BEST ARENA SHOW

Pearl Jam, St. Pete Times Forum, April 15

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The only survivors of early '90s grunge that matter, Pearl Jam have taken hits for sagging album sales over the last few years. So fuckin' what? That's mostly because they have never kowtowed to market demands. The band's powerful show at the Forum showed how a seasoned band with a deep commitment to the music can eschew gimmicks, pyrotechnics and excess bombast, and still connect with an audience in a large venue. True, Pearl Jam doesn't deliver the same kind of cathartic physicality that stunned a Jannus Landing crowd during their local debut in '92, but as Mike McCready explained, those early sets ran less than an hour. And, y'know, the lads are a bit older now. For more than two hours at the Forum, PJ played songs from throughout their catalog, deftly mixing abandon and precision.

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