Pop-punk royalty deliver a trademark performance in one of London’s most iconic venues.
Before we dive into the headline set we must first acknowledge the support. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it in time to catch The Front Bottoms open the evening, although, saying that, I did watch their set at 2000 Trees a couple of weeks ago and wasn’t exactly overwhelmed – perhaps not a massive loss to the evening. On the other hand, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls were absolutely phenomenal. The way they worked the crowd made it hard to believe that they were just the support band. Hits like Recovery, Photosynthesis and I Still Believe were received with rapturous applause, even from those who were not necessarily fans coming into the show – they certainly will be now. Turner’s assurance on stage is the essence of an accomplished and seasoned professional – a true class act bolstered by a band of equal mettle. (4.5/5 Bytes.)
Now, onto the main attraction. As soon as the mammoth banner featuring the iconic blink logo (superimposed on a British flag) was unfurled in front of the stage, the excitement amongst the audience increased twofold. For many, this would be the first time seeing their heroes perform live, for myself and others, this would be the first time seeing two of their heroes perform live with Matt Skiba. No disrespect to Skiba, personally, I am incredibly impressed by the way in which he has managed to cement himself as commonplace in the blink-182 setup. If the quality of last year’s California isn’t proof enough that Skiba is worthy of acceptance then I’m not sure what more the man can do. His voice and personality may not be as iconic as Tom DeLonge’s but no musicians’ is – DeLonge is truly one of a kind.
If I’m honest, their live show tonight did miss his presence. There was a distinct lack of dick jokes and shit banter coming from the band – both of which are reasons I fell in love with them – watching footage of their shows gone by on YouTube really made me want to be a part of the crowd. The way in which Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge would bounce off each other was genuinely infectious. Instead, we have a silent Matt Skiba (dressed like a dad on a safari) and a repressed Mark Hoppus. It’s important to note that Hoppus was not at his best for this show – through no fault of his own. Unfortunately, their stop in Bournemouth had to be cut short due to illness and for a moment, it appeared they may have to also cancel this London stretch of the tour. Thankfully, they were there, albeit weathered. Hoppus’ voice sounded tired and his energy somewhat depleted.
I want to make it abundantly clear that this show was still a phenomenal spectacle and we all had a great time. After all, we were witnessing legends of the industry playing hits that spanned across their 25-year long career. In fact, the set list was the best part of the night. I was fortunate enough to hear songs that I had never heard live, namely Man Overboard, Dysentery Gary and Reckless Abandon, all of which were a true treat. The tracks from California sounded the best on a technical level as they were naturally suited more to Skiba’s voice. However, the classics made the biggest impression on the crowd, we won’t ever tire of listening to the likes of All The Small Things, What’s My Age Again? and Dammit.
Another slight disappointment for me was the lack of material from 2011’s Neighbourhoods, I can appreciate how the album was very much driven by DeLonge’s creative dispositions but even so, I would’ve appreciated hearing the highlights such as Up All Night and Heart’s All Gone, I don’t feel as though they would have been amiss in this setlist. One thing that has been utterly consistent since his appointment to the band in 1998 is the sheer brilliance of Travis Barker – in my opinion, he is one of the greatest drummers to ever live and his performance reflected just that. Absolutely flawless and astoundingly breath-taking.
All in all, this was an incredible show. I would never turn down the opportunity to see one of the most important bands in my life and it was a pleasure to watch them do what they do best. Perhaps I am being overly critical, but I find it necessary to highlight the potential negatives, it prevents me from taking the positives for granted. Time is of the essence here, no one knows how much longer blink-182 will be around and so we must make the most of performances like this one.