by / September 1st, 2010 /

Blink 182 – The O2, Dublin

“We love Jedward,” Blink 182 announce to a chorus of boos, “you would too if you’d ever had them sit on your face and slowly spread their ass cheeks…” Clearly, after all these years, if there’s one thing you can still expect from Blink 182, it’s downright immaturity. They might have taken a slight right turn in the direction of heartfelt emo-rock with their sel- titled pre-split album, but tonight’s set – their first in Dublin since right before the break up, which they sarcastically blame on the crowd – is still as much about having a good laugh as the band’s infamous three-chord brand of pop-punk.

Musical purists might laugh heartily at Blink 182 in a slightly less kind way. There’s no doubting that an inherent simplicity plays a big role in what they produce, but it’s also a large part of the appeal. The older – and still simpler – tracks are all on display tonight, with the likes of ‘What’s My Age Again’, ‘Reckless Abandon’, ‘All The Small Things’ and ‘Stay Together For The Kids’ more notable for their energy and amusing lyric changes than any great musical quality. It’s an energy, though, which carries this band. In fairness, having not released an album since 2003 (they recently promised a new one is on the way), most of their music is a bit dated these days, yet while it might be simple, it sticks in the mind in a way many more sophisticated melodies can’t quite pull off. The poorer very early material from the likes of ‘Buddha’, fortunately, seems to be a thing of the past.

The 21st century is an age in which rock music has pushed forward onto a more complex level. Loops, keyboards, and complex electronic backing mixes are practically a trademark of the genre these days, and Blink’s appeal lies largely in their ability to take the style back to its fun-loving, slightly silly roots. The showmanship here is bizarre at times, but also occasionally reminiscent of the ludicrous rock and roll extravagances of old. As an encore, for example, Travis Barker drums along to a hip-hop track whilst being slowly rotated through a fully upside down position. Three chords are just perfect for moshing along to, and in the slightly newer material, such as the likes of ‘I Miss You’, Blink have discovered a second, slower gear, one that – while it still hardly breaks any songwriting barriers – adds a layer of meaning that they previously lacked.

What’s clear from tonight is that Blink still have a mammoth fan base. Fresh from headlining the Leeds and Reading festivals over in the UK, they’ve sold the night out comfortably, and take the easy cheers along with the harder-earnt ones (“you’re so much better than the British, just don’t tell them we said that”). Almost every song brings with it incessant, shirtless leaping not just down the front, but down the back and amongst the seating, too.

Aside from exposure, there’s little to divide lesser-known tracks like ‘Always’ and ‘Don’t Leave Me’ from the smash singles: Blink 182 are regularly able to stop their vocal performance altogether and let the audience loudly fill in the various vocals. The stage presence is something they have developed substantially over time: today, they’ve given up the huge flaming ‘fuck’ sign that used to grace their backdrop, replacing it with porthole screens, a dramatic entre involving a dropping curtain and a huge confetti shower accompanying the closing song. For a three-piece, they fill the stage remarkably well.

Sure, being a Blink 182 fan might still be a domain largely populated by sweaty, bouncing teenagers and post-teenage fans highly amused by the spontaneous insertion of swear words into sentences, but this was never about sophistication. What it is about is energy, infectiousness and an ability to perform in a way that ceaselessly entertains, if in an invariably child-like way. In other words, it’s entirely unpretentious, laugh-a-minute fun, and who doesn’t enjoy that?

Photos by Kieran Frost

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  • David C

    I did not enjoy this piece. The writer obviously knows nothing about the band only that they are potty mouthed and are “immature”. This is an attribute in which lets one let go for an hour and a half. “Wreckless Abandon”? It’s “Reckless Abandon” and this is a track which wasn’t released as a single thus making this one of the lesser known tracks. “Always” was the third last song released of the self-titled album making this a very well known track, a track which was only played once live prior to the reunion tour in the United States last summer only making this one of the biggest hits of the nights as many would never have seen this performed. I’m presuming you were actually there so maybe take a look around the arena before making such comments. How do you have to break songwriting barriers to make a good song I must ask? Does there have to be a ten minute mad solo for it to break songwriting barriers? If you have ever seen Blink 182 live before (even on youtube) you will know that they don’t usually get the crowd to fill in the vocals. This I thought was strange myself at Dublin but it was very enjoyable to take part in the answer and reply!

