By Dan Adams
It would be fair to wonder if a band like Jimmy Eat World, who has been making music for more than a decade, would have lost a proverbial “beat” in their live performance. It was in fact just the opposite when skinnier, younger-looking frontman Jimmy Adkins walked on the stage at 40 Watt Club in Athens on Monday night. In the last 15 years they have released seven studio albums, and experienced everything success has to offer them, and yet they gave the kind of energy filled, professional performance we have come to expect from the veteran band. The small club setting gave the kind of intimate feel that would be desired by any long time fan.
The band opened with the title track from their platinum album, Bleed American, followed by their newest single, “my best theory.” Every note they sang sounded like a full choir of harmonies and electric guitar. As well as embarking on this smaller club tour, Jimmy Eat World has recently added the accompaniment of female vocals and keys sung by Courtney Marie Andrews. She is also the one responsible for all the female lyrics and vocals on the band’s newest album, Invented. It is yet another element the band has added to give even more depth to the already intricate songwriting that is Jimmy Eat World. As I listened to songs like “hear you me” and “for me this is heaven,” I had the thought that they are one of the few bands that can take serenity and rock ‘n’ roll, blend them together, and allow them to coexist. They treated us to the full catalog of songs that narrated the lives of so many of us long time fans. Meanwhile, Adkins sang his lyrics with such clarity and emotion that it took us back to the time and place when they first moved us. Whenever it was that you first heard them, the ability to find yourself in their songs was not absent on Monday night.
Right before the encore we were given the opportunity to hear a rare live performance of the final track on Clarity, “goodbye sky harbor.” It is a 16-minute song filled with looping guitars and layered harmonies. For the final eight or so minutes of the song, Adkins reproduced the outro with a machine that recorded and looped his four-part harmony, making for one of the most unique and memorable crescendo’s of a live set that I have heard. When the band finally returned for the encore they opened with the title track from Invented, followed by their platinum hit, “the middle.” They ended the evening with their anthem,” sweetness,” and the entire crowd sang every melody line with the same vigor as Adkins himself. The set was a perfect picture of the long and storied career of a band that has never compromised the sound that has made them so unique. They played the songs of our youth that night, never giving a hint they will be slowing down anytime soon.