LIVE: Jimmy Eat World / Saltwater Sun @ Rock City, Nottingham

By Dave Stewart

Jimmy Eat World are a well loved, hugely appreciated and greatly respected band. They provided a soundtrack for a generation and haven’t stopped creating since, all the while becoming renowned for putting on an incredible live performance. It isn’t very often that they grace British shores, so it’s unsurprising that tickets for their two UK performances in January disappeared almost as soon as they were announced. With a reputation that precedes them and an arsenal of hits, this was geared up to be an amazing night before it had even started.

It was clear that the room was buzzing in anticipation for the main event, but this didn’t stop opening act Saltwater Sun from creating a bit of buzz of their own. The female-fronted quintet wooed the crowd straight into their arms, squeezing out the odd sway and appreciative nod as they waltzed through their set. The number of people in the room didn’t seem to phase them in the slightest, as they performed a wonderfully upbeat set with precision and style. The room continued to fill up, and by the time they’d played their closing number it was completely full. Saltwater Sun did a great job of tantalising the palettes of everyone in attendance. The only thing left to do now was to anxiously wait for the main course, and the entire room was very hungry.

The balcony filled up, the main hall all pushed closer together and all eyes gazed forwards, patiently waiting. The lights dimmed and, one by one, out they walked. They were met with appreciative roars from the crowd, and the party began. The first two numbers of the set, ‘Sure and Certain’ and ‘I Will Steal You Back’ certainly got some heads bobbing, but it didn’t cause the eruption everyone was waiting for. Then they jumped into old favourite ‘Big Casino’, and everywhere you turned you’d see people jumping and screaming the words right back at the band. Just like that, in that moment, Jimmy Eat World had the crowd in the palms of their hands.

The set was a fluid yet blistering journey through all the best bits of their back catalogue, from their 1999 record ‘Clarity’ right up to the present day. They leaned a little heavier on the older material, and the crowd were certainly big fans of that decision. ‘Pain’ caused the crowd to burst into song, singing every single word in perfect harmony. The chorus of ‘Always Be’ was a wall of noise, with the audience almost drowning out the band with their volume. Even the softer songs like ‘Polaris’ and ‘Hear You Me’ temped the masses into a singalong, with the latter being a highlight of the evening complete with lighters and torches illuminating the room.

The most electric moments of the night, though, were found at the end of the set. That electricity came in the form of four songs from their breakthrough record ‘Bleed American’, and it surged through the room like a lightning bolt. The first notes of the title track had barely rang out and the main hall was already pulsing, jumping higher and higher with every beat. Front man Jim Adkins led the unintentional choir through every single passage, and everyone followed with near perfect harmony. ‘A Praise Chorus’ and ‘Sweetness’ followed, with the latter prompting the first crowd surfers of the night to ride the waves whilst everyone else basked in the energy that was flooding through the room.

This whole evening, of course, had been building towards them performing their biggest hit ‘The Middle’, and it was the perfect way to end the night. There wasn’t a single person in the room that didn’t know the words, and Adkins even took a backseat a few times to let the voices of the crowd take the foreground. Everyone in the room was smiling, the band and the security included, and the night ended on a huge high note.

The whole evening was musically perfect, almost like watching them record the albums in front of you. Not only was the musicianship incredible, but the atmosphere they conjured up was the type that makes your hair stand on end. Jimmy Eat World came, they saw, and they most definitely conquered. One of the genres greats proving they’re still on top of their game.