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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece Performance, Audiophile Sound
This is a mostly acoustic performance of an entire benefit show. While Pearl Jam has released their entire 2000 tour in stores, and 2003 tour from a website (5 shows in stores), this one is very different. Rather than adapting hard rocking songs to an acoustic format, they dug deep into their large catalog of slower songs and either played them close to the original, or...
Published on July 28, 2004 by Music Enthusiast

versus
11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars They could have shown more variety
I was very excited at the prospect of an acoustic Pearl Jam set. Pearl Jam has always excelled at acoustic, introspective songs and I was curious to learn how a whole live acoustic album would sound. Unfortunately, the vast majority of songs are slow, acoustic versions of songs that were already slow and acoustic on the albums. They sound very similar, except there is...
Published on July 30, 2004 by Brian77


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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece Performance, Audiophile Sound, July 28, 2004
This review is from: Live at Benaroya Hall (Audio CD)
This is a mostly acoustic performance of an entire benefit show. While Pearl Jam has released their entire 2000 tour in stores, and 2003 tour from a website (5 shows in stores), this one is very different. Rather than adapting hard rocking songs to an acoustic format, they dug deep into their large catalog of slower songs and either played them close to the original, or took an acoustic approach.

The spread of the 24 songs across their albums is as follows... Binaural(5), Yield(1), Riot Act(3), Lost Dogs(4), Originals not on an album(1), Vitalogy(1), No Code(3), Covers(4), Ten(1), Vs.(1).

Sound Quality... The 2000 bootlegs were pretty poor by today's standards, the 2003 bootlegs were much much better. Benaroya is incredible. Partly because it is acoustic, mostly due to the fact that Benaroya Hall is a orchestra hall specifically designed for sound. That, plus better recording and mixing equipment, and adequate time to master. There is a lot of bass, and kickdrum. The room ambience is clearly felt upon playback. Put away the Windex, the reason you can't see through your mirror isn't dirt, it is vibrating. Clear separation of the instruments, and vocals are clear and forward. Really good soundstage. When used, electric guitar is mixed fairly low and not oppressive.

Songs... Of the girl is close to the original with great coloration with the electric guitar. A masterful performance. Low Light is rarely played, and in the past sounded tentative. Best version I've heard. Thumbing my way was perfect and very close to the original. Thin air sounds strong but contains a blunder in a transitional guitar piece. Band jokes after which makes it funny. First ever performance of Fatal. Sounds much better than the Lost Dogs version. Stronger. Rousing rendition of Nothing as it seems. Mike is on fire. Man of the hour only days old, band makes a rousing performance. Marred by microphone feedback. Immortality, and the acoustic solo and jam is a concert highlight which will send chills down your spine. Off he goes features Mike McCready really stepping out adding electric coloration. Way better than the album version. Around the bend played for the 1st time in 5 years. Really nice guitar and piano. I believe in miracles(Ramones) reengineered for acoustic. Very well done. Sleight of hand- one of the best performances. Expose of band's talent and overall sound quality of this recording. All or none features a rousing solo by Mike McCready. Lukin features the band joking about acoustic performances as they play it as original. Parting Ways done acoustically features Eddie Vedder's talents and is better than the original. Down is exactly like the original but acoustic. Sounds like a Tom Petty song. Can't Keep is Ed alone with a ukulele. Very rousing. Dead Man is also Ed solo but electric. Almost identical with the version on Lost Dogs. And then, out of nowhere, comes Dylan's Masters of War (Freewheeling). This is angry and spinechilling. Ed's voice goes full range. This is a highlight as this is gripping. Then comes the best version of Black I've ever heard. Acoustic does this justice. The crowd sings the climax and McCready does one of the most appropriate solos of his career. With the sound quality, you capture that magical moment in your home. Crazy Mary features Kenneth "Boom" Gaspar on organ. That's not booing at the end, the crowd is cheering for Boom. 25 Minutes to go features Ed's vocals and the band's diversity. A true show highlight. Daughter was done in the typical live fashion. Stone used a real acoustic guitar rather than an acoustic effect on electric. Made it sound much better this way. Yellow Ledbetter was done in the usual live fashion except, with the superior sound quality of this venue, it grips you.

