First of 4 gigs in 5 days (mad!), this was a rescheduled one from March, when we'd gotten all the way there before finding out they'd postponed due to illness. D'oh! This time however the trip was not in vain - we parked up at 10 to 8 and got into the already full venue for this sell-out show, grabbing a good viewing spot on the viewing platform stage left.
Support Fortune Drive were on at 8 - a local 5-piece playing a brand of urgent, insistent and itchy rock, with a tiny black vocalist occasionally sounding Motown soul-ish in his vocal inflections. Difficult to pigeonhole, their mainly fast-paced upbeat pop-rock impressed occasionally, despite some flights of indulgence and a seemingly superfluous keyboardist. Nevertheless, one to watch?
Jimmy Eat World came onstage at 10 past 9 - or rather, tousled vocalist Jim Adkins popped on solo to a minimal backing track, regaling us with a couple of lines from their "Futures" CD title track, before a slow-burn opener which gradually involved the rest of the band, layering sound on carefully.
Then straight into the rock - an utterly incendiary "Bleed American", and thereafter a raw, rampant set of powerful, emotive top-drawer guitar rock, played with those good old fashioned virtues like passion and conviction. Easily surpassing any past JEW set, tonight they were "on it", their recent "Futures" CD giving them the extra drive and focus their sets have occasionally lacked (for me, at least). "Work" followed an early "Lucky Denver Mint" and a sing-along "The Middle", after which Jim, one of the nicest guys in rock, apologised profusely for the original cancellation (which most wouldn't bother doing, let's face it), but then remarked, "hey, we're having a party tonight, right?"
Sure we were! The full-length "Futures" featured an extraordinary vocal performance from Adkins, his face contorted with passion. He means it, maaan! However, this was even eclipsed by set closer "A Praise Chorus", hooky, strident and just bloody brilliant. Encores including a breathless "Pain" and "Sweetness", their most Buffalo Tom-like number, concluded a great set which actually recalled the Tom in terms of emotional projection. Leaving the venue, I was hard pushed to remember a better set so far this year. Tonight, Jimmy Eat World really stepped up a gear!