Is there an 'Evenflow' to the film?
At one point more than half way through “Pearl Jam Twenty,” Cameron Crowe’s very affectionate look at the Seattle band’s first two decades, founding member Stone Gossard muses, “No one can put a finger on what keeps us coming back together.”
That’s the beautiful, mystical alchemy of a great band, isn’t it? There is something elusive and indefinable that holds the members together that transcends petty arguments, creative differences or band wives, and that keeps them, as my late Billboard editor Timothy White used to say, locked in a dance they can’t get out of. It’s a hit— a fix— that they can not get through any other chemical or combination.
Pearl Jam was born on the back of a tragedy and, in some ways, that loss haunts and drives them to this day. In a very simple explanation, Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament were in Mother Love Bone with glittering star/lead singer Andrew Wood. After his death from a drug overdose in 1990, the pair found themselves in need of a new lead singer and ultimately connected with Eddie Vedder, who moved from San Diego to Seattle to join the band. Six days later (!!!), they, along with guitarist Mike McCready and original drummer Dave Krusen (the first of five drummers) were on stage playing “Alive.” The footage from that first concert shows something coalescing, some magical inchoate idea/structure evolving before our eyes. Superstardom followed. The fact that Pearl Jam existed only because someone died is a hell of an albatross.
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