I’ll be straightforward: I had zero expectations about the Californian trio I have grown up with and loved far more than a decade ago. Thank God I didn’t, because it would be much more difficult, at this point, to bring up memories and describe that bitter taste of disappointment I still have in my mouth. Anyway, I was looking forward to seeing Blink’s Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus, plus Matt Skiba on stage. I was – despite the departure of Mr Tom DeLonge – because I had never seen Blink-182 live before, and due to that natural attraction I feel for what the past was and inevitably will never be again (call me romantic). With some exceptions, of course, that unfortunately didn’t happen to be at The O2 on a Wednesday night, mid-July.
Blink-182 have been a trademark for a generation, like it or not. They were young, rude, and terribly good at playing simple tunes that made you jump and want to be in the middle of a sweaty mosh-pit. They were, past tense, and that’s the most painful thing to admit, a couple of days after one of the less enjoyable gigs I have been to in months, if not years.
I almost completely ignored their last LP ‘California’, so I didn’t pay much attention on those tracks taken from the last album. Blink-182 could still be good at playing those timeless hits that made their fortune back in the late 90’s or early 2000’s. ‘Down’, ‘Feeling This’, ‘The Rock Show’, even ‘What’s My Age Again’, are a bit dusty, perhaps lower-key, but they can do the job. What I totally didn’t get is how a band like them could be less engaging than that; two voices alternating on stage, no connection whatsoever with their fans, a bunch of silly and inappropriate jokes. Like Hoppus saying: “It’s good to be back in London, how’s the football going, how’s the great Chelsea FC doing? Yeah, you can boo me, but who’s got the title?”. As any of us could care less, honestly. Not to mention the oddly long time before the end of the first part of the set and the encore. I took a few good seconds to realise that was ‘All The Small Things’… Sigh.
Finally, Matt Skiba. Alkaline Trio’s frontman was one of the voices I appreciated the most in my teenage. That’s his right fit, full stop. He’s a good singer, less scruffy than Tom used to be in his band, but hey, isn’t that “I don’t give a f***” attitude the real thing in a punk rock band?
It could have been much worse, after all, if it wasn’t for The Front Bottoms and Frank Turner as opening acts. Honest emotional rock outfit from New Jersey, the first; fun-as-hell songwriter with his band, the second. They made my night with engaging, catchy and direct tunes that warmed me up making me feel happy. Turner summoned a fan on stage to play an hilarious harmonica solo in one of his tracks, right before a brilliant moment of crowd-surfing. He also made a joke: “You know guys, thank you for coming down to see us. We are nice guys, and we will let another band – Blink-182 – play after us. You should stay for a couple of songs at least…”.
We laughed, I laughed, I am not sure I would take it as a joke, right now. What’s my age again?