“Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, tits, fart, turd and twat” booms forth from the O2 stage this evening in a chant that retains all the eloquence of a teenager getting sick in a bag. It’s a chorus that could only really come from California punk rockers Blink-182, and one that shoves an ageing middle finger in the face of anyone who dares to wonder whether the trio have matured at all. Pushing forty and still showboating ridiculously adolescent antics is a feat that’s quiet impressive in its own right. There’s a weird kind of dedication behind this behaviour that’s often lost when a band reaches a certain age. So when bassist Mark Hoppus and guitarist Tom DeLonge continue to talk about 69ing, vulvas and loose condoms abandoned in each other’s mothers it’s surprisingly refreshing to hear.
After puling out of Oxegen last year, many Irish fans were anxious to hear material from 2011 album Neighborhoods, their first LP in eight years. Since their O2 gig in 2010 it seems fair that they didn’t return without new songs to flaunt. The fans are certainly owed some contemporary music at this point. Unfortunately it’s the new stuff that failed to hit the marker – album high points ‘Ghost on the Dance Floor’ and ‘After Midnight’ were played with very little conviction. Even the single, ‘Up All Night’ with it’s monster metal riff, seemed merely rehearsed out of necessity. It’s only when they open the vault to tracks like ‘Josie’ and ‘All the Small Things’ that they really start to shine. Undeniably, Blink-182 are riding a ’90s nostalgia wave so it’s no surprise that reverting back to their formative years reveals the most entertaining parts of the performance. Easy to swallow punk rock nuggets are what they do best.
No one has misconceptions as to the quality of Blink-182’s melodies – they’re fast, simple three chord punchy riffs with no real frills to speak of. Effective and uncomplicated, which is just what the crowd wants. Yet behind these ungarnished sounds is the rhythmic panache of drummer Travis Barker. Often exploding into a flurry of flailing arms, he drums with a terminal intensity that drives the whole show. Indeed, without him the gig would be mediocre at best. A fact that seems obvious even to the rest of the band, seeing as the encore begins with a five minute onslaught of a drum solo cut with hip hop samples and James Brown inspired “give the drummer some” vocals. At this point Travis almost takes on the guise of a cartoon octopus, his two arms appearing to be doing the work of eight. As the solo’s tempo slows down there’s a slick swerve into ‘Carousel’ where Mark and Tom return to the stage. All that’s left then is to hammer out ‘Dammit’ and ‘Family Reunion’ amidst a ceremonious explosion of confetti that rains down on the many grateful faces, thankful that the band have reconnected with their past – if not their future.
Photos by Paulo Gonçalves