Gig Review; Blink 182, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle.
IT was 2004 when Californian punks Blink 182 last made it to Newcastle's Metro Radio Arena.
Anticipation built, I remember climbing the steps up to the Arena's entrance, sporting my freshly shaven Travis Barker-esque mohican, excited to see one of my favourite bands live in concert.
Eight years on, that excitement hit me once again as I entered the foyer, caught the buzz of the music and that redolent scent of frying doughnuts. It was like being 15 again.
When I arrived, opening act Twin Atlantic were just getting underway. With the floor barely at half capacity, the Scottish pop rockers managed to serve as a great warm up, delivering powerful anthemic songs with epic choruses. Twin Atlantic's fan base is growing rapidly, so expect even bigger things from them in the near future.
Up next were The All-American Rejects.
Opening with the catchy single, Dirty Little Secret, my expectations of the band began to be fulfilled.
However, when lead singer and bassist Tyson Ritter delegated his bass playing duties to another member of the band, that initial excitement was lost and the performance seemed to focus solely on Ritter. Despite attempting to exude an energetic on stage persona, Ritter failed to engage; the crowd remained fairly unresponsive throughout, waking up momentarily for the singles: Move Along, Swing Swing, and the mainstream-breaking hit Gives You Hell.
In spite of the band's tight live performance, the new AAR material just doesn't live up to the standard of their earlier tracks.
Nevertheless, I, like most people, was there to see Blink 182. While their 2011 release, Neighborhoods, is a departure from the simplistic riffs and juvenile lyrics of many of the tracks on their earlier albums, Blink's latest offering reflects the musical maturity that the band has developed over the years.
Starting with the classic opener, Feeling This, Blink 182 plunged into a smorgasbord of tracks from their discography, not wanting to disappoint the large percentage of the audience who will have followed them throughout their career.
Surprisingly, despite the band's style change, the mix of old and new gelled well. Fan favourites like All The Small Things, First Date, Dammit were all present and correct, but the Newcastle crowd were also treated to an intimate performance of Reckless Abandon and the rarely played track Waggy, as Mark and Tom appeared on a tiny stage by the sound desk.
A special mention must be given to the Samson of the skins, drummer Travis Barker who was exceptional throughout and impossible not to watch in his solo piece, Can A Drummer Get Some.
The only downside for me was that the audience weren't as enthused as I remember them being at previous Blink shows. Although I can't quite manage to run around like I did as a teen, the lack of activity from the crowd felt like an injustice to the band, in light of the stellar performance that they gave.