“Good things come to those who wait” Yes, indeed.
In the latter half of 2010, there was a mass scramble for tickets to see Blink 182’s return to the UK Arenas, a European Tour scheduled for the summer of 2011.
Unfortunately, due to delays recording recent album, Neighborhoods, Blink postponed the tour and rescheduled for the summer of 2012. A few fans grumbled, personally however, I could not fault Tom, Mark & Travis’ commitment to record a new album and tour with new material. Too many bands that have re-united live on past glories. This is not in Blink’s nature.
Prior to this show, I last saw Blink 182 in this very venue, approximately 8 years ago. It was their last full tour before they announced their indefinite hiatus and the tour where Mark & Travis laid the foundations for +44.
We have since learned these were very dark times for Blink 182, not that you could tell at the time. The band appeared to perform with the usual swagger and cohesion, if lacking some of the banter they are renowned for.
Fast forward to 2012 and the audience at the MEN Arena are clearly anxious to see the trio. Support acts, Scottish rockers Twin Atlantic and the radio-friendly All American Rejects provided some great moments and were a nod to the future of British rock and the experienced American pop punk scene respectively.
So the wait was finally over…the curtain literally dropped and we were presented with three gentleman grinning like ‘Cheshire Cats’ as they exploded into 2003 hit, Feeling This. The arena shook as every torso in the place bounced with synchronicity and continued into Up All Night.
Blink have rarely been noted for being an amazing live band but after a few songs in, this was surely the tightest they have sounded for pretty much forever. Whats My Age Again? and Dumpweed soon followed and did not sound at all out of place when integrated with recent hits such as After Midnight and I Miss You.
It also has to be pointed out that, Tom Delonge can sing, and can do it really well. The singer has been criticised in the past for lazy sounding vocals but tonight, he proved any doubters completely wrong.
Mark Hoppus certainly stole the show though; on his home turf he was eager to wind Tom up at every given opportunity. Mark also willingly used Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’ lyrics to end not 1 but 2 of their own songs. Sarcasm has never sounded so good!
Travis was encouraged into a short drum solo, displaying his astonishing talent, leading into Violence. This was echoed by Marks bass solo leading into the fan favourite Man Overboard.
At one point we almost heard from Travis’ young daughter, Alabama, who was sat next to her dad in full view of everybody playing with some of the equipment. Wearing bright pink headphones to protect her from her fathers beating of the drum, Mark invited her to say hello to us all but she shyly refused.
Blink did seem hellbent on cramming every hit into their set which was more than welcome and still left room for a personal favourite. Wishing Well is the epitome of a great modern pop punk song and was a highlight for sure. Throughout the set we were treated to a great lights show with constantly changing graphics behind the band and two giant screens either side which were hooked up to cameras on stage, which gave us a view from the stacked amps and Travis’ bass drum.
As Blink left the stage, we expected the traditional encore, however Blink don’t do traditional. The rear of the MEN Arena roared with delight as Mark and Tom appeared from the darkness, stood in the sound tech area with with an acoustic bass and guitar.
They chugged through Reckless Abandon and even chanced an oldie in the form of Wasting Time. Mark noted they hadn’t played that song live for about 15years, but they absolutely nailed it.
The lights went out again as they made their way back to the main stage and we were treated to a Travis Barker solo mash up of freestyle and exerts from his own album, Give The Drummer Some. This again was a definite highlight and surely Barker has to be one of the all time great drummers. The pace he can play at is incredible and he fuses many different styles into his work.
The threesome regrouped and thrashed through Carousel before the now predictable closer, Dammit. As the last note rang out though, they officially ended the night with Family Reunion to the delight of the Manchester crowd. As the ticker tape fell to the ground and Mark EVENTUALLY left the stage to a massive cheer, the crowd could only then reflect on probably one of the most satisfying pop punk concerts they could have attended.
They used to make music together and they decided to play music together once again. To put it simply, Blink 182 is back.