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Pearl Jam at Voodoo 2013 

click to enlarge 9PM ·FRIDAY·RITUAL STAGE

9PM ·FRIDAY·RITUAL STAGE

Pearl Jam's 2013 album Lightning Bolt, the band's 10th studio release, is the group's first since 2009's Backspacer (released the year before Pearl Jam's last appearance in New Orleans at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival — just shy of the band's 20th anniversary). It leaves one wondering what kind of vitamins the now 23-year-old Seattle outfit is taking. The two latest releases show a band maturing into a simultaneously growlier and leaner sound. With its seemingly endless tour schedule (the current one doesn't wind down until February 2014), the band's live show still pulls largely from heavy favorites from Ten and Vs. On Lightning Bolt, Pearl Jam hasn't dialed down that volume. Openers "Getaway" and "Mind Your Manners" charge through the gate with fast-paced punk rock fury, but they're a red herring for the album's stripped-down and largely quiet second half. The single "Sirens" reveals a fragile, lovelorn ballad — it's both a reminder of the band's acclaimed acoustic-driven triumphs from its earlier efforts and a hint at Pearl Jam's potential as alt-rock's elder statesmen when, or if, the group decides to slow down.

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