Pearl Jam are touring South America this month, so a chance to share a few songs from the tour, along with the posters.
Then on to Porto Alegre (via Buenos Aires), where the band played Pink Floyd, ‘Comfortably Numb’ for the first time.* Dave Gilmour said recently that a guitarist’s style of playing is all in the fingers (not his or her choice of guitars, pedals, amps, picks, strings, spandex). So much, so obvious, perhaps; I’ve never heard another guitarist sound quite like Gilmour, especially on the two solos in this song, but Mike McCready comes very close here. With his distinctive vibrato bends, it’s also still unmistakably McCready.
And then Sao Paulo, where on Saturday Pearl Jam aptly dedicated ‘Love Boat Captain’ to the victims of the previous night’s Paris terrorist attacks. Written about the tragic events at Roskilde in 2000, the song’s message is particularly resonant; one change was made to the lyrics, where ‘Lost 9 friends we’ll never know / Two years ago today’ becomes ‘Lost 90 friends we’ll never know / Oh again today’. Alongside Eddie Vedder’s peace symbol t-shirt, Jeff Ament is wearing an ‘Unfuck the World’ t-shirt (where do I get one?), and Matt Cameron has the Eiffel Tower emblazoned on his kick drum.
My ever-thoughtful friend Stuart posted on Facebook the other day to comment on why, unlike many, he had chosen not to include the French flag up as part of his profile image, pointing out that national flags are part of the broader problem, symbols that divide rather than unite. One wonders how an increase in air strikes directed at, but not exclusively affecting, Isis members in Syria – there will be many more civilian casualties to join those from the first four years of civil war in that benighted country – will necessarily help move things towards a peaceful settlement.
All of which is not to say that terrorists should not be opposed and thwarted, nor to suggest that the consequences of their appalling and shameful actions are any less tragic than they are, only to argue that, if the first fifteen years of this century have taught us anything, one would hope it was that a military solution is no solution, only the cause of more bloodshed and more innocent lives lost; and that nations pursuing short-term interests often simply create longer-term problems.
I must confess that I haven’t been entirely comfortable with how the ‘Marseillaise’ has been used this week. A gallant and stirring song, for sure, most famously used as an expression of French resistance to Nazi tyranny in Casablanca.** But also a bloodthirsty song, used by fanatics – ruthless in suppressing any dissent – who brooked no argument with their pure ideology, utterly convinced of their own rectitude as they exported their bloody revolution across the European continent. The ancien régime may have bankrupted itself, but republican fervour rapidly congealed into Napoleonic tyranny and twenty years of conflict. ‘Let impure blood water our furrows.’ Well, quite.
Please forgive the (potentially anglophone and undoubtedly hippy-ish) sentiment, but if the ‘Marseillaise’ is to be used to show solidarity with those who lost their lives in Paris last weekend in such tragic circumstances – and perhaps be used to show solidarity with all who suffer from capricious and senseless violence – this is the version I’d prefer we used:
It can’t be said enough.
There are three dates left as I write, and I’ll update this post at the end of the month to include the posters from these gigs, along with any other noteworthy footage.
* Eddie Vedder has played the song before, with Roger Waters at the Sandy Relief Concert back in 2012. The guitarist on this one may be talented, but he overplays it.
** And to a frankly terrible German drinking song.