When Seattle-based bands like Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam were first hitting the scene and changing the landscape of rock ‘n’ roll, I was becoming a teenager and rebelling from the mainstream. Tracks like Jesus Christ Pose, Lithium, and Alive carried me through my early high school years, and while I gravitated towards the heavier bands more often back then, I always respected Pearl Jam for their message and their music. I wasn’t their biggest fan, but as I got older I found they stayed with me while the rest got pushed aside.
Directed by Cameron Crowe, Pearl Jam Twenty documents the history of the band, starting long before lead singer Eddie Vedder was even in the picture, and celebrates them for all they have accomplished over the last 20 years. Crowe uses a mixture of old footage from when they were just starting out (some of which was shot by Crowe himself, who worked as a music journalist at the time), along with candid interviews and concert performances. There’s a lot here and fans are going to gobble it up.
The one downside the film has is that besides stock clips of Kurt Cobain trashing them, the only real outside voice featured is Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, who formed the secondary band Temple of the Dog with them. He only has nice things to say, which works in the context that it’s a celebration of Pearl Jam, but it would have been nice to hear more stories from others in the industry, whether they were good or bad, to get a more rounded portrait of the group.
Pearl Jam Twenty has given me a totally new appreciation for the band, and if I wasn’t officially hooked on them before, I certainly am now. It’s exciting, educational, and loud, and seeing it on the big screen is probably the next best thing to seeing Pearl Jam live in concert. Even if you’re the slightest bit of a fan, do yourself a favour and get out to see it.
Pearl Jam Twenty screens across Canada for one-night only on September 20 at select Cineplex, Landmark, and Empire Theatres. For a full list of theatres showing it, visit filmswelike.com.
Featuring: Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, Mike McCready, Matt Cameron, Chris Cornell
Directed by: Cameron Crowe
Top image: A scene from Pearl Jam Twenty. Courtesy filmswelike.