Written by Fumo Verde
In 2006 Pearl Jam played five cities in Italy, and Danny Clinch caught it on film. This isn’t just a live concert that was filmed but rather a recorded journal of the band’s tour. More than a backstage pass, you are in the audience, backstage, above stage, on stage, out in line, in the pouring rain waiting to get in. Clinch puts the whole picture in the frame of his cameras and has created something magical. Plus the music is awesome; it’s Pearl Jam.
Over a dozen tracks come to life as Clinch goes from super-8 to HD, bringing much more intensity to an already politically charged band. The music is great as always. “Life Wasted,” “Porch,” and “Better Man” are just a few gems that PJ pulls out. What really blew me away was the band’s capacity to feed off of the energy the crowd exuded and then to give right back to them with twice the amount of force. Whether it’s a guitar solo by McCready, a drum jam by Cameron, or Vedder soulfully waning poetically, one can see the exchange that takes place. On the bonus track “Yellow Ledbetter” the melody alone brings out the tears. The pure emotion of the crowd could be felt as they tried to sing along with Vedder, who re-worded the song and started singing about ending the war in Iraq. When the crowd understood, the cheers poured out. Just seeing this gave me the goose bumps.
The music isn’t the only thing that Clinch got. Like I said, this is better than a backstage pass. Clinch was with the band at all times and this gave him the opportunity to let the fans see what the band is like when they are not being a band. In between each track, we find out a little more what the guys are like when they aren’t under the spotlight. One of my favorite little segments is when McCready is greeted at the hotel entrance by fans. He signs everybody’s autograph book or what have you, takes pictures with fans who want one, all the while he explains he used to be one of these fans. He talks about hiding under the bus of Def Leppard and spooking the drummer. This is a great look into the life of someone who is just a regular guy in a very famous and well-loved band, yet he too has heroes. I also loved Vedder taking us to his favorite place to go after a sound check. “The only difference between a four-track and an eight-track is four more knobs.”
It’s the music, it’s the moments between the music, and it’s the energy that’s traded between the two that makes Immagine in Cornice one of my top picks for the year. Even the packing of this disc is great. It comes with a photo album attached to the box.
Like Cameron Crowe following Led Zeppelin, Clinch has made something more than just a live concert video. He created a portrait of a band by letting the music, the musicians, and the fans paint the picture. He was the master who put it in the frame. And what a fine job he did. Thank you, Pearl Jam, and thank you, Danny Clinch, a fantastic piece of art by such talented artists.