Review / photos: Jimmy Eat World dives into its catalog at the Ritz Ybor in Tampa
Quietly, Jimmy Eat World has strung together quite a career. So much so, in fact, that in 2009, they were able to base a tour around the 10th anniversary of one of their early albums (Clarity), and it wasn’t even their biggest-selling album (that would be Bleed American). Any band that can pull that off must be doing something right.
So it was a little surprising to see a lighter-than-expected crowd at the Ritz Ybor Wednesday for Jimmy Eat World’s first Tampa concert since 2007. Maybe it was the fact that it was humpday; maybe it was the fact that everyone you know has a cold (or is that just us?).
But fans of Clarity, Bleed American and every album since had a lot to like about Wednesday’s show. Over 90 minutes, Jimmy Eat World proved they’re a power-pop singles machine, plowing through 20 tracks plucked evenly from each epoch of their 18-year-career.
Following a somewhat dirgelike opening set from Pedro the Lion’s David Bazan, Jimmy Eat World kicked into Bleed American's title track right off the bat, showcasing their greatest skill: Writing simple, irresistable, uplifting, three-minute pop songs.
Singer Jim Adkins is the band’s focal point, twisting and jerking with his guitar behind the mic, tossing his stringy, sweaty bangs from his eyes. His voice sounds like he’s perpetually straining for that next note up on the scale, but he always managed to hit it. On the awesome Let It Happen, from 2007’s Chase This Light, he pounded his left foot with the beat and inspired fans to yell along.
For most of the show, the rest of the band stood stock-still, with the exception of guitarist Tom Linton, who handled lead vocals on Blister, and turned it into a Green Dayish '90s punk rocker.
Fans dug Jimmy Eat World’s selection of songs, especially those from Clarity (although they didn’t play Lucky Denver Mint — um, okay?). And while there wasn’t much straight-up dancing until the encore, when Jimmy Eat World closed with the one-two punch of The Middle and Sweetness, there were many sing-alongs on slower tracks like Hear You Me and For Me This Is Heaven.
As lovely as those slower songs sounded, Jimmy Eat World is still at their best when the music is driving and pumping, which explains why a song like The Middle was a hit, and a song like Hear You Me, for all its merits, was not. The most interesting moment of the night was a song that combined the both elements, Goodbye Sky Harbor, which clocks in at 16 minutes on Clarity. Introduced by Adkins with a simple, “This is an older number,” the song meandered from dreamlike lullaby to motivational fist-pumper, employing bells, vocal loops and tics to sound unlike anything else in the set.
Maybe Jimmy Eat World isn’t the band you rock out to in public. Maybe they’re the band you rock out to in your bedroom. That might explain why the house wasn’t packed Wednesday — and why Jimmy Eat World will always have passionate fans, no matter how many concert tickets they sell.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*. Photos: Andrew Carlton, tbt*.
1. Bleed American
2. My Best Theory
3. Coffee And Cigarettes
4. Let It Happen
5. For Me This Is Heaven
8. Big Casino
10. Action Needs An Adventure
14. Hear You Me
17. Goodbye Sky Harbor
19. The Middle