If you like this one... here are some other recommendations:

Binaural - 5 songs from Binaural played here and others are very good

Lost Dogs - If you like mellower Pearl Jam, disk 2 is full of it

No Code - Very diverse, mellower

Mansfield 7/11/03 - Disk 1 is an acoustic set like this one, some overlap but many others not in Benaroya.

Man of the hour (Amazon exclusive) - Track 1 is the song, Track 2 is the original demo.

Merkinball - 2 Songs, Long Road is similar to Benaroya's "ambience".
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Live can't be much Livelier, September 10, 2004
This review is from: Live at Benaroya Hall (Audio CD)
I've been an on and off fan of Pearl Jam since their first album. I've had mixed feelings from previous live recordings, and one thing has become obvious... Pearl Jam is a group that feeds off their audience and emotions. That being said, Live at Benaroya is not only the best Pearl Jam performance I've heard, but perhaps the best ever by anyone I've heard.

I love live albums, and I love groups who show the talent to be able to play live. Pearl Jam does it all including mixing in covers, and playing more than just the standard favorites. I love what they've done here. They put in some great Pearl Jam classics such as Daughter, Black, Yellow Ledbetter, some covers such as 25 minutes to go and Crazy Mary, and mixed it in with some less popular but still awesome songs... All of this, and it is done acoustically.

It isn't the easiest thing to go acoustically, and one can often see how talented a group truly is. This album shows not only how talented Pearl Jam is, but when looked at with Nirvana's Unplugged album, how talented these "grunge" artist are/were.

I really enjoy the energy here. You get the energy from the audience with songs like Black, and you get it from the band such as 25 minutes to Go. As a side note, this has to be the first time I've ever heard someone sing the FULL lyrics to 25 minutes to go. This isn't just a cover of Johnny Cash's classic (he never sang the full 25), it is a tribute to Shel Silverstein who wrote it.

Thank you Pearl Jam for giving one of the best live performances I've ever heard...
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, July 27, 2004
By 
Lauren (Duluth, GA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Live at Benaroya Hall (Audio CD)
There's a reason this performance was put out on CD, and that was because even before the announcement of its release, it was a legendary performance, or at least as legendary as a performance that was less than a year ago can be. They did an acoustic set before the full show in Boston last summer, but this is the first fully acoustic show the band has released. Except for the partly-electric 'Yellow Ledbetter,' all of the songs are toned down to the acoustic format -- even 'Lukin,' a song that many wouldn't think could be toned down. It makes for a beautiful and emotional set, and I'm so glad we can have it on CD now. Some of the highlights are 'Thumbing My Way' (one that I personally love); the first ever performance of 'Man of the Hour,' from the Big Fish soundtrack; the one-two punch of 'Off He Goes' and 'Around the Bend,' two of my favorite softer PJ songs; 'Black,' which features a crowd singalong; and of course, the closer 'Yellow Ledbetter,' which is always a highlight.

In short, if you're a Pearl Jam fan, this is a must-own. Some feel overwhelmed with the selection of bootlegs available for sale, and don't know which live performances to buy. Start with this one -- it's absolutely breathtaking. It shows why Pearl Jam are a band with an ever-loyal following and why they still hold people's interest and touch people's hearts. It shows why they are simply the best band recording music today.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Un-freaking-believable!, November 19, 2004
By 
Amazon Customer (Barrington, RI USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Live at Benaroya Hall (Audio CD)
Every Pearl Jam show is special: with two hour sets being the minimum and flat out performances every time out, this is a band that has defined itself through live performances. Nonetheless, there are some shows that stand out; one might call them the platinum shows of a band that has made gold the standard. Benaroya Hall is undeniably one of those shows; a semi-acoustic set (one can't expect Mike to put away the electric for the whole night, can one?), it is like no other Pearl Jam show. An incredible collection of twenty-six songs, it is a far more sedate performance than one normally gets (with a few notable exceptions), but no less impassioned for it.

The show starts off with a great version of "Of the Girl"; incredibly tight, the guys easily could have turned this into a two hour jam and I don't think anyone would have minded much. Next is "Low Light"; this is such an incredible song that wasn't performed live for long, every performance is unique, but this is probably the best I've heard (and that includes the one I saw live). Ed's voice is simply magisterial and the backing is haunting. "Thumbing My Way" and "Thin Air" are naturals for an acoustic set, and both are beautifully performed, with one slight flub in the latter making the performance all the more intimate.

