The second gig of a hectic weekend saw Rachel and I heading down the M4 to Bristol, after Rachel's mum turned up to babysit, for the return of live favourites Jimmy Eat World, touring their current album "Invented", another prime slab of emotive, heartfelt and occasionally euphoric rock to add to an increasingly quality canon of work. Hit the venue just before 8 after a clear run, and got the drinks in and found a good viewing spot before openers Minus The Bear. A beardy 5-piece from Seattle, they ploughed a furrow of polite, innocuous but inoffensive soft rock, with one surprising rocker which had tinges of The Foo Fighters' "Everlong", to throw the rest of their ho-hum material into sharp relief. "I thought they were about to play "Abracadabra"," said Rach midway through their first number, and she was spot on.
Luckily, for dynamism, power and sheer emotional overload, we had Jimmy Eat World to come crashing in, with their full-on, hard-rocking yet no less tuneful guitar onslaught. Wandering on at the appointed hour of 9 to little fanfare yet to a rapturous welcome from this young crowd, their were straight "on it" with the powerful, dramatic opening salvo of "Bleed American", the forceful, driving middle-eight a real feature and nice guy vocalist Jim Adkins already pouring heart and soul into his performance. My two pre-gig "wants" were dispensed with 2nd and 4th number in; firstly oldie "A Praise Chorus", bringing the first sing-along of the night for the hook, "crimson and clover, over and over", then newie "Coffee And Cigarettes", the most accessible number from their new CD, and almost Gigolo Aunts-like in its' driving melody and crashing tide of harmony. The enthusiastic crowd really went nuts, surprisingly so, for the jagged "Futures", forming a furious moshpit, however for me, the set really took flight for "Big Casino", the soaring hook delivered powerfully and brilliantly. The vicious "Pain" kept this increased momentum going, as Jim, now really getting a sweat on, delivered a passionate vocal display of the kind of bleeding raw emotion usually reserved for a Perrino or a Janovitz. "Work" was another highlight, before Jim, as if looking to turn a release valve on the intensity, complimented a punter's "Space Invaders" shirt with the comment, "my 8 year old would think that's totally rad!" before slowing the mood with a couple of more acoustic numbers, before picking up the heat again to finish the set with a couple of oldies, the sing-along "Blister" and the lengthy slow-burn to crescendo "Goodbye Sky Harbor".
The encores culminated in another sing-along for the poppy "The Middle", which merged into final number, the "Velvet Roof" like slashing guitar dynamics of "Sweetness", the hookline "whoa-oh"s resonating around the packed venue. Brilliant, inclusive stuff to cap a stunning 1 1/2 hours of prime rock, delivered by a band in top form. They're supporting Foo Fighters at MK Bowl next year, and on this form, might just upstage them...!