Let’s Play Two: Pearl Jam Live at Wrigley Field

Studio: Abramorama

Oct 03, 2017 Web Exclusive
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If you’re a fan of Pearl Jam and have never seen them perform live - and absolutely if you think you may not - Let’s Play Two is a must view. This next best thing to being there concert film of Pearl Jam playing Wrigley Field in the run up to the first victorious Chicago Cubs world series in 108 years was in the right hands of Director Danny Clinch. The long time music chronicler has a familiarity with the band since his film Immagine in Cornice documented their five concerts in Italy during a 2006 World Tour and this serves the film’s overall tone of intimacy. There are unbreakable bonds formed by time and struggle connecting all of the principal subjects -  Obviously the people of Chicago and The Cubs, but also the band members who apart from drummer Matt Cameron (who joined in ‘98 right after Soundgarden disbanded), have been together through thick and thin from their formation in 1990. Then there’s Chicago native and frontman Eddie Vedder’s special relationships formed in and around Wrigley during his life as a Cubs fan. In between segments of all the rousing Pearl Jam crowd pleasers including “Low Light”, “Better Man”, “Corduroy”, “Release” and “Alive”, the lens walks with Vedder, revealing the excited glow of a young boy stepping into the ballpark for the first time. As he reunites with all of his Wrigley friends, his face expresses the nervous emotion of a long suffering fan on the cusp of finally experiencing championship glory.

The intimate charm for which Wrigley is known transfers to the live concert experience as well. Clinch and concert cinematographer Vance Burberry pull right in on the hands and faces of Vedder, Cameron, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and Mike McCready as an adoring crowd elatedly joins in on each song. After all this time, Pearl Jam still brings it and added magnitude of their performance comes from when it took place, during the energized period of anticipation for the ever elusive crown for the Cubs. This wonderfully loud buzz courses through the film and overwhelms in moments like when one of the most heart pounding songs of all time “Alive”, is being belted into the upper deck, rising as an anthem of human triumph that all Cubs fans could get behind. “Alive” is a song that not even the most hardcore Pearl Jam fans will remember was performed just a block away from Wrigley at The Metro in 1990. Opening for Soul Asylum, It was their second show ever and one they gave after only five days of being formed. Clinch cuts to old, crappy camcorder footage and the band members smiling in reflection at how they made $250 and it is here where the full circle becomes most clear. Here they were again 25 years later, but now playing for a sold out crowd at Wrigley Field, the field of dreams both good and bad, one of the most hallowed places in sports and the entire country.

We know Vedder to be the valiant soul searcher with the kind of sensitivity that feeds the channels to wisdom through suffering. Being a Cubs fan all your life can only strengthen that attribute. Vedder strikes at the core of this notion when he describes how the “hope muscle” is strengthened as a Cubs fan and how the fanbase is built upon comforting one another through hardship. So when he is casting beloved songs to a crowd that sings along in swelling unison, he is also one of them. Thus, the connection all musicians strive to make with their audience is already formed. And that shared identification is all the more profound when channeled through a voice and presence of Vedder’s.

What’s so perfect about the combination of entities here is that if there was ever a band that could strike the cathartic chord of being a Cubs fan directly, it’s Pearl Jam. There are demons allayed by camaraderie and the honored notion of picking one another up to get back out there and play. Pearl Jam could have broken up and drifted apart countless times in their existence, at all of the fault lines when other bands would, yet they stuck together. They are a band that symbolizes the longevity and endurance that the Cubs and their fans can all relate to and this powerful connection envigorates this production. Seeing how it all culminates in victory, propelled by a great concert, is pure cinematic inspiration.


Author rating: 8/10

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