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Concert review: Jimmy Eat World has only gotten better with age

The nostalgic and the new age collided at Thursday night’s Jimmy Eat World show at Newport Music Hall. The Mesa, Arizona-based band brought their timeless yet ever-refreshing sound to Columbus in full force, delivering a set list that stretched through the years and across the band’s seven studio albums and drew from their recent single releases as well.

Opening up with, “Get Right,” one of the band’s 2016 single releases, it was clear that the band wanted to make things lively. Lead vocalist and guitarist Jim Adkins was all smiles as he expressed his love for playing at The Newport and in Ohio in general.

Adkins’ voice has always sounded youthful yet with a pitch of soul. The band’s  use of backup vocals from guitarist Tom Linton coupled with Adkins’ higher-pitched voice, which is melodic yet scratchy at times, is a signature of Jimmy Eat World. Even though the band has been making music since 1993, it still sounds as fresh as if it were recording its first album.

One of Jimmy Eat World’s most popular albums, “Futures,” which debuted in 2004, still holds a big place in fans’ and the band’s heart. They played, “23,” “Futures” and “Work” from the album.

The band perfectly blended old with new during the show, which the crowd appreciated, as evidenced by its reaction as the first notes of each song sounded off.

It was like watching a crowd full of cast members from ‘90s and early 2000s TV shows rock out to their own shows’ soundtracks. Each song was a chapter in the two decades and Jimmy Eat World has done a great job of not changing its sound, but evolving it and fine tuning it throughout the years. Adkins is one of the few vocalists out there that who has successfully managed to sound consistently better on every album as the band’s discography has progressed.

What was by far the best part of the show was the fact that the band did not initially play any of the songs that almost everyone, even those who don’t listen to Jimmy Eat World, knows. In fact, it was unsure that it would even play classic songs such as “The Middle” and “Sweetness.” All of its music since those hits is just as good; that’s the best thing about this band. Almost everything it makes is another great album chronicled by a nostalgia-ridden sound and a new feature of modern alternative music. But, staying true to its fans and its roots, Jimmy Eat World delivered.

After playing the last song on the primary set list, everyone, of course, stuck around to cheer, shout, whistle and yell for an encore. Jimmy Eat World returned to the stage with Adkins reiterating how much appreciation he had for the support over the years and for the longtime fans. He even related a story about how their first gig was in the basement of a bagel shop with only  two other people and another band performing. He had a look of fulfillment as he thanked the crowd and then said what everyone was waiting for.

“We wrote this song about 17 years ago and it remains one of our favorites and it still blows my mind how much love for this song people have,” Adkins said.

With that, the fast beginning notes of the song, “The Middle,” resounded to a roaring response from a patient crowd. A chorus of every single person in the Newport sang out with Adkins, the band and even bassist Rick Burch could be heard individually as the song roared around the room.

But the band wasn’t done after that. It finally played “Sweetness” and finished the night with the popular 2016 single, “Sure and Certain,” a song that sounds like all the greatest songs from past albums mashed into one. With a crash of cymbals and flurry of lights and guitar, the show ended, Adkins thanked the crowd again and they walked off the stage, ending a great performance that The Newport was a great host to.
I don’t like to use the word “I” in reviews of concerts, but in my 22 years of life, if there was ever a band that was consistently there as I grew up, it’s Jimmy Eat World. I had to take a moment and compose myself as I remembered every time I heard a Jimmy Eat World song in movies, on the radio and at some big moments in my life.  So I want to attribute many thanks and say how honored I am to have been the one to write the review on Jimmy Eat World, one of the best contemporary yet classic alternative rock groups out there.


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