LIVE: Jimmy Eat World / Rival Schools @ O2 Brixton Academy, London [19/11/13]

By Ben Tipple

Jimmy Eat World have been no strangers to the UK during 2013, with tonight’s show in Brixton’s O2 Academy marking their fourth trip proper to the nation’s capital in almost as many months. Despite having only played the Kentish Town Forum some two weeks earlier they return to London as part of their European tour with grunge-rockers Rival Schools in tow.

Most notable for their 2001 crossover ‘Used for Glue’, those only familiar with this track might be somewhat blindsided by Rival Schools’ down-tempo grunge laden melodies flowing over a largely motionless crowd. Having released two albums in more recent years since ‘United by Fate’, the New Yorkers unobtrusively regale the audience with twelve tracks from their back-catalogue – ‘Used for Glue’ making an unannounced appearance at the midpoint.

Their unimposing stage presence and masterful delivery of captivating melody proves to be their charm. Although it takes some time for the audience to engage, and whether the audience can be classed as “warmed up” remains debateable, Rival Schools are on top form tonight. Relying entirely on the delivery of the music over overt showmanship or crowd interaction appears to do the band wonders.

As ever, Jimmy Eat World follow suit. Applauded for their musical ability in a live setting, the Arizona based veterans leave gimmicks at the door. Instead they rely entirely on the quality of their back-catalogue, handpicking a considered combination of fan favourites, rarities and new tracks. With the setlist proving similar to that of the Forum, the appearance of ‘Polaris’ from their seminal ‘Futures’, or ‘Blister’ from 1999’s ‘Clarity’ add some variety and keep smiles firmly cemented on the faces of the audience.

Closing the main set with ‘Sweetness’ and ‘Bleed American’ (or ‘Salt Sweat Sugar’ depending on your feelings towards the track) encourages the biggest sing-along of the evening, while dropping ’23’ in the encore brings a notable silence to anywhere but the stage.

After squeezing over twenty-five songs into the evening, Jimmy Eat World leave the stage as calmly as they had arrived. The simple backdrop left hanging at the back of the stage is representative of tonight’s unassuming ethos. Neither band employ an overbearing lightshow, clichéd crowd gimmicks or on-stage theatrics. While employing a cliché myself, tonight is definitely all about the music, and for that both Jimmy Eat World and Rival Schools are leagues ahead.