Review: Blink 182 play a career spanning set at the Barclaycard Arena

  • The Barclaycard Arena was full to capacity on July 7th
  • Blink-182 performed a career-spanning set accompanied by pyrotechnics and smoke machines
  • Support acts, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls and The Front Bottoms were well received by the eager crowd.

Opening were The Front Bottoms, bringing slacker indie-rock all the way from New Jersey. With the stage kitted out with their now-trademark leather sofa, they launched into 2013’s ‘Skeleton’ for the expectant crowd.

The Front Bottoms

Their punchy anthems make the perfect warm up for the evening ahead. Brian Sella’s distinctive emo-influenced vocals craft fan-favourites like ‘The Plan (Fuck Jobs)’ and ‘Wolfman’, with the same strangled dejection that you hear on record.

The Front Bottoms

The guys go on to lead the arena in a sing-a-long to ‘Au Revoir (Adios)’. They close their set with a reflective rendition of ‘Twin Size Mattress’, another staple from their 2013 album, Talon of the Hawk.

The Front Bottoms

At this sort of show it can often be a challenge for support acts to win the hearts and minds of an impatient audience, but the Front Bottoms managed tonight.

Frank Turner And The Sleeping Souls

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls‘ banner unfurled and the band took to the stage to cheers before kicking of with ‘Get Better’, a folk punk anthem if ever there was one. Turner seems overjoyed to be there, grinning his way through 2010’s ‘Try This at Home’ before announcing that this is his ”two-thousand-and-something” show.

Frank Turner And The Sleeping Souls

If he’s weary of the live scene it certainly doesn’t show. Climbing on the monitors to instigate a circle pit, Turner is a man in his element. His joy is visibly shared by guitarist and mandolinist, Ben Lloyd, who skips and twirls around the stage with glee, at one point engaging in a slow dance with Turner. Turner announces to the crowd that he’s going to be joined on stage by a young man who won a competition, at which point Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio fame (and more importantly tonight, Blink-182) struts on stage. Turner briefs Skiba on how and when to play the harmonica before introducing Dan’s Song, a forlorn punk ballad to summers gone by. Half way through he leans away from the mic to shout “go!” at Skiba, who wails away on the harmonica for a bit before disappearing backstage once more. It doesn’t bode well for the Blink-182 set.

Frank Turner And The Sleeping Souls

Turner rounds off the set with some crowd-surfing and a blazing performance of ‘Four Simple Words’ from 2013’s, Tape Deck Heart. No one’s quite ready for Turner and the Sleeping Souls to leave the stage, but it’s time for the headline act.

Blink 182

The crowd cheers as a union flag featuring the bands smiley logo is hung above the stage. After a hot, sweaty wait, the banner drops to reveal Blink-182, surrounded by pyrotechnics and screens. The droning riff of ‘Feeling This’ fills the arena and the crowd surges forward. Straight into ‘Rock Show’, accompanied by a slide show of early gig posters on the screens, the band are clearly trying to evoke the spirit of the early stages of their career.

Blink 182

Mark Hoppus toys with the crowd, miming along to ‘First Date’ to the extent that it’s clear how little he has to actually play. This is a man who has had huge success as a pop-punk musician and who’s not ashamed to show how simple his songs are. Barker, on the other hand, is a machine. Shining with sweat and intensely focused, he drums out each high speed, iconic track without missing a beat. It’s easy to see why they chose to seat him on an elevated podium, surrounded by cameras.

Blink 182

Hoppus introduces ‘I Miss You’ by saying, “this one goes out from Travis to all the ladies in the house”. A huge sing-a-long ensues, with everyone in the arena asserting that, “we can live like Jack and Sally if we want.” Skiba seems reserved, leaving the bulk of the crowd banter to Hoppus. As the set progresses, a pattern emerges; the band trot out one of the hits like ‘What’s My Age Again’ and immediately the audience fills with camera phones trying to capture the perfect grainy footage for their snapchat stories. Then newer tracks like ‘She’s Out of Her Mind’, from 2016’s California get a more restrained response.

Blink 182

Blink-182 play a fairly straight set, and at times their formulaic performance lulls a little. The crowd don’t seem to mind, but then it’s not hard to impress someone who turned up with your band’s logo already tattooed on their upper bicep.

Blink 182

Towards the end of the show things heat up a bit, with the band performing ‘Happy Holidays, You Bastard’, entirely light by the torches on audience members phones. An encore of ‘All The Small Things’ soundtracks the camera operators search for any audience members who’ve scrambled onto their friends shoulders. Multiple women (and one man) take the opportunity to remove their shirts, but the hero of the hour is the woman who had the foresight to bring a large sign reading “TRAVIS I’M PREGNANT”. The highlight of the whole show, surprisingly, is the drum solo: Barker disappears behind a cloud of smoke to be replaced by his thirteen-year-old son, Landon. Joined on stage by Hoppus wearing a Yoshi mask, Landon Barker plays out the gig with an impressive piece of drumming, and in this reviewers opinion gives the most refreshing performance of the otherwise gimmicky set.

Photography by Edward Taylor

Emily Doyle

Student, bassist, and graphic designer. Always wearing headphones, probably listening to Youth Man, Nick Drake, or the Beastie Boys.
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Emily Doyle

Student, bassist, and graphic designer. Always wearing headphones, probably listening to Youth Man, Nick Drake, or the Beastie Boys.

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