California’s Blink-182 are generally regarded as one the pioneers of pop punk, and have been ever since their very beginning 22 years ago. Ahead of their headline performance at this year’s Reading and Leeds festivals, they took to the much smaller stage at O2 Academy, Brixton for two nights, to put on incredible performances for their more than dedicated fanbase. It’s become somewhat of a tradition for the band to perform at the South London venue while warming up for festival appearances, and it’s no surprise that they managed to captivate the crowd effortlessly when we went to check them out last Friday.
Welsh pop punkers Neck Deep were first on, showcasing just how flawlessly the British can do when it comes to the genre. Straight off of the Vans Warped Tour in the US, vocalist Ben Barlow admitted that it was good to be back in the UK, and went on to agree that without the presence of Blink-182, they probably wouldn’t even be a band – such is the case for a lot of bands in the modern scene who grew up listening to the likes of Blink and Green Day. If they were nervous at all to be opening for such a huge name in front of so many people then they certainly didn’t show it, as they powered through their set with as much confidence as if they were the ones headlining tonight. One of the band’s more well known songs, ‘A Part Of Me‘, features guest vocals from Laura Whiteside, who surprised the crowd by joining the band on stage to perform her part and ultimately creating a sense of togetherness the audience definitely seemed to appreciate. You really do have to admire Neck Deep as they stepped up to the challenge and succeeded, which is a difficult task when performing to the devoted fans of a band that have been around for as long as you’ve been alive.
Eventually it was time for the stars of the show to hit the stage, and behind them the backdrop showed that smiley face logo that everyone has become familiar with. Cheers rang out across the room as the three men; Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker ran on to the stage with as much energy as they would have 20 years ago, stirring emotions within the crowd. The first track they treated their fans to was ‘Feeling This‘, a world-renowned favourite from the band’s eponymous album, and then they charged through more crowd-pleasing songs such as ‘The Rock Show‘, ‘Up All Night‘ and ‘Dumpweed‘.
It wasn’t long before the backdrop behind them fell, revealing big screens giving audience members who were stuck at the back an opportunity to see what was going on. The serious songs such as ‘I Miss You‘ and ‘Stay Together For The Kids‘ had people with their lighters in the air and their arms around their friends, making the most of the moment and drowning in what was essentially pure nostalgia. The light show around the trio was somewhat blinding depending on where you were standing, but it was certainly well thought out and it complimented the music perfectly.
Blink had played most of their hits (including the one that pretty much everyone in the world knows, ‘All The Small Things‘) by the time they had left the stage for the first time, but there was one song that everyone had on their mind so they began to chant for the return of the phenomenal rockers. They soon rocked up on to the stage again, revealing behind them the F-word engulfed in flames and great entertainment to the waiting audience. They got on to performing ‘Violence‘, then next the song that everyone had been anticipating, ‘Dammit‘. This was the crowd’s last chance, so of course they belted out the lyrics so loud that Hoppus and DeLonge could almost not be heard. Finishing up with the controversial ‘Family Reunion‘ and a drum solo from Barker, it was safe to say that the crowd was left feeling like they’d seen their money’s worth.
Taking in to account their age and the fact they had a four year hiatus until 2009, it’s astounding and impressive to see that Blink can still perform as well as they could back in the day. Barker is still one of the most talented drummers there is, DeLonge’s vocals still manage to hit the notes, while Hoppus just continues to be the definition of cool. The ages of fans at the show ranged monumentally, from young teens who probably got Enema Of The State as one of their very first CDs from HMV, to adults who are likely to have been at some of Blink’s very first shows, but regardless they came together in perfect harmony to enjoy what was essentially a spectacle of incredible standard.