    Reading my reply to this piece I do feel it seems like I fine combed your piece and being a Blink fan since the album “Dude Ranch” my comments seem very biased but I do honestly feel you went to the show, not with an open mind, and surfed the web for the bits you didn’t know. I did enjoy your final paragraph which was spot on in terms of the energy and sophistication.

  • I feel there’s nothing to answer there David apart from a spelling error, and that you’re a fan and I’m not, anymore anyway. I loved them ten years ago, but hey, people change. For the record, this piece was written entirely without any internet access whatsoever, as I had a power cut yesterday, so (and I actually find this a little embarrassing, but hey, I used to be fan) nothing was checked online at all. Probably why it’s got ‘wreckless’ in there.

    I enjoyed the show, but I still think they’re more comedy than great music. I have seen them before, at Reading Festival a few years back (thought you might have got that from the ‘flaming fuck’ reference). I know more than enough about them to write a review, and I didnt go with an agenda, I just knew what to expect. If they’d surprised me I’d certainly have written something different. But hey, each to their own. I think they’re very predictable but still entertaining. You’re welcome to disagree.

  • Pádraig

    I was at the show myself. The build-up was pretty cool, and the support act did very well. I was up towards the front, but it was unbearable, maybe i’m just not used to the heat of an indoor gig, though i’ve been to one before…
    I must have been unlucky with where I was, but the people around me were ignorant assholes, even when I moved back further from the stage! Was really looking forward to seeing Blink so I was kind of let down. I’ve been to loads of gigs, so I know well what the crowd can be like, which I don’t mind, but this crowd in particular were just not nice. Now I DON’T mean every single person, just everyone I approached. Pretty good band, I’m not knocking blink at all, just the shitheads around me. I wish they’d just fuck off and die 🙂

  • Marky

    I have to say James I was not at the gig but reading your review I’m not surprised by your comments below in answer to David Cs comment in saying that you think they’re very predictable but entertaining!! I seem to remember you writing a similar comment about a Band not a million miles away from Blink 182 who also played these shores this summer…always entertaining but always the same!!! ring any bells??? I have seen Blink 182 the last time they played the point( now 02 Arena) and agree that a good deal of comedy and goofing around does fill their set though the good music more than compensates….It seems to me, you having been a former fan of Blink 182 you obviously have discovered “music” that is more fulfilling and seem to now look down on such acts as predictable bubblegum rock!! To me your reviews of such bands are always the same and not very entertaining!!!

  • I assume you’re referring to Green Day Marky, it’s the only one I can think of that I’ve written something like that about, though you best check again, I didnt even write that review, I just commented on it. You follow my writing extremely closely for someone who doesnt find it entertaining, so thankyou for that.

    As for my answer to David… I quoted Blink as the very first words in my article and he decided to question if I was at the gig.. The quote was hardly a generic statement, so he should have known the answer to that before he finished reading the first line. There are plenty of details in there, too, so forgive me if it wasnt the kindest reply, but it was probably a more sensible one that the comment deserved.

    I wrote a review that I thought was honest and I didnt for one second expect a Blink 182 fan to entirely agree with (though I know a lot of State reviewers who would have been far, far harsher). If it bothered me that people disagree, I wouldnt write about music, as no one is ever going to agree with everything you write. Disagree, call my writing boring, whatever you like… it’s an honest opinion, I dont for one second think it’s any more important than anyone elses but unless you have a comment which is something other than strangely personal pettiness about differing opinions on music you can argue with yourself.

  • Demot O’Raw

    I’m 50, so not exactly a sweaty bouncing teenager but love blink-182 and would put last weeks gig in my top 3 all-time alongside Roger Waters in The Point and Rammstein at The Wuhlheide in Berlin. Your reviewer should just have looked around and seen the happiness and good spirit engendered by the band to see what a success the night was, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

  • Quote Padraig (comment 3):

    ‘I’ve been to loads of gigs, so I know well what the crowd can be like, which I don’t mind, but this crowd in particular were just not nice. Now I DON’T mean every single person, just everyone I approached. Pretty good band, I’m not knocking blink at all, just the shitheads around me. I wish they’d just fuck off and die’

    Quote Dermot (comment 6):

    ‘Your reviewer should just have looked around and seen the happiness and good spirit engendered by the band to see what a success the night was, and isn’t that what it’s all about?’

    Perspective, people. Jaysus. It’s not hard to see how they can be very, very different.

  • nisa

    yang enakan dikit ceritanya