." (from Vs.) at the end of "Daughter" - a space usually reserved for a sample of "Another Brick In The Wall". Where Live In Atlanta sounded like the band was going through the motions, Live On Two Legs makes you feel as excited as if you were in the first few rows of the show.

I've heard many live albums that have disappointed me in the past; Live On Two Legs is not one of those. In fact, it makes me that much more upset that I probably missed out on one helluva show thanks to another inebriated concert-goer. While this disc doesn't take the place of being at the show, it's a close second.

Rating: A

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.