Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pearl Jam Concerts and Crime Novels

by Dave White

Last week, I saw Pearl Jam in concert 3 times. Once at the new Prudential Center in Newark and then twice. I've seen them about 8 times before this, but in my opinion these three shows were the best stretch of shows.

When I start talking about Pearl Jam concerts, I usually get asked why I go so much. The easy explanation is Pearl Jam is awesome. The longer answer is all the shows end up lasting 2.5 to 3 hours and they play 30 songs per concert. And yet, each show has an extremely varied setlist. For example, it took me four shows to see them play "Jeremy" and 8 shows before I saw "Black." But it only took me one show before I saw "Footsteps," which has grown into one of my favorite songs. Each show, however, has felt epic, huge, and always a more than just a concert.

It's a Pearl Jam concert (*).

(*How epic? The second or third time I saw them, they played two songs of each album in chronological order. Then they broke out "Hunger Strike" for the first time in fifteen years!)

Which brings me to crime fiction. When I read a certain author, I want the equivalent of a literary Pearl Jam concert. I want to be pulled through an adrenaline rush. I want to have to turn the page. I want big stories. They don't have to be about saving the world, but they do have to be about big emotions. I want to get something I haven't seen before.

At the same time, I want to know what I'm getting into. I want an author to be give me a vibe.

For instance, Dennis Lehane's Patrick & Angie series, MYSTIC RIVER, SHUTTER ISLAND, and THE GIVEN DAY can't be more different for each other. But all those books have the same feel. The same rhythm. The same with Duane Swierczynski. All his books are remarkably different, but if you tore the cover and title page off the books, I'd still know it was him.

It's a tricky feet to pull off, which is why I'm often hesitant to try new authors until I see tons of good reviews. I like something that's familiar to me, and then tries something different. It's difficult to explain.

The same goes for my writing. I always want to try something new each time I write something. WHEN ONE MAN DIES was a combination of a police prodedural and PI novel. In THE EVIL THAT MEN DO, I want to play with a timeline. My latest work is a balls out thriller.

What about you? What do you look for in your writers? In your concerts?

BONUS: Years later, I got to see HUNGER STRIKE and BLACK again:


Ron Earl Phillips said...

I liked to know where I'm going when I read a book. It doesn't have to be linear but if I can't figure out where the writer is going with the story I kind of fall out of it. It's OK to be confused, but it doesn't have to be confusing.

I discovered Dennis Lehane last year, been eying his books longer. That man can write some driving dialog. And like you said, the same but different. SHUTTER ISLAND is my favorite to date.

Ron Earl Phillips said...

BTW, I've never seen Pearl Jam live. :\ The last concert I went to was Matchbox Twenty about 5 years ago. Not in a big concert venue area.

John McFetridge said...

The classic rock station I listen to has added Jeremy to the playlist. Is that a bad thing?

I like books that deliver what they promise, that are honest with themselves. I just read the James Ellroy "American Underworld" trilogy and that delivered.

And I agree with you about Lehane and Swiercynski, they have a definite vibe.

I don't like a book I think is holding back.

Jarrett Rush said...

Man, I'd forgotten how much I like Hunger Strike. Bridwell was good. He's no Chris Cornell, but that wasn't bad.

And, yes, John, adding Jeremy to a classic rock station is a bad thing. If for no other reason than a song that was big after I graduated high school should never be played on a classic rock station.

Anonymous said...

The novels related to crime fictions are no doubt interesting, lately I have developed fascination for Jeffrey Archer books. 70 years old and a razor sharp mind, what a lethal combination you have Sir Jeffrey. Reading your books bought from gives me so much of pleasure that I almost start feeling guilty. {{{cosmic hugs sir}}}

grizaham said...

I get asked the same question, "Why PJ?" I also went to 3 PJ concerts in a week this year.. NO, OH, IN.. One of the best live bands out there along with Phish.