Live Review: Blink-182

8th June - O2 Arena, London

I never worried about conforming at school. I didn’t feel I was specifically linked to those who listened to Goth, or Grunge or the Punks or the stupidly attired Hip Hop boys. I was busy listening to everything from ABBA to Zappa, Tone Loc to Pearl Jam but there was a very popular gap in my musical repertoire ‘Pop Punk’.

Back in the 90’s, (yes I am old according to the girl in our sandwich shop) our sixth form room stereo would constantly be blaring out bands like Fallout Boy, Good Charlotte and The Offspring and I would sit there feeling that it was as un-enjoyable as waking up to the noises produced by your parents having sex. I was right then and I’m right now. Here at the O2, 18 years on, it feels like I’m unwillingly entering a school reunion. All those sixth form kids are back. But the girls have got fat and the boys are going bald, all having left their cashmere jumpers at home and reliving their youth by donning their new Blink-182 T's.

So to be clear, I’ve walked into the O2, not because I am a fan. But because being special (I don’t mean that in a cool way) I get lavished with free tickets. And here is where my problem lies. I’ve grown up and got even grumpier. This emotion is, I assume how Jeremy Clarkson feels at the launch of a compact and economic family car.

This gig was originally scheduled to take place on July 18th 2011. Due to issues at the time claimed to be due to the album they wanted to tour taking to long to complete (this is the now released album Neighborhoods) and I have to say I think the band made the right decision and dare I say it, it’s a remarkable album as the band seem to finally want to tackle a more mature musical sound. Anyway, back to the reunion, sorry the gig. We missed the two support bands, Four Year Strong and The All-American Rejects, so can’t comment there. We entered the arena just as the announcement asked us all to take our seats (yes, as noted above, we’re old, the tickets were seating ones). And the lights went out... The middle aged British screamed and shouted for their anti heroes, and finally messrs Hopper, De Longe and Barker smashed through the sound barrier with a mixture of tracks from their back catalogue. Particularly poignant moments included the track What’s My Age Again? with the line;

"Nobody likes you when you're twenty three"

Ironic as the average age around us was over 30 and yes, we genuinely no longer like those who signify our long lost seed sowing past. Speaking of the past, it wasn’t until over halfway through we started to hear the newer material, which I have to say I really enjoyed. Some of the earlier stuff is not to my liking. It’s just to simple. Basic riffs, unimaginative playing that wouldn’t have moved them out of a pub circuit nowadays. But thinking back 20 years when the band started, we were engulfed with some of the most over worked and overproduced music in history, so no wonder bands like this found an audience looking for a bit of honesty. But as I say, it was about being at the right place at the right time (that’s the only justification I can accept when it comes to Offspring).

The lighting man deserves a special accolade at this point. The band had a very good light show. Coupled with use of a screen it gave some very clever and interesting visuals to look at. Less interesting was the effect placed on the band when they appeared on the screens for us near the rear. One comment noted on the way out was that it was to cover up the fact the band are old men. Now please don’t shoot the messenger! But it would be nice to see the band in action, not hidden behind outdated over digitized garbage on the screens. For those who aren’t aware of their live pedigree, the band are very accomplished musically. Travis Barker is potentially on of the greatest Drummers of his generation and I dare anyone to not agree that he puts every ounce of energy and passion into his performance. He’s inspiring to watch.

I’d been built up back at Gigseen HQ regarding his drum solo being a high-flying adventure into the audience but sadly tonight it was a static on the stage affair. No matter how accomplished it was, it was an awesome lighting set up for the drum solo that blew me away. All night the lighting was far better than the sound which they never seemed to get right with vocals getting lost a little too often for this oldie. Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge entertained from the front with some funny between song banter. This allowed this Blink-182 newbie to warm to the band. Knowing that Hopper had not only made London his home, but that he was a Star Wars fan almost made me want to stalk him. This openness and honest interaction with fans is welcoming and unique in a sterile music market.

By now you are probably wondering why someone who states in the outset of this live review that he isn’t really a fan has managed a thousand words on a band he doesn’t like. We’ll this morning I woke up at the end of what is a 20 year journey to find some kind of respect for the band. They were better musically than I expected. They were entertaining. I don’t like their older stuff (bar the obvious hits like All The Small Things). But I think up until last night I didn’t realize that they were just three guys having a brilliant time and having a laugh... and that made it really a really good gig.

For me, I think Neighborhoods is the start of my relationship with the band. And for that some respect is due to Blink-182. There can’t be many bands that 20 years on are able to finally break a doubter into some form of submission. Oh and any man (yes, you mister Barker) who lets his daughter (I assume) sit beside Daddy whilst he is at work in front of an arena audience is a great person in my book. That’s what music should be about and I am today enjoying my new found respect by listening again to Neighborhoods. I may have to call up my old school friends and tell them about this new band I’ve just found.

Set List:

  • Feeling This
  • Up All Night
  • The Rock Show
  • What's My Age Again?
  • Down
  • I Miss You
  • Wishing Well
  • Blow Job
  • Dumpweed
  • Always
  • Violence
  • After Midnight
  • First Date
  • Heart's All Gone
  • Man Overboard
  • Ghost on the Dancefloor
  • Fuck a Dog
  • All The Small Things
  • Josie


  • Travis Drum Solo
  • Carousel
  • Dammit
  • Family Reunion