Eddie Vedder: vocals, guitar; Stone Gossard: guitar, vocals; Jeff Ament: bass guitar; Mike McCready: lead guitar; Dave Abbruzzese: drums
This swashbuckling performance was captured on April 3, 1994 at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia. Recorded about 8 months before Pearl Jam dropped its third LP, Vitalogy, the Seattle quintet is in top form, cruising through a brilliant 18-song setlist.
Opening with the swirling "Release," Pearl Jam keeps the intensity up, especially on barnstorming versions of crowd favorites "Rearviewmirror," "Evenflow," and "Why Go." Eddie Vedder — who, when plugged in, is unquestionably one of the greatest frontmen of his era — delivers a captivating, energetic performance that drives the band forward. Lead guitarist Mike McCready is also on fire, doling out face-melting solos throughout the show, especially on a 10-plus minute version of "Porch." Another of the set's highlights comes at the end, when Vedder leads the group through a soulful rendition of the emotional "Indifference."
This show is a perfect example of what a powerful, ferocious live show Pearl Jam could put on in their prime. As they've gotten older, the group has continued to be an excellent live band, but this show really shows the intensity and relentless passion that the group had in their early days.
Pearl Jam wrestled '70s-style stadium rock and '80s post-punk to the ground with a heavy dose of angry, riff-laden lyrics to become the voice of Gen X teenagers. Sharing its Seattle roots with Nirvana, Pearl Jam set off with their 1991 smash debut Ten followed by Vs. (1993) and Vitalogy (1994) to paint the appealingly bleak picture of death, depression and general darkness that would be called grunge rock.
Eddie Vedder, the San Diego surfer who earned his spot in the band after he overdubbed lyrics on the demo, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and Dave Krusen were onboard for Ten, but the line-up changed several times after that to feature Dave Abbruzzese on drums and later Jack Irons, formerly of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Pearl Jam achieved huge success with a string of early MTV and radio hits and an appearance at the second Lollapalooza, but they were independent enough to spurn conventional rock concert venues and long stretches on the road and instead played smaller arenas.
Engaged in a dispute with Ticketmaster over high concert ticket prices, the band canceled their 1994 summer concert tour and retreated to the studio. Ultimately losing the suit against the ticket giant, the band recorded with Neil Young, set off on a brief period of independent ventures and returned in 1996 with No Code. The disc was a mix of styles that failed to please even ardent fans, but the harder rocking Yield (1998) benefited from a dedicated world tour launched from Australia. The group's popularity grew stronger after four successful albums in the 2000's. Pearl Jam's eight 2003 international and state-side tours were recorded live and released as full-concert albums. As with most successful bands, Pearl Jam has matured with their fans and can be found, in whole or in part, singing or signing for charity, engaged in political activist causes or even, occasionally, on Letterman.