With a new album comes a new tour, and after releasing their ninth studio album into the world you’d think Arizona’s very own Jimmy Eat World would start getting a little jaded, or at least tired of playing the same songs for the past 23 years. However the band blew away the cobwebs in any and all cynics’ ears as they leaped into action with the first single off their new album Integrity Blues, ‘Get Right’ at Southampton’s O2 Guildhall.
It becomes quickly evident that the majority of the fans here tonight are here for the long-time favourites like ‘Bleed American’ and ‘Always Be’ to name just a few, but Jim Adkins and Co. deliver a passionate set spanning across their whole discography including hits from their most successful albums ‘Bleed American’, ‘Clarity’ and ‘Futures’ (yet nothing from their debut album ‘Static Prevails’, much to my upset). Despite raging through the first three songs in quick succession to screams and sing-alongs that almost drown out Adkins’ voice, they slowed things a notch that felt like it lasted too long.
For the next four songs after ‘I Will Steal You Back’, the crowd politely clapped and sang along, but Jimmy Eat World had lost the momentum that had propelled them forward in the beginning. They reignited the engine of their well-oiled machine on new song ‘Pass The Baby’ that the band lost themselves jamming to, extending the outro that ripped into a frenzy reminiscent of the way Brand New play ‘You Won’t Know’ in their own live shows. While at times the set list was weak, the way the band improvised on some of the songs that sounded both rehearsed and fresh in equal measures was easily one of the key elements that kept the whole night rolling with whiplash energy.
Although they aren’t the most visually stimulating band onstage, Jimmy Eat World frontman Jim Adkins is soaked in charisma and humility (and also, sweat). He guides and encourages the crowd through singalongs on songs like ‘Futures’ and ‘Always Be’, not wasting any moment between hits to thank the crowd for being there not just tonight but throughout their career. It’s evident how aware Adkins is of the impact his band has had on their fans, from the older generations taking their children to what was likely to be their first gig, to couples with their arms around each other throughout the night. Observing the crowd one could see how warm the crowd felt to be respected and loved so earnestly by a band and the music they make, making this a feeling that shined profoundly through the night.
Tonight’s visuals and lighting helped to heighten the electricity in the air as four street lamps bathed the stage in glowing red, blue and green – a nice touch that vaguely hinted at the artwork for Integrity Blues. LED backlights dazzled the crowds with bursts of light that created a rich texture for the senses to gorge on, a notable moment being the last two songs of the set, ‘Work’ and ‘Pain’ were played out in a grandiose effect.
It would have been simply cruel for the band to have ignored the cries of ‘one more song!’, even if they could have ignored the shaking of the entire room as feet stomped on carpeted floor. To end the night on a high, the band came on stage for three more songs and instantly sprang into action with everyone’s favourite ‘The Middle’ – with arguably one of the best choruses of the early 2000s. Taking a breather with ‘Sure and Certain’, the band got ready to whip the crowd into a frenzy with the last song of the night, ‘Sweetness’. Jimmy Eat World were almost guaranteed to have mosh pits and crowd surfers at this point and they certainly were not disappointed.
Despite the middle of their set being just above slightly dull, Jimmy Eat World were eager to please the crowd and have fun doing so by playing some of their most known songs. They tested the waters of the reception to their new record and I believe they’ll be reassured that their fans love it after this tour. They have gone a long way, from playing tiny bars in front of a handful of people to playing to thousands a night, but the energy and charm they’ve always had hasn’t been lost in all 23 years of the band’s existence.