Without the plodding ruminations and self-serious space fillers that have weighed down Pearl Jam albums ever since they got all serious, last year’s Backspacer turned out to be their most vibrant set of songs since 1994’s Vitalogy. Producer Brendan O’Brien — who worked on four Pearl Jam albums during the decade they mattered — returns, spraying a classic-rock finish on top of a sturdy batch of tunes. Best of all, Eddie Vedder is back to shredding his vocal cords, reserving his solemn low growl for a couple of Backspacer’s heaviest cuts. The rest of the band plays along, supplying thundering drums, chunky guitar riffs, and songs with fist-raising power chords. For the first time since grunge went the way of trip-hop and electronica, Pearl Jam sound like they mean it. Their show at the Q tonight will be a mix of Backspacer tracks plus plenty of old favorites. Be sure to get there early. There’s no telling how openers Band of Horses’ twangy indie-rock will play for Pearl Jam’s adrenaline-spiked audience (be warned, Band of Horses covered Chicago on their last tour), but they’re worth catching all the same. Cease to Begin (from 2007) is one of the decade’s best albums; their third album, Infinite Arms, comes out next week. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena. Tickets: $69. —Michael Gallucci
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