Recently one of my Facebook friends posted an article about the appropriate age when you should stop clubbing. In wider context the appropriate age when you should abandon the dance floor or concert hall for the benefit of early nights in with kids and pyjamas.
The magic age revealed by a new study which polled 5,000 Britons was 37. That is when you are “officially” too old for gigs and parties. So here I am, another night at the O2 Arena, excited as a teenage girl, ready to go and photograph the band I love. What’s my age again? 39, hitting 40 in April next year. Edyta K explores Blink-182.
Whilst I’m contemplating my age, I am disturbed by the buzzing mobile in my pocket. The number of private messages I’m getting cannot be a good sign, and it isn’t. Chester Bennington of Linkin Park was found dead in his residence earlier today. Initial police reports are pointing to suicide. I cannot get my head around it and for the moment it looks like a very inappropriate joke.
It is also 20th July, the day we should celebrate Chris Cornell’s birthday, and it still feels weird talking about him in past tense. And now this. One of his best friends, a Godfather to his son, is gone forever. Just a few weeks ago he played the same venue I’m standing in, and in just a few weeks he was scheduled to tour alongside the band I am waiting for.
It all feels so wrong and puts a long shadow just before the band is set to hit the stage. But as another great missed one once said “the show must go on” and so the well-oiled machine called Blink-182 rolled onto the arena.
Replacing a charismatic frontman is a challenge but can also be a chance to let the fresh air in. It worked pretty well for bands like Pink Floyd, Faith No More, AC/DC or Genesis to name just a few, but it has also killed some bands, turning them into what could best be described as a good cover band with few original members, something that happened to the iconic INXS. However, after Tom DeLonge’s departure, the remaining Blink-182 members (Mark Hoppus and Travis Baker) decided not to call it a day but continue with a tasty and fresh add-on of Alkaline Trio guitarist and lead singer, Matt Skiba.
The newly reformed band jump straight to the hit section starting their show with one of their most recognisable songs, Feel This, from released in 2003 self-titled album. From now on one thing becomes clear. They’re back, and they’re ready to conquer the world, or at least the London’s O2 Arena tonight.
The California native knows how to rule the crowd. Mark Hoppus and his incredibly loud flying bass (thank God for the earplugs) energetically, plays the audience like another one of his instruments. Soon they’re turning into one hard bouncing, crowd surfing, jolly singing human ball. Dedicating “This one’s for the ladies” comes another great hit. I Miss You, which causes severe body swinging and a massive sing along. The UK is a home of Oasis as Mark pointed, and we know how to sing out loud.
The band is setting the bar high and the audience is still on fire like the F-Word flaming behind the bands back. The concept of the evening consists of a well-known formula: play some hits, play some new songs, play some more hits. It works pretty well as the pop punk veterans sell their latest child, released in 2016, the album California. The songs Cynical, Bored To Death, Build This Pool, and She’s Out Of Her Mind encourage more loud singing and crowd surfing until the band closes the first part of the show with another new song, Los Angeles.
After, what seems to be an eternity of an encore break, they’re back and with their biggest hit All The Small Things. As if it couldn’t get any better, they shoot another anthem Dammit. Matt Skiba barely speaks a word or engages with the audience, but as a band, they’re a joy to watch and listen to. The one who keeps things together is the drummer Travis Baker.
Possibly one of the best drummers I have had the pleasure to see. He drums wildly as if his life depends on every beat. And even now, with Blink-182 turning more into rock than punk, he still grounds it down to the original punk roots. His breathtaking drum solo closed one of the wildest nights I have ever witnessed at the O2 Arena. Sweaty and with a sore throat from excessive screaming and ringing in my ears despite earplugs, I continue to ask myself, what’s my age again?
Photography and Review by Edyta K Blink-182 @ London O2 Arena, 20th July 2017.