Blink-182 at the O2 arena
By the time Blink-182 took the stage they really had no option than to play an amazing set. The throngs of fans had been chanting their name for minutes before the curtain was finally dropped and they launched into Feeling This. It was a particularly forgiving crowd, a mix of young and old shouting along to almost every song. No less than three mosh pits broke out in the packed standing area, and the security had their hands full dragging crowd surfers away. In a way, the spectacle of perpetually juvenile band managed to make up for a sloppy performance. Tom and Mark skipped and ran around the stage with a charisma clearly honed from playing to crowds this size innumerable times.
Travis Barker’s performance was a thing of wonder. It was like watching a professional footballer play with some kids in the park. He effortlessly hammered out the songs with breathtaking precision, becoming the engine of all the tracks. While Tom and Mark’s messy vocals and instrumentation may have been in the punk ethos, when contrasted with one of the greatest drummers alive, they sounded like a pub band. I Miss You was sorely let down by a lack of vocal talent and would probably have been better if Blink had let the crowd take on the singing duties.
What Blink-182 lacked musically was more than made up through cheeky charm and unending enthusiasm. Every song was belted out with a smile on their face and frenetic energy that sent the crowd wild with delight. The atmosphere was electric and the big songs were met with thunderous cheers. The band were almost unintelligible while performing All The Small Things as the audience erupted into song and sang the whole song with surprising skill.
In between songs, Tom and Mark had an amiable rapport with the crowd that would have seemed ridiculous and pathetically childish from any other band. Toilet humour and jokes about blow jobs from Chewbacca were the order of the day. While the comedy was groaningly bad, an ample pinch of salt and a tongue firmly in cheek seemed to make it okay.
While Blink-182’s performance was far from technically good it was impossible not to get swept up in the wave of aging pop punk. Never has the O2 seen so many neck tattoos and old tour T-shirts. Their performance was a testament to the punk idea: that having heart is a lot more important than being able to play a guitar and sing. That being said, Travis Barker’s drum solo at the start of the encore was a stroke of genius. The man literally drew blood as he kept the show cohesive; he, more than any musician alive today, looks at home playing live. It was quite amazing that Blink-182 managed to turn back time at the O2 Arena and make it seem like they are still kings of the charts. With the charisma and energy they gave off, it was like they had never been away.
For upcoming UK tour dates visit the band’s website here.