These standards are followed up by "Fatal" from the "Lost Dogs" compilation. If this performance is any indication, this is going to be an amazing live song, and will hopefully become a regular in the setlist rotation for future tours. Mike goes electric on "Nothing As it Seems", and the result is a great rendition. That's followed up by the first ever performance of "Man of the Hour" and it's superb, even better than the studio version, with Ed's voice again in amazing form.

"Immortality" is one of my personal favorites and this performance is probably the best I've heard, including an incredible solo from Stone (I think, it could be Mike) in the middle. "Off He Goes" is another acoustic standard (with a little electric thrown in), and is beautifully performed. "Around the Bend" is another song that is rarely played live, but the band is nonetheless incredibly tight on this lovely little lullaby. Unique to this version is a lilting little tune played on the piano; I would assume it was played by Boom, but the crowd reaction and the relatively clumsy fingering makes me think it was actually Ed. "I Believe in Miracles" has never been one of my favorite covers (The Ramones) but I have to say the acoustic version was pretty unique and well worth a listen.

I've really never been a fan of "Sleight of Hand" as it's pretty self indulgent and overwrought. Nothing about this performance changes that opinion, but to be fair, it is technically proficient and well performed; fans of the song will definitely appreciate this version. That's followed up by "All or None" which is one of the more overlooked songs from "Riot Act" and which is ideal for a small venue. The performance doesn't disappoint, with superb vocals from Ed, timely keyboards from Boom and an amazing electric solo from Mike. It's reminiscent of the version from Mansfield III, but even better in my opinion. The disc ends with a bit of a shocker, "Lukin", which in spite of a tongue in cheek intro from Stone indicating they would slow it down was torn through at the usual hypersonic speed. Nonetheless, the acoustic guitar backing did make for an interesting change of pace.

The second disc kicks off with "Parting Ways", which doesn't seem like a logical choice for an acoustic set. However, stripped down to its bare bones this song is even more powerful than usual and is one of the highlights of the show, and offers another amazing vocal performance from Ed. "Down" is actually even more fun acoustic, another reviewer likened it to a Tom Petty song and that's a spot on description.

After the encore break there are two solo offerings from Ed: "Can't Keep" and "Dead Man". "Can't Keep" is one of my favorites from "Riot Act" and this acoustic/solo version is incredible; in addition to solid singing it features some pretty nifty fingering on the guitar. There's no arguing that "Dead Man" is an incredible song, but this version is much better than the studio release because Ed is singing at a level that can actually be heard by humans and, again, his guitar playing is excellent.

Next the full band returns for an absolutely scorching version of Bon Dylan's "Masters of War". Spot on and incredibly intense, this is another highlight of the show. "Black" is likewise intense and Ed's voice really soars; he also has the crowd sing the last verse and they do an amazing job of belting it out - very reminiscent of State College. This is followed up by two covers The first, "Crazy Mary", is familiar to even the most passing Pearl Jam fan, and one which they have really made their own, although Boom's amazing solos at the end have definitely added some punch to it. The second is a Johnny Cash song, "25 Minutes to Go". I've never heard the original, so I can't comment on how it differs from Cash's version, but I can say Ed does a pretty good Cash, and the song is a pretty amazing up-tempo tune that captures all of Cash's subtle humor.

The show ends with an extended version of "Daughter" that includes snippets from "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" by the Beatles and "It's OK" by Dead Moon. Things wrap up in fairly typical fashion with the always outstanding "Yellow Ledbetter".

Put simply, this is a must have for the serious fan, but also introduces a whole news aspect of Pearl Jam to the more casual fan. A simply amazing show!

