Live On Ten Legs, Pearl Jam’s latest live LP, is designed to document their 2003-2010 world tours and is the spiritual descendent of their first ever live album Live On Two Legs which captured the band in the midst of their 1998 North American tour.
The intervening thirteen years saw Pearl Jam release no less than five live albums, and when approaching Live on Ten Legs you cannot help but question the purpose of its existence.
The album effectively documents Pearl Jam’s transition into the 21st Century, drawing heavily on their post-2000 works Binaural, Riot Act, Pearl Jam and Backspacer, integrating them effortlessly alongside their classic grunge era material. Unfortunately, while the execution is consistently crisp and professional, Live on Ten Legs feels too controlled and too contrived.
Everything is in its right place on this record, the super serious facade that Pearl Jam popularised in arena rock circles dominates, and there is no room for the chaos or frantic energy you’d expect from a rock and roll show.
Even when paying tribute to punk (and post-punk) pioneers Joe Strummer and Public Image Ltd, Vedder remains constrained; offering perfectly rehearsed covers of “Arms Aloft” and “Public Image” devoid of the unpredictable and unsettling edge that made those tracks classics.
Regardless Live on Ten Legs is still a slickly executed and enjoyable live LP that is sure to satisfy long-time fans and curious newcomers alike, even if it is unlikely to thrill or inspire them.
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