I never thought I’d see this lot in a place like this…! Arizona’s finest, enduring Indie-Emo giants and “live” favourites of ours, Jimmy Eat World, announced a 10th (!) album, “Surviving” along with a couple of very unusual “live” dates, one of which was at this venue, Kingston’s PRYZM. Ever heard of it? Yeah, me neither… Pre-ticket sale investigation indicated this would likely be a low-key CD release show in a small venue, so I jumped on tix for myself, Rach and Logan when they went on sale, finding them very competitively priced at £18 – even for what seemed like an early hour’s set from Jimmy – and also including a copy of the new CD! No surprise then that they sold out in double-quick time, but not before we were sorted, with 3 tickets then, later, 3 CDs dropping through the Rose letterbox!
This one also meant a chance to catch up with our friend and Kingston resident Lisa, so plans were made and we set off at 3 after leaving Kasey for a sleepover at Laura’s. Parked up after a couple of confusing laps around the inner ring road and bumped into Lisa on our way to the wrong Pizza Express – good job, that! Had a lovely catch-up over tea, then we wandered around to the venue, bidding our farewells to Lisa before popping in. Had to join a large queue snaking around the downstairs lounge before heading up to the venue, a 500-capacity 3-tiered disco nightclub which resembled a smaller SWX, or a slightly bigger Level 3! There was already a rammed crowd around the tiny stage, so “down the front” was out of the question tonight; instead Logan’s idea was to take this one in from the top balcony, and we got excellent viewing spots right next to the mixing desk. Good shout!
The time ticked on and the floor (from our view) got even more uncomfortably rammed, and I was rather hoping the boys would throw us a bone by starting early. No such luck, though, as Jim Adkins waited until just after 8 to lead his uniform-black clad bandmates onstage where, particularly with the addition of a 5th “live” member on keyboard duties, they immediately looked very cramped! No matter, straight into the tumbling drums and slashing riffery of “Surviving”, the title track from said new album, which on first couple of listens seems more dynamic and less slow-burn than recent releases; a very welcome thing! More welcome was the opening riff to “Bleed American”, next up, the boys belying the slightly murky sound and a similarly muted response from the cramped faithful with an utterly incendiary rendition.
“We’ve just put a new record out! Some of you may know this…” deadpanned Jim ironically before the Hold Steady-esque herky-jerky opening riff to new single “All The Way (Stay)” kicked in, the mood-heavy slower burn of “555” following in short order. But then the highlight of the night for me, as Jim declared, “we’ve been a band for 25 years! Crazy! Here’s an oldie – Tom’s going to tell you about it…” then guitarist Tom Linton introduced a tremendously pulsating and seething run-though of “Blister”, Linton himself taking vocal chores and leading the finally-engaged crowd in a mass singalong. How long would it take to walk across the United States, indeed…?
For all that this was a swift hour set and also ostensibly a “Surviving” CD release show, we still got 6 cuts from that classic 2001 “Bleed American” album, so “Hear You Me” was a poignant and plaintive delight, Jim asking the crowd to, “be part of the show, hold your phones up!” the venue then being bathed in light. The brilliant “A Praise Chorus” followed, Jim demanding the crowd rock out to this undulating thrill-ride of a song, before the final double whammy of “Sweetness” and “The Middle” took us slightly past the 9pm curfew to close out a superb vignette from a band who surely have transcended this size of stage and venue, Jim high-fiving the crowd on his way offstage.
Oh yeah, Logan loved it too, despite the omission of his favourite number “Pain”; as he rocked out to “The Middle”, noisily screaming all the words, I couldn’t help but turn to Rach and say, “this, right here, this is why we had kids!!” A similarly confusing exit from Kingston still got us home before 11 after an unusual but nonetheless excellent Jimmy Eat World gig. Here’s hoping for a bigger tour in 2020, though!