Jake Mohlman
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pearl Jam escalating up the All-Time list, July 28, 2004
This review is from: Live at Benaroya Hall (Audio CD)
After witnessing perhaps the most extensive re-birth of any rock band in history, maybe it would not be a bad idea for Pearl Jam to change their name. Bassist Jeff Ament even joked about the idea during "Single Video Theory." To surmise that this band has undergone a metamorphosis of unprecedented magnitude would be an understatement. One need only look at archive concert footage of any show during their 1991 tour and compare it to this performance at Seattle's Benaroya Hall to understand how maturation has lead to perfection. While their hard-rocking, head-banging days have long since come and gone (actually, that era of Pearl Jam only lasted for about 3 years), we are left with a better, more fine-tuned product. Ed Vedder is perhaps the finest lyricist in the genre. The catalogue of songs displayed in this acoustic set may only be recognized by true Pearl Jam fans; but it is those who are only familiar with the standard "Even Flow," "Jeremy," "Daughter," or "Better Man," that should experience this performance. None of the songs just mentioned are included in this performance. In fact, Pearl Jam's most personal and least liked studio album, Binaural, leads the pack with 5 tracks. When I say least-liked, I refer to both fans and reviewers who sadly still hold Pearl Jam in the "grunge" pigeon hole. True fans of the band will argue that Pearl Jam really never was a grunge band. While that may be a tall order, try to think back those of you who are old enough to remember. Pearl Jam never fit in with the rest of the Seattle sound. They had quarrels with Nirvana (whether that was staged or not is still debatable) and never blended in with the likes of Soundgarden or Alice in Chains. In fact, Pearl Jam was the first hard rock band in either the Rock or Metal genre to do a complete about-face. 1994'S "No Code" startled almost all fans of the group. Some cherished the truly seminol accomplishment, while others dove back into the mosh pit and brushed the band off as sellouts only to mostly accept change when Metallica finally cut their hair. But never forget who showed even the legendary Metallica that it could be done. Pearl Jam's subsequent albums have all contained beautiful and unique compositions. Unlike bands such as AC/DC who have admittedly made the same album 30 times, every Pearl Jam studio offering is different. In fact, only two Pearl Jam albums can be honestly compared to one another; and those were their two very first albums "Ten" and "VS." While it is true that there are those 35 year old burnouts out there who accuse Pearl Jam of of being sellout "has-beens," they are clearly the minority here. We have seen bands such as Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Smashing Pumpkins fade to glory over the years. Pearl Jam has resisted. Even grunge era main-stays Stone Temple Pilots and Jane's Addiction have called it quits in the last year. Pearl Jam presses on. They move forward not just in ceremony. They do not continue to make music so that they may play "Even Flow" over and over again. They progress because they are the best at what they do. It is no joke when fans of the band compare them to The Who or Led Zeppelin. It is important to note that most members of Pearl Jam are pushing 40 if they have not already crossed that threshhold. The Who and Led Zeppelin had already disbanded when they were where Pearl Jam is now. If you are a fan of the band, or just getting into them, buy Live at Benaroya Hall. It is, perhaps, their finest live performance. Jeff Ament said recently that he envisions Pearl Jam touring in the near future not in arena's, but in theaters such as Benaroya. We could only be so lucky. This is truly one of the greatest bands of all-time. There is no sign of them stopping anytime soon. Rumor has it that they will be back in the studio toward the end of the year.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Benaroya, July 31, 2004
This review is from: Live at Benaroya Hall (Audio CD)
I've had this CD for a while and it's very good. Having been a fan now for 12 years, I pretty much buy whatever PJ puts out. But what made this purchase a must-have is "Low Light". Also, the crowd singing along to "Black" just gives me the chills. This is my favorite PJ song and I have never heard it live. You can tell the band was just "on" that night and this is one of the best shows I've ever heard from them. That being said, I do wish they would've not just played the songs that are already acoustic and ballad-y. It would've been nice to hear a reworking of some of the more rocking songs. This is a really great CD (and I would love to see a DVD of it) and I would highly recommend it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Acoutic Live at Benaroya hall "Feel the Echo", July 28, 2004
This review is from: Live at Benaroya Hall (Audio CD)
A great Performance by a great band. Ofcourse this album does not come to a surprise to me, because i have heard all these songs before except * 25 minutes to go. But this is a great acoustic performance i believe their best. Alot of Defining moments. During Aound the Bend he changes some lyrics which fit the song even more and the song Can't Keep shows that Eddie can do it all by himself :). Masters of War is a very emotional song in this set, u almost feel like Eddie wants to be the next President. Sleight of Hand is sung with honor and emotion, a great version of this song. An Immortality sounds great (acoutic) - With no drums during the chorus which really brings out these great lyrics from the album Vitalogy. And Finally the song * 25 Minutes To Go* Well lets just say__u can't lisen to this song just once__Very well done ^ Pj thanks again!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of Their Best, August 23, 2005
This review is from: Live at Benaroya Hall (Audio CD)
I gotta admit, this is the one I keep coming back to out of all the bootlegs I own. It just has a great mood, and except for one small screw up (early in Thin Air), it's completely solid. Vedder's voice is in great condition, and the rest of the band is also in fine form. I recommend this one if you want to hear Pearl Jam play most of their softer songs in a live setting. No, it is not an acoustic performance in the traditional sense (as the electric guitar is played appropriately), but it is a very nice addition to the catalog nonetheless.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get ready for the ULTIMATE PJ experience!!!, May 28, 2005
This review is from: Live at Benaroya Hall (Audio CD)
Wow. That's the first word I can think of when it comes to "Live at Benaroya Hall". Back in the hey-day of Nirvana, I got their "Unplugged" album and always thought it would be cool if PJ did the same and put out an accoustic set. And then this impressive collection finally came out in '03 and I was astounded by how incredible PJ sounds unplugged! Granted, you can tell on a few tracks that it wasn't COMPLETELY 100% unplugged, but with a package this huge, who cares?? Like "Live On Two Legs", this too sits apart from all the live boot-legs released, but for a different reason. Unlike any of their live releases, this one is STRICTLY mellow hits and is extremely listenable to even the worst critic, with the exception of track 14 on disc 1: "Lukin". "Lukin" is one of PJ's most loudest, obnoxious and shortest screaming sessions, but even that sounded good at Benaroya Hall! PJ also does a few covers on this set, with "I Believe In Miracles", "Masters Of War", and "25 Minutes To Go". In my opinion, "25" is the ONLY weak link on the entire set. It also contains an instant classic, "Man Of The Hour" from the "Big Fish" soundtrack. This touching song was also included in PJ's "Rearview Mirror" Greatest Hits collection. And ofcourse, one of PJ's MOST POWERFUL songs and one of my personal favorites, "Black", is included on Disc 2. It's a treat to hear the audience take over the lyrics from the "I know you'll be a star" segment of the song. It's incredible to know the song has touched so many people on a personal level. And like most of their concerts, PJ closed this fantastic night with a classic from the "Ten" era, "Yellow Ledbetter", which over the years has proven to be a crowd favorite. This 2 Disc collection of mostly "unplugged" numbers is an unbelievable piece of work that will remind you why you fell in love with Pearl Jam in the first place, and is worth every penny. You won't be sorry- you'll be happy and amazed.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pearl Jam fan sees a flaw, July 28, 2004
This review is from: Live at Benaroya Hall (Audio CD)
Predictably, I am also a very large Pearl Jam fan, which is why I'm writing this review. I, too, have very good things to say about this live recording. The band's performance is stellar: animated, strong, meticulous, and flowing all at the same time. The setlist short, but very refreshing in parts: an acoustic version of I Believe in Miracles by the Ramones, the rare 'Around the Bend,' and 'Fatal' immediately come to mind. The sound quality is also truly fantastic. You really feel the mood of the band, performance and venue are all there, right beside you, when you listen to the CD.

