In this part of the world ‘punk’ is a byword for underdog aggression — for the filth and fury.
In America, however, it has historically connoted fizzy, day-glo guitar-pop. Among the foremost exponents of the genre are Mesa, Arizona’s Jimmy Eat World, whose catchy, primary colour anthems blazed a trail for bigger bands such as Green Day and Blink 182.
It’s 13 years since the group’s breakout hit ‘Bleed America’ (retitled ‘Jimmy Eat World’ post 9/11). They’ve never quite scaled those commercial heights again and seem happy to chug along as a largish cult affair, capable of filling, without much effort, medium scale venues such as The Olympia.
This zippy, upbeat concert leaves you in little doubt as to why they are so adored. Their songs may not be perfect, and at their worst are slight and inconsequential, but they blaze past so briskly there always seems to be a catchy chorus around the next corner. ‘I Will Steal You Back’ sounds like Foo Fighters minus the debilitating stadium ambitions; ‘Big Casino’ and ‘My Best Theory’ suggest Weezer, without the passive aggressive angst (as does a surprise tilt at Taylor Swift’s ‘We Are Never Getting Back Together’).
Floppy-haired frontman Jim Adkins knows how to win the crowd.
Early on he apologises in advance for the emotions that may come over him later in the gig, when he will inevitably be rendered speechless by his love for the Olympia (his favourite venue in the world, apparently). It’s a charming turn, though never quite enough to deflect attention from the one-paced nature of their songbook. The classic definition of a great singles band, in small doses Jimmy Eat World are a delightful distraction. Stretched over an evening, though, their charisma, such as it is, begins to wear thin.
Star Rating: 4/5
By Marc O’Sullivan
About the only thing that distinguishes ‘outsider’ artists from other amateurs is the fact that someone, somewhere, has conferred on them the seal of critical approval.
Frank Walter’s route to fame has been similar to that of other ‘outsiders’: a life-long eccentric, he worked in isolation, was largely unknown until late in life, and now enjoys a moderate posthumous reputation.
His naïve style is similar to that of unschooled artists the world over, and has the same rough charm: he had the scantest of technical abilities, but painted what he saw, without inhibition.
Walter was born in Antigua in 1926, and, apart from some early travels through Europe, lived there until his death in 2009. He was descended on one side from slaves, and on the other from some of the island’s earliest plantation owners.
He attended the Antiguan Grammar School with wealthy white children, and enjoyed the benefits of an education not usually accorded to ‘coloured’ locals. This gave him delusions of grandeur: in later life, he convinced himself that he was white, the descendent of European royalty, and isolated himself in a shack for 25 years, where he wrote and painted prodigiously.
Walter’s paintings are small, brightly coloured, and have all the hallmarks of having been completed quickly.
Whatever his limitations, he was a master of the telling detail: in Four Motor Boats, white spray erupts around the vessels as they cut through the sea, while White Bird might be no more than an explosion of white paint on a background of blue were it not for the inclusion of a single beady eye.
Walter completed numerous landscapes, but his greatest strength was as a painter of people, both real and imagined. The subject of Woman and Giant Bird looks genuinely startled: confronted by a large black, crow-like creature, she leaps back in astonishment while green plant tendrils curl around her.
The subject of Drowning Man, meanwhile, seems to be caught in a current within yards of the shore: he throws up his hands and opens his mouth to cry out in terror.
Ultimately, these paintings serve as a record of Antiguan life as experienced by a loveable oddball.
Walter — the self-styled 7th Prince of the West Indies — is said to have typed more than 25,000 pages of prose: these might yet yield a greater insight into his character.
Star Rating: 3/5