There was a time when I’d go see any band any time. That was before I’d seen countless concerts and before I had to pay a sitter. I’ve found myself being more selective in the last few years, sometimes waffling about going to see bands that I used to go see frequently. Sometimes it’s because I was disappointed by their last Charlotte show. Sometimes a dud interview sort of sours me on a band. Other times I just feel like I’m over it. There was a time I’d drive to Atlanta, Chapel Hill, Winston, or Columbia (this was mostly pre Orange Peel in Asheville) to see the same band I fail to drive across town for now.
But I’ve found that whenever I am on the fence and I do go, I’m glad I did. My girlfriend and I drove to see Face to Face in Asheville and were both beaming by the time it was over. After the Hot Water Music show in January I wondered what the heck happened to my HWM t-shirt and cds. And Tuesday at The Fillmore I was reminded why I loved Jimmy Eat World in the first place. The Arizona four-piece (who had an additional keyboardist/vocalist on stage) played a long, solid set that hit on practically its entire career and they, for the most part, play the songs fans want to hear (I don’t think anything from its first album “Static Prevails” made the cut).
Jimmy Eat World opened with the catchy new single “I Will Steal You Back” from its new album “Damage.” It’s almost as catchy as anything the band's ever written. Even though it opened with a new track, the group hit the ground running following it up with “Big Casino” from 2007’s “Chase This Light” and the dancey “My Best Theory” from 2010’s “Invented.” After another new track (“Appreciation”) it reached back to what’s probably considered its seminal album for old school fans - 1999’s “Clarity” - with “Your New Aesthetic” and “Lucky Denver Mint.”
Its other seminal album, 2001’s “Bleed American” (and I’m glad we’re back to calling it by its real name after its title was temporarily scrapped after 9-11) was represented by the lovely ballad “Hear You Me” before the group pounced into the heavier “Futures.”
There was no pyro, no stage antics, just the swing of Jim Adkins’ signature curled bangs flopping over his face and a kick or jump here and there. It was a straight ahead rock show and the fans ate it up, some singing every line. The band charged through 26 songs. The sound was good, loud, and clear and the crowd - at least from what I saw - was simply into the show, not falling down drunk or talking during the entire set.
It’s difficult to pinpoint highlights because there were so many. Between 2004’s “Futures” and “Work,” the group flubbed the intro to “Kill” (another track from “Futures”) with Adkins shrugging: “It’s not the Grammys. It’s not a competition. It’s just art.” Shortly thereafter he segued into Grammy winner Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Getting Back Together” (as pictured above).
Adkins followed that winking tween-friendly moment with a solo acoustic version of “Clarity’s” “For Me This is Heaven,” which always reminds me of the first dance of a friend’s wedding reception. During the hard hitting “Pain” I turned to my friend (the same one who I watched Jimmy from the stage with during Warped Tour over a decade ago) and said, “There’s no way they’ll play my favorite song.” Three songs later I heard the opening riff of “The Authority Song,” turned back to her in shock and jumped up and down like a kid. From then on it was a “Bleed American” fest with four tracks from that album raising the momentum toward the end of the set. That was the album that contained Jimmy Eat World’s biggest mainstream radio hits “The Middle” (which was saved for the final encore) and “Sweetness.” The latter was sandwiched between “A Praise Chorus” and the title track to that 1999 record. Add three more during the encore and you have whopping 26 songs.
Some shows can go on too long, but Adam Ant playing 29 songs and Jimmy Eat World doing 26 this week is the kind of thing I want to see. I was stoked at first to see Marilyn Manson, but put off when I read his recent set lists were only 13 songs long. I realize his live show is much more about production and theatrical performance, but when your catalog is nine albums deep you should really stay a little longer on stage, no? The first time I saw Steve Earle he played something like 36 songs. That’s what I want. Not the dancing, not the extended solos. I want songs! It made it worth the drive to Durham back in 1998 and Tuesday, Jimmy certainly made it worth the drive across town.