However, this might be main the drawback: everything is almost too close. This was an acoustic show, but the crowd was obviously more interested in rocking out. Beautifully captured sing-alongs aside (I really did enjoy these in Daughter and Black), the crowd is just plain-old annoying. Between every song, whether its the fast-paced Lukin or the delicate Man of the Hour, we are subjected to painfully audible screams of 'Eddie, I love you!' or 'McCready, you rock!' I can almost feel the beer being spilt on me by the 4 drunk guys in the row behind me. It's as if everyone is working overtime to be recorded by the bootleg mics and immortalized on a Pearl Jam bootleg. Either that, or there's something about mid-sized audiences: too small to be a sea of thunderous applause, too big to for that subtle and respectful 'camp-fire' feeling. The two 2000 bootlegs from Kadowice, Poland suffer the same fate (there's some girl with the most annoyingly pitched scream I have ever heard). I'm sure the crowd won't bother everyone, but if you'd also prefer not to hear home much Girl X 'Loooooves' Eddie, or how much Guy Y wants to hear 'You Are,' then I'd buy the 2003 Mansfield CD bootleg, which has a similarly strong acoustic performance but a much more tolerable crowd.
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Live at Benaroya Hall
Live at Benaroya Hall by Pearl Jam (Audio CD - 2004)
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