REVIEW – Blink 182 at Metroradio Arena, Newcastle 9/07/17
For fans of Blink 182 in the North East, it’s been a very long 5 years since they graced our shores at the Arena with Scottish lads, Twin Atlantic and Tom DeLonge in tow. So it’s hardly surprising that the standing area of the gig sold out instantly after word spread they were coming back to the UK to promote their brand new album, California.
Now fast forward to 2017 where Tom has left the band and has been named ‘UFO Researcher of the Year,’ and Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba has stepped up to the plate as vocalist and guitarist of the band, and recorded on the band’s new album. It was always going to be a controversial spot to fill for fans, but these shows were his way of proving he is here to stay.
Opening up for the band were New Jersey cult favourites, The Front Bottoms, opening with ‘Skeleton’ to a packed out arena crowd. They ended with songs ‘The Beer’ and ‘Twin Size Mattress,’ before doing a shout out to the headliners.
Up next was support slot regular, (his own words!) Frank Turner, who was joined on stage with his backing band of Sleeping Souls. A very, merry, happy man armed with his eclectic range of punk and folk songs whose first words to the crowd were ‘Will you guys be my friends?!’ Of course we will, Frank! Although there were mixed words from those attending about Frank supporting on the event pages for the gig, he’d had them all under his spell by a few songs in, playing crowd favourites such as ‘Get Better’ and ‘Recovery,’ followed by some questionable, drunken sing-a-longs.
During his set, Frank took the time to do a shout out to Safe Gigs For Women, which aim to make gigs a safer place for women from crowds and bands themselves, to be free from harassment and abuse. ‘It’s the 21st Century, and we still have to deal with this. How is this right in this day and age?’ Frank says to the crowd. Followed by a long applause for the company, he thanks everyone for listening in to what he had to say on an important issue in the music industry. (For more information, visit: http://sgfw.org.uk/)
‘Dan’s Song’ saw Frank joined on stage by songwriter, Will Varley, who according to Frank, had travelled all the way up from Kent JUST to come to the Newcastle show – what a guy! Not one to make a bad first impression, Will played a harmonica solo (yes, a harmonica solo!) and absolutely nailed it. Hopefully the 8 hour journey was worth it all round! Throughout the 45 minute set, Frank proved to the people of the North East that he deserved this slot alongside the punk pop giants, playing his 2076th show (the setlist NEVER lies). He ended on ‘Four Simple Words,’ where he decided to launch himself into the crowd and trusted them to carry him throughout the entire song; apart from one moment where he disappeared down (followed by ‘ooooh’s from the crowd!) but recovered from it.
After making his way back to the stage, looking a bit more roughed up than usual from the crowd, he thanked us all, saying he had ‘definitely made a few new friends tonight.’ As someone who has never seen Frank live before, I was converted! Such a massive mix of happiness, energy, and pure emotion from his songs and seriously an all round nice guy, if you ever get the chance to see him live, please do – you won’t regret it!
With Frank saying his goodbyes, the crowd were anxious waiting for the main event. Premature cheers erupted when Blink decided to tease the crowd:
As the room goes black, a familiar tune in the Stranger Things opening theme fills the room, as the crowd is full of anticipation. I did mention it had been a long time since their last visit, and you can tell the crowd have been waiting so long for this.
Kicking off the show with the opening chords of ‘Feeling This,’ and straight into 2001 classic ‘The Rock Show,’ the crowd show the band just how a North East crowd parties!
The band sounded incredible, and had the crowd questioning, ‘line up change? what change?.’ Matt filled the shoes of Tom perfectly, his voice suiting every single song, from good old oldies such as ‘What’s My Age Again?’ and ‘First Date.’ If you’d watched the gig with your eyes closed, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference – apart from Matt was singing with similar emotion for emo classic, ‘I Miss You.’ I also hope no-one did watch the gig eyes closed, as the graphics on in the background and the pyrotechnics had everyone ‘ooohing’ and ‘aahing’ like they were at a fireworks display.
Playing a mixture of songs to keep old and new fans happy, they played songs from California to the same response as the classics, such as ‘Bored To Death,’ ‘She’s Out of Her Mind,’ ‘Kings of the Weekend’ and ‘Los Angeles.’
Blink 182 have been a band since 1992 (when I was born!!) and still going strong 25 years later – they’ve proved here tonight that even losing an original member won’t stop them from releasing awesome songs that their fanbase can get behind. Their new album has been very well received and introduced many new fans to the band and the genre. The age ranges at the gig tonight range from young teenagers to those around my age who got into the band as teenagers, to those older who grew up with Take Off Your Pants And Jacket and Enema Of The State.
And as veterans of the touring scene, you can bet they’ve saved the best til last. As the opening tune of ‘All The Small Things’ echoes around the arena for the encore, it’s one of the songs the crowd have been waiting so patiently for. The band themselves even stop for a moment and let the crowd sing the whole chorus, in awe at the dedication of their own fans.
Finishing up with a speech from the man himself, Mark Hoppus, he thanked the crowd and told us that they would return. They finished off the show with ‘Brohemian Rhapsody,’ and finally with ‘Dammit,’ where Hoppus paraded round the stage in headgear which looked a lot like Olaf from Frozen – Travis let his son, Landon Barker, end the show with an incredible drum solo from a child of only 13, who seemed at home in front of a massive crowd.
It was my first time seeing Blink live, and as a kid who grew up with them, it was amazing to finally catch them live. They are not showing any signs of stopping any time soon, either, so if you ever get the chance, GO SEE THEM. Don’t sell your ticket like I did in 2012 – life lesson of the day, kids.