LIVE: blink-182 @ Pryzm, Kingston Upon Thames

By Adam Rosario

Being heralded as the ‘Godfather’ of a genre can have its detriments. In the late nineties and early twenties, blink-182 were in the running for being the biggest band in the world. When ‘Enema of the State’ and ‘Take Off Your Pants & Jacket’ were released, they were in constant rotation on MTV, and radio stations couldn’t help but play the singles – flash forward to 2019 and the band have been through changes, yet are still captivating, even in an unusual setting such as this.

Pryzm is a nightclub in Kingston that has recently begun to host one-off shows, and tonight Blink-182 are in town to play two very intimate acoustic sets to celebrate the release of new album ‘NINE’, with Mark Hoppus and Matt Skiba leading the crowd through singalongs galore – a very different way to spend a Friday night. Opening on ‘Darkside’, the audience is entranced from the first note, and while Hoppus has had a chequered history when performing live – having been under the weather a lot – tonight he sounds pitch perfect, whilst Skiba perfectly compliments the lower tones of his band mate. 

The set leans very heavily on the newer material, with ‘Cynical’ leading into a mesmeric ‘Bored to Death’ – a highlight of the entire set. Throughout the show, the crowd sound as loud as the band, the lyrics being shouted back through every song. The older material gets the biggest reaction though, and blink-182 have fine tuned these songs to sound as vibrant acoustically as they do when played in full. ‘Down’ still rumbles through the speakers, with Hoppus’ chorus being especially chilling and ‘I Miss You’ sounding somehow even more haunting acoustically, with the pain of the lyrics being emphasised with the quieter guitars, packing a hefty emotional punch. 

The crowd plays their part throughout, with some questions that are randomly thrown out answered. Hoppus replies that blink-182 will be back sometime next year, and after a highly charged ‘I Really Wish I Hated You’ an audience member asks if the song is about former singer Tom DeLonge. Hoppus, quick witted as always, shuts down the fan, saying that it’s definitely not about DeLonge and that it is, in fact, a beautiful love song, whilst Skiba laughs in the background. The surprise of the night comes in the form of a cover of Post Malone’s ‘A Thousand Bad Times’, which could easily have passed as a blink-182 original, the ease with which they apply the pop-punk treatment really highlighting the talent this band possesses. 

The finale comes in the form of one of the band’s biggest songs, ‘All The Small Things’, which would’ve had the biggest singalong of the night bar none had they not then launched into ‘Family Reunion’, the expletive filled song that sees the whole crowd singing along. blink-182 are the band that people have grown up with, that people are introducing their kids to, and whilst the older material is undeniable as some of the best songs pop-punk has ever seen, the new material is still almost as good. A band who can reinvent themselves to make an acoustic show as good as a full live show, using both new and old material, are a special band. Nine albums in, blink-182 still provide one of the most fun nights out.