Now, don’t get me wrong: I liked Blink 182 live. I thought they played very well, they had stage presence, they pleased the crowd. It was, to all intents and purposes, a successful performance. But I had a problem with it, and it’s a problem that stretches to almost all of the concerts I’ve been to this year, and it’s getting worse.
You see, doors opened from around 7pm. First one support act came, then another. Wonderful opportunities for the record companies to showcase their new hopes (indeed, second support act Kinison were a huge hit with the audience: would Blink be able to match them?). Not a bad thing, then, but not what the audience had paid over 20 each to see.
After these two supports intermingled with various stage resettings, Blink 182 commenced their set. As is always the case these days, they played their main set, then ambled off. Another short wait… followed by two final songs in a surprise encore (it was so unsurprising and methodical that at the end of their main set, frontman Mark Hopper told the audience: “This is our last song… and then we’ll come back and play two more”).
Only last year American guitarist Pat Metheney played to a packed Royal Albert Hall for three and a half hours without an interval. Indeed, returning ‘oldies’ such as Elton John and Eric Clapton play long sets and advertise proudly that they’ll be ‘on stage 8pm, no support!’. So is this because their audiences don’t want to hear anything new? Or don’t want to stand around for two hours while slowly drinking more and getting into fights? In any case, Blink 182 were formed over 10 years ago so it’s not from a lack of material in their back catalogue.
The three band members are all obviously very talented. Even though a friend of mine told me that in smaller venues they were sometimes out of tune, they weren’t tonight, and in a forced but funny finale Mark Hopper tried his best to go from bass, to guitar, to drums. Talking about drums, crazed (and multi-tattooed) drummer Travis is quite a sight to behold. He has a trememdous grasp of rhythmic nuance, and produces the energy thrust behind the entire band’s performance.
They treated their audience to a set of both old material, including their huge hit ‘All The Small Things’, and songs from their new album, the self-titled ‘blink-182′, which lacked the extra instruments used in the album and had to rely on a pre-recorded piano sound to reproduce live.
It is pretty much universally agreed that this latest album is their most coherent and well written one yet, with critics pouring adulation over their evolving maturity as a band. If they had matched this with a respect for the maturity of their audience, then they might have been brilliant.