Jimmy Eat World + The Minutes
Limelight 1, Belfast – Saturday 7th September 2013
As a remarkably warm summer draws to a close, there’s a distinct nip in the air this evening outside the familiar stomping ground that is the Katy’s / Limelight complex. That hasn’t stopped a liberal smattering of Jimmy Eat World fans – fans running the gamut from 18 year old goths to IT workers nearing the wrong side of their 30s, such is the longevity and appeal of the band – turning up early doors to catch a quick-fire, effective and highly entertaining set from Dublin natives The Minutes. Being unfamiliar with the band, I was pleased to note a number of impressive reference points – the sass and confidence of Rocket From The Crypt, to a certain new-wave, almost Devo-ish tone to their second number, all mixed together with raspy vocals, T-Rex swagger and QOTSA sludge. It’s a quality set with much to admire, and it’s made all the more enjoyable for the energy the 3-piece put into it.
After a brief interlude, the venue has filled up noticeably, and Jimmy Eat World walk on to a healthy applause, starting out with ‘I Will Steal You Back’. It’s a relaxed beginning, although a somewhat muted sound means the song fails to ignite completely, the chorus not just as sharp as the recorded version would suggest. The bombastic intro of ‘Big Casino’ fares better, the familiarity igniting a faint sing-along from the good-natured crowd. ‘Appreciation’ provides the first inkling of a gulf between the band’s newer material and their back catalogue, as there’s a noticeable increase in chatter, whereas the crowd throw themselves wholeheartedly into ‘Authority Song’ and its indisputably feel-good atmosphere: the first of many reminders this evening of just what a classic album 2001’s Bleed American remains to be.
Next up is a brief detour into the Clarity album, ‘Your New Aesthetic’ ratcheting tensions via twitching rhythms – the first real glimpse of the angular nature that was once a staple of the band, whilst ‘Lucky Denver Mint’ shows they were nailing huge pop choruses well before the album many consider their ‘breakthrough’, and the band play it with admirable conviction and a sense of genuine attachment. In fact, this sense of attachment is something that comes to the fore many times during the set: lyrically, Jim Adkins can often be found looking backwards, be it via Jesus And Mary Chain or Heatmiser lyrical references, or in the elegiac tones of ‘Hear You Me’, and as such, it’s hard not to get a little swept up in that yourself, and it’s here I realise just how many points in my own life are bookended by particular albums. Whilst there’s a valid point to be made that Jimmy Eat World rarely stray from a signature sound, after nearly 20 years, it’s a comforting one, and it’s on this realisation that the band really start to hit their stride, with a storming ‘Futures’ followed by ‘Work’: the band showing a dexterity with chorus vocals – the oohs and ahhs, so to speak – which puts them up there with Bad Religion in that regard.
It’s curious then that at this point, the band switch gears for what could be termed ‘the slow set’ – an acoustic guitar-led seque which, though not unexpected, seems to happen perhaps 2 songs too early. That’s not to say it’s unwelcome: an acoustic reading of ‘For Me This Is Heaven’ puts Adkins’ fragile, breathy croon and tasteful guitar playing to the forefront, whilst the up-beat jangle of ‘Damage’ and ‘Heart Is Hard To Find’ (described by a companion as“..one banjo short of Mumford & Sons”) lead into the elegiac ‘Hear You Me’, as beautiful today as ever. It’s at this point the reviewer in me hangs up the notepad for a while: it’s too pretty to have your thoughts elsewhere.
Despite the set’s odd energy spikes and troughs, as the band strap on the electric guitars again for storming renditions of ‘Always Be’ and ‘Let It Happen’, there’s a palpable feeling that they’ve got the pacing in hand for the rest of the set, and this turns out to be correct: ‘Pain’ sees things at perhaps the darkest, most aggressive point in the set, while the spectacular ‘A Praise Chorus’ raises the energy level from band and audience 100%, counterpointing the previous song’s darkness with swathes of positivity, the line “I want to always feel like part of this was mine”undoubtedly resonating in the ears of the audience – my own included.
The progression continues with the perfect call-and-response whirlwind of ‘Sweetness’, culminating with the band drenched in sweat for the furiously barbed pop-punk of ‘Bleed American’, which sees the audience energy level at it’s highest of the evening. Somewhat disappointingly, this dissipates for the odd encore choice of ‘Chase This Light’, which falls a little flat despite the clap-alongs. ’23’ is slower paced and steeped in the influence of The Cure: a typical set-closer for the band – perhaps more chosen for lyrical content than power, although it provides an effective segue to the obviously jubilant finale of ‘The Middle’, which sees the band loosen up completely, seeming as taken with the Belfast audience as the audience is taken by them. All in all, a hugely enjoyable set occasionally facing pacing issues, but for a set of 25 songs that can easily be forgiven. As a huge fan of the band, I was overjoyed to hear my favourites, and though I can’t help thinking that Jimmy Eat World are now embellishing on a career as opposed to furthering it, there seems to be no shortage of newer fans attaching to their more recent output: for me, they might have peaked some time ago, but, to coin one of the band’s lyrics as closure: stick around, nostalgia won’t let you down.