Blink 182 (acoustic)
The Rose Theatre, Kingston – 7.06
Compared to the bands I usually watch, Blink-182 are a BIG fucking deal – to all ages. And all Blink fans are the same: keen and punctual! When they played Brixton Academy in 2014 the queue wrapped around the venue and down the road behind it. I’ve never seen that at Brixton Academy, before or since. It’s not that there were any more people than usual – the capacity’s always the same – everyone just showed up at the same time, before the doors opened. Couldn’t wait any longer, could we.
Both queues were immense and there was a definite festival vibe in the air, as people drank beer from plastic cups and talked Matt Skiba, Tom DeLonge and Blink-182. Luckily, the lines moved pretty smoothly – you’ve gotta commend Banquet for how they handled the whole thing. What a professional outfit, right down to the old-school physical tickets. I had a green one, for the 7:00pm matinee show, added due to “unprecedented demand” when people turned up and queued for 11 hours to get into the original 9:00pm performance.
Bassist Mark Hoppus and new guitarist Matt Skiba were no doubt here for some kind of California album promo work, and drummer Travis Barker, of course, famously doesn’t fly. Still, a street cred-boosting acoustic show with Banquet in an intimate venue in Kingston was a pretty decent substitute for full-on Blink. And before I know it I’m sitting in the upper tier of the theatre, looking down on a torch-wielding roadie tuning an acoustic Fender Kingman bass guitar.
It’s a cultured setting for a Blink-182 show. Punctuated perfectly when Mark and Skiba (sounds weird to call him Matt) opened with an acoustic version of “Family Reunion.” Ah, the hallowed boards of the Rose Theatre…
“Skiba! Skiba!” shouted the crowd. “Hoppus! Hoppus!” replied Skiba. “What the fuck guys?” said Mark. “You know I lived here for three years, right?”
Next up, “The Rock Show.” And Skiba seemed totally at ease with his new day (and night) job. He played his guitar with confidence and talked shit with Mark like he’d been doing it all his life. On the next track, “Miss You,” there was an expectant silence before fired guitarist Tom DeLonge’s big bit.
“Where are you? And I’m so sorry…” Skiba nailed it. He actually sounded awesome, and a wave of internal cheers pulsed through the crowd. The best bit was he wasn’t trying to mimic Tom, he was just doing his own thing – it was also cool to hear “voice inside my head,” not “yed,” for a change.
Musically, Skiba also seemed to play the harder, higher guitar bits, rather than settle for the easier options – which is pretty impressive on an acoustic neck. Up next, “What’s My Age Again?” Followed by an impromptu song about Kingston while Robert the road dude tuned Mark’s bass again.
New single “Bored to Death” was the best song of the set. It was the first song with a hint of the new musical partnership, with darker, more brooding riffs and a touch of Skiba – even the title is classic Alkaline Trio.
And that’s where it was meant to end. But Mark and Skiba were so overwhelmed by the response (and pre-orders) they practiced a few more songs “twenty minutes before” we all walked in.
“Stay Together for the Kids” was the one blip on the set. All of a sudden I did miss Tom’s signature nasal twang on the high “So here’s your holiday…” bits. Mark and Skiba’s vocal ranges are a lot closer than Mark and Tom’s, and the song didn’t sound as good as the rest of the set.
“Down,” on the other hand, sounded incredible. Skiba sang the words with such care and attention to detail, totally taking the lead and owning it. Right down to the “this can’t be the end…” lament. “All the Small Things” was a treat, and “Josie” was an awesome way to end the acoustic trip down memory lane.
Oh yeah, someone was nice enough to film the whole thing…