Live Review: Tori at the Paramount; An Interview With Jimmy Eat World

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A Conversation With Jimmy Eat WorldThese days, tons of bands try to be simultaneously sensitive and muscular—not to mention radio-friendly—with stirring guitar crunch, sweetly rendered vocal harmonies, and heart-on-sleeve lyrics tackling the personal and the political. But few do it as well, or as genuinely, as Jimmy Eat World, which helped pioneer the whole melodic-emo genre upon its 1993 formation. Fortunately, the Arizona quartet hasn't been one of those acts relegated to forefather obscurity while its spawn enjoy multiplatinum success: The band's sixth album, Chase This Light, debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard charts in October. Jimmy Eat World performed—along with Modest Mouse, Spoon, and others—at 107.7 The End's "Deck the Hall Ball" in Everett on Dec. 6. I chatted with frontman Jim Adkins the other day:M.A.G.: I see you're on the radio-station holiday festival circuit at the moment. Are those kinds of shows strange to do?J.A.: Well, we've played all kinds of places—headlining shows in clubs, opening support slots for stadiums, festivals in the middle of nowhere for nobody. We try to do different things and go to new places. We went to South Africa over the summer. That was a big, big first for us.M.A.G.: Cool. What was that like?J.A.: It was insane. We got to do some crazy safari things.M.A.G.: Oh, like Ernest Hemingway?J.A.: We weren't actually hunting; we were just looking. We'd be five feet away from a rhinoceros, on the rhino's turf.M.A.G.: Which was more intimidating—the rhinoceros, or dealing with sketchy club owners back in the day?J.A.: The rhinoceros, for sure. There's all kinds of club owners and promoter people out there, but we never had a scary, bad time.M.A.G.: So Chase This Light is doing pretty well. Have you been able to step back and assess the album, creatively speaking?J.A.: My objectivity kinda comes and goes. Right now I'm in the execution phase, as opposed to the creation phase.M.A.G.: Would you say there's "art" in the performance aspect of being in a band, or is the art only in the creation part?J.A.: Oh, yeah, definitely in the performance. I think when you really start playing it for people and there's different reactions to different aspects of what you're doing, it teaches you a little bit about it. When you're in the studio and you haven't seen the sun for two weeks, how people are going to interpret it is the least of your worries. Until you get out there, it's still somewhat of an academic exercise. (Click here to read the full interview.)— Michael Alan GoldbergLive Review: Tori Amos at the ParamountTori AmosDec. 5, 2007Paramount TheatreBetter Than: Suckling a baby pig (see below) "You're gonna walk out suckling a baby pig," warned SW contributing photographer Laura Musselman, a die-hard fan of Tori Amos a decade ago, hours before I was to attend her concert. Obviously, I wasn't sure about what I was getting myself into, seeing that the only songs I knew of Tori's were "Corn Flake Girl" and "Professional Widow." And that was only because I had a couple of female friends in high school who were obsessed with the pianist/singer/songwriter. But coddling the little pink belly of a baby pig? What?! That image was all I had riding on the night as I walked toward the Paramount, whose sidewalk was flocked with elder couples, lesbians, dapper gay men, and other folks with various shades of black hair.Tori's backing band, which included two Seattleites, drummer Matt Chamberlin and guitarist Dan Phelps, as well as a bassist, took their positions, before the lady of the night appeared from beneath the drapes in a shiny silver lame dress and leggings. The band broke into the rock-hard "Cruel," then played a very awkward version of Neil Young's "Heart of Gold." (Barr, you would've puked!). The first half of the night was intensely dramatic—from Tori in a push-up position on the floor, slithering slowly toward the piano bench and finally stretching to reach her keys on "Smokey Joe" to the flipping the bird toward the crowd at the end of "The Waitress." She even went through a costume change or two. She ran through various points in her career, including "Big Wheel" off her latest, American Doll Posse, "Sugar," a song I found myself liking more and more as it played on, "Corn Flake Girl," and "Liquid Diamonds."Tori embraced all that her fans want to see and hear—sexual liberation, vulnerability, persuasion, and acute technique. Following "Liquid Diamonds," Tori's ear monitor cut out, when a stagehand appeared from the wing, knelt behind her, and fidgeted with her wardrobe so he could get her set up with a new battery pack. During this time, Tori, the consummate professional that she is, began improvising a song on the piano, singing "Change my pack, I'm coming back, to be a boy, to have one of those confusing toys," which sent the crowd cheering. Uh, was she talking about a dildo?!Tori then played two songs solo on the piano—first "Seaside," then a faithful, yet completely original, rendition of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," much to the delight of the captive Seattle audience. Then, with the band back onstage with her, she worked in "Digital Ghost," "Code Red," and Neil Diamond's "I'm a Believer," which I heard emitting from the speakers in the spacious bathroom. Frankly, it made great peeing music, and as a pretty big Neil Diamond fan, I knew it was my cue to leave. Yet through it all, never once did I think of suckling a baby pig. But in retrospect, the whole night was kind of nurturing.Personal Bias: Bad high-school memories of really strange people I considered friends.Random Detail: The biggest fan of the night that seemed to have the overall best time wasn't a lesbian or gay. It was the sweet, bearded fellow with Down's syndrome across the aisle from me, who had a big old smile, and clapped and cheered the entire night. I'd love to take him out to see more shows. — Travis Ritter

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