There’s an Onion story about director Cameron Crowe retiring from filmmaking, “to focus exclusively on soundtracks”. With Pearl Jam: 20 the former child-prodigy writer for Rolling Stone, who shared his story in Almost Famous, is halfway there. Crowe’s new feature—a two-hour documentary celebration of two decades of Pearl Jam jamming—plays locally one night only on Tuesday (September 20) at the Scotiabank Theatre in Vancouver, and other Cineplex and Galaxy theatres in the Lower Mainland.
The movie covers major turning points in the band’s career, including a set in January 1991 by Mookie Blaylock (the band’s pre–Pearl Jam name) at Vancouver’s Town Pump. When the show got out of control during a performance of “Breath”, so did frontman Eddie Vedder, and the film cites that as the night he found his voice.
Speaking at a press conference after the world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Crowe said that Pearl Jam’s history “takes the usual rock story and turns it on its head. The usual rock story is incredible promise, brilliance maybe, tragedy cuts it short, and aren’t we sad that we’ve lost this wonderful opportunity. Pearl Jam is exactly the opposite. It’s a tragedy that was surmounted and these guys found joy through survival.”
The release of Pearl Jam: 20 is accompanied by an encyclopedic 384-page hardcover book and, of course, an epic soundtrack.