19th November | O2 Academy
I must confess to being somewhat nervous before seeing Jimmy Eat World at the O2 Academy. It had been 10 years since I first saw the Arkansas outfit, I was a skinny teenager and me and my friends had managed to put on our deepest voices and somehow got into the age restricted concert. I still remember the sense of ‘coolness’ we had the following day, no matter how unfounded. It sticks in my mind as one of the most memorable gigs of my teenage years.
From the makeup of the crowd, I certainly don’t think I was the only one, it was apparent that the clear majority of the audience would have, like me, been teenagers when Futures and Bleed American were released and I was interested in seeing how they treat their older material compared to the dare I say, more grown-up sound of their latest release Integrity Blues.
The stage was set by Reading outfit The Amazons, who I’m expecting big things from in the near future. Playing with a natural swagger and with an engaging and energetic sound. They are a nuts and bolts rock band of which there feels like there’s a been a dearth of the last few years.
Then Jimmy Eat World entered the stage, looking almost the same (albeit a tad older) as I remembered, I’m sure that Jim Adkins still does to the same hairdresser. In other bands this would be discerning but Jimmy Eat World were never tied into the fashion as other pop-punk groups of the nineties & noughties – and I’m sure that’s why they’ve continued making albums whilst other bands have cut their fringes.
Afterwards the magic happened. Following their opening salvo, the heavy, distorted intro of ‘Bleed American’ blared and the crowd came to life. I don’t think that I was the only one that was immediately turned back into a teenager, the words coming back to me. It was like meeting an old friend and hitting it off like you had last met yesterday.
What is truly remarkable is Jimmy Eat World’s enthusiasm. I feel slightly guilty that I’m not writing about their new material, it’s very good, if somewhat mellower than their early releases, understandable as people change overtime. However, the night belonged to the classics, particularly those of Futures and Bleed American.
Ten years ago, I heard these songs played with a certain anger and force. On Saturday they were played with a wry smile and an acknowledgement of that’s who they were and how they felt at the time. It may not be who they are now but that doesn’t make it any less important. Songs like ‘Praise Chorus’ would sound trite if they played as they were when they originally written, but they were treated like someone telling stories of their youthful antics.
I am probably way too young to be writing about nostalgia as I have done, but art and music can encapsulate a period of your life. It was a pleasure to return there for an evening.
Check out the video for ‘Bleed American’ below.