Rock 'n' roll is at its
best when it's a spirited discourse between people who care passionately
about the music, and to that end, this column occasionally dives into the
mailbag for a sampling of feedback from its readers. Here's the latest
After reading your review of Pearl Jam at the United Center [May 18], I felt
compelled to ask: Aren't you being a bit harsh on the band? I attended
Wednesday night's show and thought they did an outstanding job. The audience
seemed to enjoy the hell out it, and even the band seemed to be having a
good time -- a rare combination in my years of attending concerts.
It is 2006, not 1994 nor
1995. Perhaps they can't achieve "the sheer physicality" of those years
because, gee, the band members are 11 or 12 years older. And perhaps Eddie
Vedder is playing more guitar these days because he's aging, along with the
rest of the band, as well as their fans; the idea of thrashing himself into
a lather or diving into a mosh pit probably holds as little appeal to Mr.
Vedder as it does to my 40-year-old self.
What little I know about
art is that true talent needs to take chances in order to grow and continue.
If a painter keeps creating the same painting, or a novelist keeps writing
the same sort of book over and over, critics call them hacks. Without any
gamble art ceases to be art. Pearl Jam has had the guts to defy
expectations, and granted, it hasn't always worked. But I have far more
respect for that approach than other musicians who deliver the same product
year after year simply because it "works" and guarantees a consistent
Glen A. Moore
If your review is
accurate, how do explain the continued success of this band all over the
world, not just the United States? You didn't like [Pearl Jam's] "meandering
jams"; did you ever actually listen to an album or did you just catch the
hits on MTV? Their first album was cherished for those meandering jams in
songs like "Oceans" and "Release." Nothing can touch "Ten," but would you
wear the jeans that made you look hot when you were 19 if, now, you were 35?
Be realistic! The band has matured and evolved and their fan base (which is
monstrous) has too. What are you a Slipknot fan or something?
Comparing fans of Pearl
Jam with the Grateful Dead is like comparing fans of the Bulls and the
Grateful Dead. Bulls fans love the Bulls, even though they are awful and
lost to the Wizards last year with home court advantage, but yet they still
come to the games and cheer.
Just watch what happens
in the next 20 years. You wouldn't have written a story like this if the
Dead comparison wasn't absolutely true. Pearl Jam is this generation's Dead.
Generation X'ers grew up with Pearl Jam and they are the only ones that are
still around. You absolutely feel nostalgia towards music you had your first
kiss, first love, first heartbreak, teen angst, first drive, first
everything to ... That's what Pearl Jam is to people in their 20s to 30s. If
they stick together, and I will bet anything they will, as they release new
albums, our kids will want to come on tour, too.
I've seen Pearl Jam
twice, once opening for Smashing Pumpkins and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the
other time at Lollapalooza. They used to be great. I have to say last
night's show was a MAJOR disappointment. What I saw was a bunch of aging men
going through the motions. There was absolutely no passion, and I felt like
they were more of a bar band.
Eddie Vedder sounded
pretty good on "Release," but went down after that. Matt Cameron, who I
consider one of the best drummers in rock 'n' roll, was kind of soft. He
seemed like a zombie behind his drums. Mike McCready was the only one in the
band who seemed to have some enthusiasm, but he looked like Keith Richards
imitating Jimi Hendrix. Playing his guitar behind his neck? Come on! The
next tour will have two female back-up singers I bet. I think this band has
been stagnant since they released "Vitalogy," and haven't grown into a great
Michael S. Kaplan
I just read your Pearl
Jam review and I couldn't agree with you more. You pretty much nailed it,
especially when you said "often sloppy, lackluster or generic sounds
generated on stage." You were correct when characterizing it as "a long,
long night" unnecessarily filled with "annoyingly self-indulgent, unfurling
endless high register 'wheedle wheedle wheedle' solos rather than the
impressive rhythm-guitar pummelings of old." I did, however, really enjoy
the green lasers, which I first saw at the Bob Seger/Foghat concert in 1976.