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Published: 2007/11/18
by Jeremy Welsh

Pearl Jam - Immagine in Cornice: Picture in a Frame

Rhino Records – B000UNYK76

After a montage of Italian roads, bocce, and folk dancing shot in Super 8, the opening scene cuts to band members walking through a maze of hallways on their way to the stage. Over the video, in passable Italian, Eddie Vedder is heard to say: "Tonight is the first time that we've returned to Italy after six years. We've had many wonderful concerts in your country, and we're very happy to be here again." This is how Pearl Jam's most recent DVD release, Immagine in Cornice, begins. Filmed by Danny Clinch over five concerts in northern Italy during September of 2006, the DVD splices grainy Super 8 clips of Italy’s beauty with vibrant concert scenes, immediately pulling the viewer across the Atlantic Ocean. If you have followed Pearl Jam at all over their expansive 17-year career, you know this release would not simply be a "behind the scenes" documentary. Rather, Immagine in Cornice showcases what is so unique about Pearl Jam— how they think about each show, the way they connect with the audience, and the uncommon locations of each concert. "The whole deal is about communication," Vedder says at one point, describing what he does from the stage in front of his fans. He is clearly a romantic, so what better place to film this side of the band than in Italy? Early in the DVD, you see Vedder working with an Italian translator to make sure he has his opening "speech" correct for their fans in Turin. Later, you see Mike McCready signing autographs for every fan outside of their hotel in Bologna, while he tells a story of when he used to be a young fan searching for autographs from The Scorpions by hiding under their limo. You see Jeff Ament hunting down a skate park, climbing over a fence, to fit in some relaxation time. In Pistoia, Vedder and Boom Gaspar (Pearl Jam’s touring keyboardist) visit a small church where Gaspar is filmed playing one of the town’s renowned organs. The band makes an effort to experience the beauty that surrounds them- the architecture, culture, and people. It all feeds their passion and certainly influences their music. The music on the DVD is loosely structured as a complete show with various clips from each city interspersed between the concert footage. (This idea of a "show" is strengthened with clips of the band working out encores before the later songs.) The song selection is weighted towards their most recent album with five songs from the eponymous Pearl Jam, including the first three on the DVD: “Severed Hand,” “World Wide Suicide”, and “Life Wasted.” Each of these energetic numbers is focused on events that are still current. “World Wide Suicide” is the only truncated song on the DVD, as it is comprised of clips from each of the different concerts. Following “Life Wasted” from Turin, the ancient and wet amphitheater in Verona is the setting for “Corduroy.” The sheets of rain and the vibrant colors of the wet ponchos in the crowd are an interesting contrast to the energy of the band on stage. A sped-up version of “State of Love and Trust” from Milan follows, after which Clinch returns to Verona for an extended “Porch.” While the first three newer songs are intense pockets of energy, the band’s older songs have clearly grown and expanded. With some nifty editing, a group of fans singing “Porch” while leaning against a palazzo seamlessly transitions into “Even Flow” from Turin. The encores include the sing-along “Better Man,” the anthemic “Alive,” a funky “Blood,” a kinetic “Comatose,” and the sparsely accompanied “Come Back.” Before the final song, there is a wonderfully edited montage of slow-motion energy from various concerts, featuring band members jumping, gesturing, and essentially letting themselves go while “Alive” is played on an accordion. It serves as a great way to lead into the obligatory cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” a chestnut that Pearl Jam has been covering for fifteen years. A quick mention of Danny Clinch's contribution to the overall success of this DVD should be made. The film is simply full of life- life captured in the rough simplicity of Super 8, as well as in the life-like clarity of the hi-def concert footage. And even though this footage is comprised of a number of different angles, the editing never feels choppy or frenetic. Clinch has found a wonderful balance that captures the reality and essence of Pearl Jam and their music. The movie concludes with Vedder climbing the Bell Tower of the Cathedral in Pistoia's Piazza Duomo. In the background, you hear him singing Tom Waits’ "Picture in a Frame.” It’s a fitting ending for Immagine In Cornice, as Pearl Jam, with the mastery of Danny Clinch, has framed a wonderful picture.

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