We were at Brixton Academy to see the first of two Blink 182 shows in the build up to their headlining slot at Reading and Leeds. Here’s what went down...
Blink 182, live in London
Venue: Brixton Academy
Pop punk’s biggest stars light up Brixton...
Support band Prides bemuse the pop punk faithful
Twenty minutes later than billed, Glaswegian trio Prides arrive on stage to minimal fanfare and there are many bemused faces in the crowd despite the band sounding solid. Their '80s synth pop intertwines with some huge harmonies and is reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie and Chvrches. There’s no denying that Prides are a tight band, but at £45 a ticket punters probably expected something a bit more geared towards your typical Blink fan and may feel they would have better spent their money getting a ticket to see Neck Deep open the show on Friday.
A screaming Blink crowd still has the power to deafen you
The air now thick with anticipation and the smell of warm, overpriced beer, the crowd are more than a bit excited for the arrival of their heroes. Under a giant Blink ‘Smiley’ flag, the San Diegan trio get ready for action and kick straight into Feeling This to some of the loudest screams we’ve heard all year. There may only be three of them, but Mark, Tom and Travis all have such commanding personalities that they make the massive Academy stage look like a club venue floor. The flag drops to reveal an impressive array of moving lights and screens that shine brightly as they delve head first into a career spanning single run of What’s My Age Again?, The Rock Show , Up All Night and Down. The magic is still there between Mark and Tom as they trade off insults and joke with the crowd throughout, with the biggest joke of all coming from Delonge, explaining that he is the best guitarist in the world...
Blink's back catalogue is very impressive
Now two decades into their career, Blink have an enormous collection of grade A material, which they show off with aplomb in the Academy. I Miss You brings out the lighters/smart phones before the opening chords of Dumpweed raise the screams to One Direction levels. There’s barely been a dip in quality over their six studio albums and this is outed in the live setting with the cheery Wishing Well, the romantic Always, the rampant Happy Holidays, You Bastard (played entirely in the dark) and the colossal Stay Together for the Kids. Throughout, we get more sporadic outbursts from Mark and Tom, Mark explaining that he now calls football ‘football’ and Tom going on a bit too much about how important it is that he gets his water.
They’re still punks at heart
Despite their later material venturing into various genres, Blink 182 are still a pop punk band at the end of the day. Mark tries desperately to throw someone in the crowd with butter fingers a plectrum before they smash into the Dogs Eating Dogs from the EP of the same name, sounding raw and urgent. An unexpected but very welcomed cover of Misfits’ Hybrid Moments gets a good cheer from the crowd and is a reminder that despite their success, Blink still call punk/pop punk their home.
Tom Delonge still can’t play guitar properly
You’d think after twenty years, Tom Delonge would have learned how to play well live, right? Wrong. Natives is one of the stand out cuts from Neighbourhoods, but is marred live by the fact that the riff is faster than his fingers can move. This is soon forgotten however, as Man Overboard has everyone dancing and singing along in unison. Ghost on the Dancefloor allows Travis to take centre stage, his arms a blur of cymbal hitting fury before All the Small Things and Carousel bring the set to a glorious conclusion.
Blink 182 actually give a flaming fuck
Wait, it’s not over yet. As the intro to Violence loops, Blink come back to the stage with their infamous flaming ‘FUCK’ sign burning brightly above, which is a true sight to behold. The energy levels are still high even though the Academy is now at boiling point and a finale of Dammit and Family Reunion sees us off into the night sweaty and exhausted, but with huge smiles on our faces. Bring on Reading and Leeds...
BLINK 182 HEADLINE LEEDS FESTIVAL ON AUGUST 22 AND READING FESTIVAL ON AUGUST 24.