In what would be one of two special shows on their UK summer run, Jimmy Eat World take to the stage to play two of their most celebrated albums, “Bleed American” (which may be better recognised by some as their self-titled album due to changing the name after the events of 9/11) and “Clarity”.
These aren’t just any old records, they helped to re-ignite the 1990s emo genre, making them the poster boys in the process thanks to their light poppy hooks and dynamic rhythms that, with “Bleed American”, would gain them worldwide exposure, topping MTV play-lists and making teen pop wince in fear. Tonight is the night they help us to reminisce the better memories of our teenage years, tonight is the night we hear some of the Mesa, Arizona quartet’s strongest songs in what is set to be a monumental show for all in attendance.
The venue of choice is London’s HMV Forum, situated minutes away from the northern line on London’s underground network, making it easy to travel to if you’re visiting from out of town. The main hall is a small, but wide room that will provide an intimate setting for those who are standing. But look above, and you can see that the building still resembles the art deco style that has been there since the mid-1930s, a contrasting yet unique experience provided in the upper stalls. Playing host to a capacity of 2,350, the Forum is a preferable choice of venue for the band, providing an intimate show given the capacity, and in terms of sound quality, the venue doesn’t disappoint, aiding the band’s perceptible sound throughout the night; credit given to the sound engineers who really help to make this night special.
There would be no supports tonight, which would lead to be a risky decision as some wait for nearly two hours before they get to hear any music. Evidently, the lack of energy shows when Jimmy Eat World arrive on stage, starting the double album bonanza with “Clarity”; “Table For Glasses”, “Lucky Denver Mint” and “Your New Aesthetic” showing that while their back catalogue is strong, the former of the two albums is less radio friendly, renowned for it’s slow, minimalistic charm, which leaves some of the audience bewildered, despite the rapturous applause in between songs. But once the more energetic “Believe In What You Want” kicks in, the energy starts to flow, leading the crowd into singing the infectious upper harmonies of the chorus. The celebratory atmosphere truly starts when the first chord kicks in to “Crush”, with mass participation carrying Jim Adkins’ famous “Falling” cry to illuminate the room with excitement and from this stage onwards, “Clarity” goes on to see some energy with “Ten”, “Blister” and the title track in tow; “Blister” being the standout track from the album tonight, echoes of “And how long would it take me, to walk across the United States all alone?” haunting the very foundations of the hall, leaving every person competing to be the loudest in the room, and Jim Adkins taking the back seat on vocals as Tom Linton delivers a powerful performance.
All that remains from “Clarity” is “Goodbye Sky Harbor”, and you’d easily be forgiven for thinking the song would be a complete bore-fest, given that the track on record clocks in at a whopping 16 minutes. But with the core element of the song completed, the band kick the song up a notch to the drum-machine-meets-vocal-loops outro, with Jim putting down his guitar and rocking out like no other for the final minute. “Clarity” is never going to go down as well as successor “Bleed American”; a lot of us didn’t even grow up with the album, compared with the 2001 counterpart. Whilst the album is beautifully crafted, it seemingly falls flat at a few of the major hurdles live, but “Clarity” is not the kind of record that you jump frantically on the spot to, and you would be a fool to even try during songs such as “On A Sunday”, where focus and relaxation will contrastingly maximise their potential. What follows is a few minutes for everyone to regain consciousness, fight their way to the front and prepare to expend energy conserved for “Bleed American”.
On return, the band fire on all cylinders with album opener and title track, where the shift in conformity changes; what was once cool during “Clarity” to stand reserved, with arms folded now contrasts to a current attitude of jumping with a sense of aberration and insanity, making those still on the floor feel like the awkward crowd. “A Praise Chorus” follows up the anthemic sing alongs and biggest hit “The Middle” reaffirms this. “Your House” gets a reworked rendition, which leaves die-hard fans torn as they miss out on the original, acoustic chord driven track in favour of a more riff based version that lacks the punch of the predecessor, but doesn’t disappoint overall.
What trails is the frenetic “Sweetness” and along with their heaviest song from the album, “Get It Faster” and “If You Don’t, Don’t”, the band continue the energetic approach, keeping the momentum of the audience in full assault as they jump with enthusiasm. The surprisingly enjoyable segments of the night were the songs laced with female backing vocals, provided by indie singer/songwriter, Courtney Marie Andrews, who is currently a touring member of the band, and lends vocals to the likes of “Hear You Me” and “Cautioners”, giving tracks that much needed oomph and push for authenticity, making the audience truly experience the album live. The best song of the night though was arguably “The Authority Song”, which had crowd participation, dancing from Jim and vocal harmonies that makes people remember why the song was so great all of those years ago.
With final song “My Sundown” done and dusted, the band leave the stage once again for a few minutes, before returning to a heralded applause, and treating those patient enough not to leave early to four more songs, “23″ from “Futures” getting a thumbs up as the cult favourite finally starts to make their set-list more frequently, “My Best Theory” from latest album “Invented”, “Big Casino” from 2007′s “Chase This Light”, and finally one more song from “Futures”; “Pain” is powering through the last minutes of the show with such force and vocal prowess, that by the end of the song, those in the audience that can’t even strike as much as a smile are probably bearing no soul, as Jimmy Eat World deliver a spectacular show that may never happen again in the UK. As people leave for the trains, it’s clear that there were a couple of gigs going on, but it was obvious who went to see Jimmy Eat World over arena giants Kings Of Leon, as the smiles and energy prevail all the way home.
Strictly Our Opinion: A defining moment for fans of the band in attendance, Jimmy Eat World live up to expectations and then some as they deliver 28 tracks of pure indulgence; from the well-rounded pop numbers all the way to the shy, awkward and emotional rock ballads, there’s no sign of this band slowing down ten years on from the hits that redefined the rules of rock and roll. You can catch them in Milton Keynes supporting the Foo Fighters this Sunday and at the iTunes Festival on Monday 11th July, as well as Leicester on Tuesday 23rd August, and of course Reading and Leeds. The band are at their finest, and you would be a fool to miss out on what is undeniably one of the best live shows this year.