LIVE: blink-182 @ O2 Academy, Brixton

By Ben Tipple

Dick jokes. Love them or hate them, when they are uttered by middle aged men about to jump into a rendition of the swear-filled ‘Family Reunion’, something doesn’t quite sit right.

See, the thing is that blink-182 are no longer the band they used to be. Although age undoubtedly plays its part in this, it’s not simply because they have got older. Mark, Tom and Travis (surnames unnecessary) have evolved musically, as well as in appearance.

Moving from their pop-punk-before-pop-punk ‘Buddha’/’Cheshire Cat’ days through to the emergence of their newer sound on their 2004 self-titled, via sodomised dogs and falling in love at rock shows, blink-182 have split the crowd. If anything, tonight is a testament to that divide.

Older material is greeted by the biggest cheer, although by no means performed to the same quality as the likes of ‘Dogs Eating Dogs’ or ‘Ghost on the Dancefloor’ from the band’s most recent efforts. Tom DeLonge in particular uses various opportunities to showcase his progressive Angels and Airwaves vocals, seemingly himself more interested in this newer style than that of old.


It’s an interesting juxtaposition, yet one that has no resolution. ‘Neighborhoods’ has its fans, and they are out in force tonight. They might be drowned out by the screams that fill the Academy as ‘Dumpweed’, ‘First Date’ or ‘Carousel’ emanate from the stage, but it’s impossible to deny that if you’re judging blink-182 entirely on their on-stage performance, the neighbours have the upper hand.

Whether you leave the venue commenting on the band’s musical prowess, or on the nostalgia enjoyed – or possibly on both, although this is seemingly rare – you’re not wrong, either way.

At least tonight, blink-182 have done the only thing they can do. They have played the songs people want to hear, and ultimately provided a soundtrack to south London’s biggest party. Their older material may sit at odds with the new, but this is the inevitable result of their musical direction.

The occasional mistake can largely be forgiven for a band who, at least initially, have built their reputation on fun. Most importantly, for the vast majority of punters, that’s just what they had – dick jokes or no dick jokes.