On Wednesday night, pop-punk veterans Blink-182 took The O2 on a trip down memory lane with twenty years of rocking tunes.
California-based Blink-182 are one of those bands that my generation will always see as part of their teenage years. We rocked out to All The Small Things and our love songs were the likes of Missing You. So when the trio took to the road again with their new album California, I just had to be there – especially when the supports are Frank Turner and The Front Bottoms.
When it comes to bands from New Jersey, I’ll admit I’m not very unbiased. There just isn’t many bands from that area that I haven’t fallen in love with, maybe it’s something in the water (someone check with Bruce!). So it came to no surprised that when put on stage at the 20,000-cap venue they rocked it like it’s all they’ve ever done. With tracks like West Virginia, Maps and Twin Size Matters they got the evening started in style and they sure won over the part of the crowd that hadn’t heard them before.
Second support of the night comes from English troubadour and folk-punk singer Frank Turner and his Sleeping Souls. As someone who has seen Frank Turner more times than I can count on both hands, it was definitely a strange thought seeing him before the headliner. There’s something about Frank Turner shows that just never gets old – the heart and soul he and the entire band put into every set. There was the “sitting down, and jumping up” part of Photosynthesis, there was a super enthusiastic harmonica solo from Larry (actually, his name was Harry as it turns out) and of course there was a shout-out to charity Safe Gigs For Women which Turner had been supporting since its foundation. The group raise awareness for girls getting harassed at shows, and offer help and support as well working with venues and festivals to stop those occurrences from happening. (seriously, they’re great, check them out!). And yes, there was even crowdsurfing! It seems like it’s a rediscovered passion for the Hampshire-born singer.
This UK tour was the first for Blink-182 since Tom Delong left the group in 2015 to focus on other things (like, erm, aliens). Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba joined the band shortly after and in the eyes of the fans had some pretty big shoes to fill. And it can’t have been easy, Tom’s iconic vocals added an extra dash of adolescence to the band’s songs. So while the pressure may have been on to impress, it turned out to be not that hard to do. With a setlist full of “all the hits” taking the audience on a trip back in time, Blink-182 had no trouble getting the audience to sing along and fill the “Whoa, whoa”‘s in between lines.
Kicking off with 2003’s Feeling This and a not so subtle, fiery FUCK as backdrop it was clear that the band and their fans are bonded in mutual refusal to grow up. Songs about mean parents and teenage heartache still go down a treat. It’s the What’s My Age Again, The Rock Show and First Date’s that receive big cheers and remind us why we love this band so much. “Ladies, this one’s for you” was Mark Hoppus’ introduction to the 2003 hit Missing You. The crowd hangs at Mark and Matt’s every lyric and goosebumps are everywhere.
Then it’s lights out at The O2 as Mark urges the audience to turn on the torches on their phones as they will be playing a song entirely in the dark. Romantic you think? No sir. This is Blink-182, if they’re singing in the dark, it couldn’t be any other track than 1999’s Family Reunion. Let’s just say, don’t google the lyrics at work.
Their recently released new record California is the first one with Matt in the band and has earned the band a Grammy nomination no less. It still embodies the iconic Blink sound, with newer themes and a slightly darker and deeper side. New songs from the album blend in seamlessly with older songs, and are welcomed by fans just as well. Especially the likes of Bored To Death, She’s Out Of Her Mind and Los Angeles.
And so the night comes to a close, with a belter of an encore including the best-ever-Blink-182-song All The Small Things and Dammit, and an insane drum solo from Travis Barker’s son. Landon. And with over 20 years under their belt, these guys still have that pop-punk fire and electric show power to wow arenas full of fans. It’s a winning formula: Travis Barker’s drumming talents, Mark Hoppus and Matt Skiba’s vocals taking us back to our adolescence, it was truly a night to remember.