All week we've been sharing personal essays about Jimmy Eat World's Clarity, online and in print. Sadly, I don't have a Clarity story because I wasn't in to the Mesa emo/pop act until my college paper got an advance copy of Bleed American, the follow-up to Clarity, in July 2001. But man, oh man, did I love Bleed American. We played that record a few times every day in the college paper office, to the point that our ex-Deadhead newspaper adviser knew all the words.
On September 10, 2001, I had tickets to see Jimmy Eat World at my all-time favorite concert club, The Agora Ballroom in Cleveland. Unfortunatly, that Monday was a production night for our twice-weekly paper and things got backed up on the copy desk, so when my friend Andy Downing (now a music critic at The Chicago Tribune) was ready to leave for the show, I told him to go without me so I could proof my pages. The next day, when it seemed like the world was coming to an end, I gravely regretted my decision, realizing life was too short to let a job get between me and something as important as a show by my favorite band of the moment.
Anyway, all that's a long explanation for why last night's Clarity tenth anniversary show at the Marquee was my first time ever seeing Jimmy Eat World. Ever since that ill-fated night eight years ago, the closest I've come is seeing Jim Adkins at a bowling tournament for local indie rock types. Though I'll always associate the band with another era, and another album, seeing the 1999 masterpiece played in it's entirety for an adoring sell-out crowd really deepened my appreciation for the record, probably the most influential ever released by an Arizona band.
We've heaped hyperbole on Clarity all week here, and last night's show demonstrated why: from the opening drone of the esoteric "A Table For Glasses" through the soft acoustic touches on the 16-minute closer, "Goodbye Sky Harbor," it's a masterpiece on par with anything released in the 1990s.
As for how it sounded this night? Well, the crowd -- the Marquee was packed to the gills with 20-somethings singing along to all the words -- loved it. "For Me This is Heaven" got the reaction of the night (at least until closer "Sweetness") while the punky "Blister," sung by guitarist Tom Linton, was my favorite of the night. Adkins seemed impressed, too: "We've done four songs and I already think this is my favorite Phoenix show we've done." That's good enough for me.
"Table for Glasses"
"Lucky Denver Mint"
"Your New Aesthetic"
"Believe in What You Want"
"Just Watch the Fireworks"
"For Me This Is Heaven"
"Goodbye Sky Harbor"
"What Would I Say to You Now"
Last Night: Jimmy Eat World plays Clarity in it's entirety to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the album.
Better Than: New Miserable Experience played through? Let's find out, Gin Blossoms!
Personal Bias: It's not cool to say so, but the (platinum) Bleed American changed my life, while the (still underground-ish) Clarity is just an album I've enjoyed from time to time.
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Random Detail: I spent the show standing between UotS contributors Kelly Wilson and Stephen Chilton both of whom were at the Clarity CD release party at The Green Room ten years ago. Crazy.
Further Listening: "Get It Faster."
By The Way: Kelly was very happy to hear "23." Good job, gentlemen.