I was sceptical. Seeing your favourite childhood band can be a hit or a miss, however, if you take a huge personality and vocalist Tom DeLonge out of a band that practically dominated the American Pie soundtrack Blink 182, then the latter is looking more likely. Sceptical? Yes. Should I have been? Of course not, they rocked!
A late night, last minute impulse buy on Viagogo saw me attend Blink 182 at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, this tour was off the back of their 2016 album ‘California’. After more than 20 years on the circuit, a couple of members come and gone, a breakup, a reunion and also in the mid-90s a legal row over the band name, it goes without saying, this trio has been through a lot, yet despite being at their height 15 years ago, they still attract a fanbase of all ages, some of whom weren’t even old enough to remember when ‘All The Small Things’ burst onto KERRANG back in 1999, myself included.
This gig opened with a Union Jack flag which blocked sight of the stage, dropping to the floor and then the unmistakable sound of one of the groups loudest and most epic tracks, ‘Feeling This’ flooding the room. It was a song which relied heavily on DeLonge’s vocals, yet his successor Matt Skiba and also Mark and Travis managed to open the show with such class you become less aware of his absence. You do later on miss the elegance of DeLonge’s sound and regret his 2015 departure as Skiba’s voice is completely different, not better, not worse, just different.
The Hydro wasn’t filled to capacity, however, the crowd made enough noise to compensate for this shortfall and became invested in a concert that started as a cornucopia of Blink hits. ‘Feeling This’, ‘The Rock Show’,’ What’s My Age Again’, all played within 15 minutes of the gig opening and got everyone up off their seat and immersed in this punk rock throwback. You’d be forgiven for forgetting they were touring a new album!
There was little dialogue from these Californian legends, to begin with, but that is in no way a criticism. They knew exactly what this Glasgow crowd wanted and it was for them to play the anthems that reminded them of an era where you owned several pairs of vans and got a minidisc player for Christmas. Mark Hoppus would later on interact with the crowd, jokingly giving the audience a row for their Scottish chants, as “Here we, here we, here we ***** go” rang around the Hydro. His light-hearted frustrations would be short lived though as he then selected a young man out of the audience named Calvin fought his way to the front requesting to play Bass. Hoppus, a man who doesn’t take things too seriously, accepted. As the band played out ‘Always’, Calvin took over bass and rocked with Blink’s Matt and Travis, sometimes coming across completely overwhelmed during the performance. That’s pretty awesome.
The latter half of the gig was mostly dedicated to their 2016 album, with a couple of oldie tunes to retain the attention of those unfamiliar with their latest work. However, their unique and captivating sound means that even if you haven’t heard the song before, you’ll still make a damn good effort to try and sing it. 'Los Angeles', ‘She’s Out of Her Mind’, ‘Built This Pool’ all performed by an enthusiastic group rocking printed t-shirts and Airwalks to an even more enthusiastic audience who were chanting, singing and also trying to crowd surf. It’s not easy for a group of this genre to perform arenas like the hydro, but they pulled it off in style.
Once the pioneers of punk rock, Blink 182 are a group that recognise their successes of the past and are fully aware that even their most hard-core fans want to hear their biggest hits, however, they’re presence isn’t just to humour our nostalgia but to continue to make the music that ruled supreme in their height back in the 90s/00s. Equally, the fans aren’t just attending these gigs to see them bang out the albums from years gone by, even though they are the soundtrack to many a fans childhood or college days, they recognise that California is a bloody good album. For a band that has been about as long as Blink 182, it is about striking the right balance when playing old material and the new exciting tunes, and Mark, Matt and Travis, hit the nail on the head.