HMV Forum, London
22nd June 2011
I’ve been trying to write a review of the Jimmy Eat World gig I went to last week but struggling. I’ve written several attempts, but they just come off too gushing. So, rather than try and write a straight up review, here’s my thoughts on the two albums they played in full at the gig (which was to celebrate the ten year anniversary of Bleed American being released) and the gig itself.
I found Jimmy Eat World through Bleed American back in 2001 and along with its follow up Futures, are two of their best albums. For some quirk, I’ve found that back catalogues never really connect as much as the gateway and subsequent albums from most bands. So whilst I enjoy Clarity as an album, I just don’t have the affection for it that I do for Bleed American and albums since.
That said, I do enjoy Clarity, but I just don’t identify with it as much as I do Bleed American. It’s got some great songs. But Lucky Denver Mint’s “You’re not bigger than this, not better why can’t you learn?” just doesn’t have the optimism that I come to expect from Jimmy, despite being a great song. Goodbye Sky Harbour, 12.23.1995 and A Sunday all just seem to be lyrically filled with subjects not sure of themselves, but are beautifully written. So it seemed fitting that the gig had no support band, as Clarity to felt like it took that place in the show. The crowd knew the words, enjoyed the songs, but it felt very much like the audience got to Clarity after buying the Bleed American, so the passion and love for the songs in the first half of the show weren’t as intense at the second half. Or maybe its just because the album itself is more relaxed, but either way performance wise, they were top notch.
It’s probably worth mentioning that I genuinely think Bleed American is a tremendous album. There is a great mix of upbeat, powerful anthems that most bands could only ever wish to write. The Middle, Sweetness and A Praise Chorus are great fast-paced songs. “I’m on my feet I’m on the floor I’m good to go, now all I need is just to hear a song I know” might be the lyrics of A Praise Chorus, but it sums up most of that album; they’re songs that once they’re on my ipod will make me run harder at the gym. And the ones it doesn’t are the kind of slower songs which shock you into stillness with their beauty. “A song for a heart so big God wouldn’t let it live” gets me every time I hear Hear You Me, it’s truly a captivating song. In fact the whole album has some great lyrics, like the rousing speeches of an optimist, with lyrics which beg to be quoted in times when you’re just not that sure of yourself. It’s a perfect album for people finding their way in life – from teenage years to mid-twenties.
And at the show last week could you feel the intensity people hold for that album. As the band came on for the second set of the night the backing screen went down, lighting was revealed and the change in atmosphere was palpable. The crowd moved more for the more upbeat songs, but there was none of the obnoxiousness usually found at gigs. Even though they were playing their hit songs, this was a show for people who adore the band and you got the feeling it was mutual, this really was a celebratory show.
Rounding off the night with a four song encore, one of which was the superb song 23, the gig was as near to perfect as it could get. I only hope that in three years we get to see a full run through of Futures. And if it was a Bleed American and Futures show, that would, for me, be heaven.