Alive and still kicking

by Gazette Reporter
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TEN albums since Ten, and Pearl Jam endure, inspiring a passion and devotion few acts on either side of the Atlantic can claim to have with their audience.

An all-too-infrequent visitor to these shores, PJ have been responsible for some of the most memorable concert moments of the two decades, adding to their fanbase with each new generation, many of whom come to the feast on the back of that still magnificent debut release.

Sequenced in a similar fashion to 2000’s Binaural, Lightning Bolt showcases a more contemplative Pearl Jam than lined up for the hard and fast delivery that marked out 2010’s Backspacer.

That’s not to say that this is a lesser effort by any means. In their pantheon, this is one of the growers – an album that demands repeated listening to tune in to its frequency and once locked, is unshakable.

Speeding from the gates comes a trio of rockers, including lead track, Mind Your Manners, recalling Vitalogy’s Spin The Black Circle, and the raging My Father’s Son, bringing a new maturity to the familiar themes of familial ties previously explored in their back catalogue through the personal lyrics of Eddie Vedder.

Then the pace slows for  Sirens, the kind of beautiful, timeless meditation that Pearl Jam have come to craft so well in recent years.

But we’re back on the rollercoaster for the title track, filled with homage to The Who, Boom Gaspan’s stabbing keyboard fills counterpointing the twin guitar lines, and Swallowed Whole opens with duelling acoustic guitars that immediately draw a line to Pete Townshend.

A full-band version of Sleeping By Myself from Vedder’s Ukulele Songs record, the gentle waltz of Yellow Moon and the heartfelt Future Days close out Lightning Bolt with a trio of passionate tracks likely to become concert favourites.

It’s no wonder Mike McCready mentioned the  Pink Floyd vibe present in this new material. There are no walls, but there is the sound of a band hammering against the barriers of time and experience in the most life-affirming and inspiring ways.

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