The self proclaimed pioneers of “crappy punk rock”, Blink 182 have existed in one form or another for more than 20 years and are back performing on UK shores for the first time in 5 years.
The band have seen something of a renaissance in recent years as their latest album ‘California’ scored the band their first number one in 15 years and cemented Alkaline Trio‘s, Matt Skiba as an official member of the band after he took over from the departed, Tom DeLonge.
The cynics and pessimists among the music world may consider this show as Blink 182-“Lite” but you can’t argue with the 8,000 strong crowd as they pile their way into the Castlefield Bowl, aching to hear the hits of their youth.
Before the main event the crowd had the pleasure of being warmed up by folk punk troubadour, Frank Turner and his band, The Sleeping Souls.
After recently selling out a four night stint (Lost Evenings) at Camden’s, Roundhouse you’d be forgiven for wondering why he would choose to be anyone’s opening act considering his fan base has held strong for a number of years however, he seems to be one never to rest on his laurels as he pulled out all the stops to win over some new fans.
His set was in high gear from the get go as he and his band blew it up with the boisterous anthem, ‘Get Better’ with the fan favourite livewire, ‘Try This At Home’ and ‘The Next Storm’ but it wasn’t until Turner orchestrated a circle pit for the chaotic ‘Out of Breath’ that the fans really seemed to endear themselves to him.
A bounce and a sing a long to arguably Turner’s biggest mainstream hit ‘Recovery’ was followed by his acoustic solo song ‘Dan’s Song’ which some may question as a song choice in a setlist that had exuded so much energy. This isn’t Frank’s first rodeo and he had a trick up his sleeve however, as he invited an unsuspecting non-fan (Becky) on stage to play a harmonica solo which had everyone in hysterics as she nervously asked which side to blow on.
The pace was picked straight back up again with rousing folk songs ‘If Ever I Stray’, ‘I Still Believe’ and ‘Photosynthesis’ which culminated in a widespread sit down and jump back up routine that had the fans in the palm of his hands, finally finishing off with his customary crowd surf during ‘Four Simple Words’.
Turner and his band’s performance epitomized what every opening act should strive for, grab your chance by the scruff of the neck and show what you can do. It’s safe to say that after the set had finished there were many in the crowd making note to make sure to check these guys out in full as they felt they had clearly missed a beat.
As the anticipation for Blink to take the stage mounted rain began to pour as Manchester’s stereotypical drizzly weather came out in full force, combating this the band take the stage and hit the crowd with a straight adrenaline shot through ‘Feeling This’ and ‘The Rock Show’.
Any early fears that the logistics of moving the stage show to an outside venue would compromise the set were allayed as the LED boards lit up for each song with individual video graphics and bursts of flames for almost every note played, adding to the spectacle.
The crowd’s energy hits explosive levels as the first few notes of ‘What’s My Age Again?’ are played and everyone is transported back to their adolescence as they scream “……..the state looks down on Sodomy!” with ‘First Dates’ following there after and new song ‘Built This Pool’ completing the trifecta of hilarious but damn catchy songs.
It was inevitable that the band would introduce the audience to their latest material and album opener, ‘Cynical’ and the album’s lead single ‘Bored to Death’ were greeted with warm reactions as were ‘She’s Out of Her Mind’ which was introduced as a song dedicated to Mark Hoppus’ “crazy bitch, wife!” tongue firmly in cheek as he said it.
Skiba and drummer, Travis Barker are more subdued in their presence onstage but Skiba’s technically focused sound makes for better listening on tracks such as ‘Down’ and ‘Kings of The Weekend’ and Barker shining on a drum solo interlude of ‘Violence’ and adding an element of funk that you didn’t know was missing to ‘I Miss You’.
The set begins to wind down with hardcore fan favourite ‘Dysentery Gary’ while finishing off the main set with the gritty homage to the city of angels, ‘Los Angeles’. The encore was started with what many would consider the quintessential Blink song ‘All The Small Things’ which has everyone jumping back to a time of spiky hair, baggy jeans and backwards caps. Finishing off the set with the coming of age song ‘Dammit’ that was capped off with a burst of confetti that falls over the crowd long after the band depart the stage.
Blink 182 have always been a band of 3 personalities and although the days of over exaggerated vocals and dick jokes at live shows may be over, there’s still enough there for this band to continue on into their latest era. Hoppus still has a great show presence and can command a crowd with his comedic and energetic performances, Barker is the constant as he forever keeps the band sounding tight and plays with such ferocity like every gig could be his last, finally Skiba brings about a new focus and a more refined sound which has been lacking in recent years.