Twenty-three years ago, Jimmy Eat World formed. Tonight, on the first date of their UK tour, they bring us a setlist compiling twenty-three songs, including ‘23’.
Southampton’s O2 Guildhall is surprisingly sparse, but frontman Jim Adkins overlooks this: “This is f***ing amazing. God there’s so many of you!” The venue fills with die-hard fans – mainly twenty-plus-somethings and couples whose ‘song’ is undoubtedly ‘Hear You Me’ – it soon becomes clear how much of an impact the band have had on people.
The set-up is minimal but effective, as four lampposts illuminate the stage. For what it’s lacking in visuals however, Adkins makes up for in his strong stage presence and youthful voice. JEW launch into crowd-pleaser ‘Bleed American’ in full force. Hits such as ‘Big Casino’ and ‘If You Don’t, Don’t’ make an energetic beginning to the show. Their latest album Integrity Blues offers a familiar yet more experimental sound, presented through angelic track ‘You With Me’ and uplifting ‘You Are Free’. After flooding the Guildhall with its eerie Placebo-like vibes, ‘Pass The Baby’ becomes a verified crowd pleaser with progressive rock breakdowns, edging on a Royal Blood influence.
The middle of their set is a little mundane with mellower material such as ‘Polaris’ and ‘It Matters’. However the pace soon picks up with ‘A Praise Chorus’ and ‘Pain, taken from Futures. This dynamic intensifies when ‘The Middle’ finally plays; the crowd are at the most active they’ve been all night, as bodies surf to the front of the stage during final hit ‘Sweetness’.
Twenty-three years in the making, Jimmy Eat World remain so humble and appreciative of their fans. They have really honed their sound and aged with grace, translating material both new and nostalgic in a live setting magnificently.
Words by Rosalyn Boder
Photos by Isha Shah