Tour - California European tour
Support - The Front Bottoms, Frank Turner and the Sleeping souls
The lights dimmed, the crowd screamed and the big union jack flag covering the stage with Blink's logo on the front dropped - a flaming "Fuck" illuminated the back of the stage, so hot the audience could feel it on their already dehydrated selves. The band, who are looking on top form, opened the show with Feeling this. The fan favourite gets everyone singing along and created an explosive atmosphere that did not die down. The Rock Show followed, Mark sounded impressive in his vocal delivery. This is a surprise to many as Mark has often sounded flat and monotone at shows of more recent years, however here is an exception. Mark sang well, got the crowd to scream along and most importantly hopped around on stage like a man in his 20s playing his first gig, clearly a man who despite his age (45) moves onstage with more energy than most singers half his age, all whilst playing, albeit simple, bass lines.
Cynical, the opening track off of the bands newest release, and first with new guy Matt Skiba, California goes down very well with the crowd. Blink prove they aren't just an old band who come to play the hits/classics, they've made a new album and they're going to play it. The set list is in fact majority California material featuring 8 tracks off the album.
|Photo - J. Dempsey|
Next up were more California tracks with the phenomenal Bored to Death, a song in which Skiba's vocals shine on and Mark's subtle bass chords are fitting to the whole song's tone. Built this pool followed, a 17 second long comedic song about wanting to "see some naked dudes"
Down was played, the crowd love it but it is only the calm before the storm as the crowd are brought into a joyous frenzy with Miss You. Skiba sounds incredible and truly proves that he is worthy to sing the song in the place of Tom DeLonge. While not a technical masterpiece, the song is truly a milestone in the band's career and their lyrical ability.
Two Enema/TOYPAJ era tracks are played followed by two California tracks, it is clear the earlier works are better received however Kings of the weekend and She's out of her mind are interesting and catchy and certainly not bad, just when compared to classics such as Dumpweed they do appear less enjoyable.
Violence was a highlight of the shows, with Travis Barker's precise and often underappreciated drum work shining through, the man never slowed down during the show, an incredible showman despite being at the back and not saying anything, that shows true talent. Skiba sang the choruses with ease as the adoring crowd sang along, a memorable moment and a performance that proves Blink 182 are not a joke but a talented band who, at times, like to have fun - Violence is the band showing their more serious musicianship and lyricism as a band.
Before Violence Barker was given a brief drum solo, while short it showed the immaculate drumming of a man who is often disregarded for playing for that band "who wrote a song about fucking a dog in the ass". however, like the whole of Blink, Travis should be respected for his musicianship and physical ability, he plays with the energy, power and speed of a man half his age. Travis Barker is the most talented musician of Blink 182, that is undisputable.
The band announced a "special surprise", while some were expecting a new song, instead the band played something better - happy holidays, you bastard! The crowd had the stage lights off and instead had the audience light the room with their phone lights, a short song that created an immense amount of energy within the room that is unchallenged by many other bands. A stupid song that brought a room of thousands of people to stupid grins as everyone yelled "Unless your dad will suck me off" and "and he's always fucking shitting his pants!". Stupid, fun and an unforgettable moment.
Ending the show with another California track, Los Angeles, an anthemic catchy song that is a highlight of both California the album and the show itself.
The lights darkened for a coupe of minutes, the crowd still screamed, they knew an encore was certain and it was one hell of an encore -
All the small things, a somewhat awful song, somehow is infectiously enjoyable. the crowd sing in unison as "na na na na na na" is chanted over and over. A weak song in the Blink library, yet live it is an enjoyable nostalgia wave that is impossible to not sing along to.
Dammit, the only track to be played off Dude Ranch (which recently had its 20th anniversary), makes the crowd move, The short punk rock blast of teenage aggression about losing a girlfriend still has the same energy being sang by the band who are in their 40s and married, they may be older but they can still perform the songs they wrote as young men convincingly with passion. Flames and gritty distortion ends the shows.....until they band continue with Barker's son, Landon, on drums and the band played a small minute or so jam that then concluded with Hoppus casually saying "bye, bye Birmingham" - and the show is over.
An incredible experience the band kept the whole audience of mixed ages interested and invested in them and their antics. Each member performed with flawless skill that struck awe into the admiring viewers. An unforgettable show that pleased both causal and hardcore Blink fans.
Daniel A. Clarke
Set - http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/blink182/2017/barclaycard-arena-birmingham-england-be4159a.html