Blink-182 at Leeds 2010
Now, what your eyes are about to scan will not make very easy reading to many. And believe me, it was a lot harder to write. Like so many of a certain age, I grew up with Blink-182, who became the embed soundtrack to my teenage years. This was going to be the one set I was not going to miss over the course of the weekend, like my life depended on it.
It wouldn't be outrageous to even speculate that the inclusion of this headliner was the band that tipped the balance as to whether or not people should buy their ticket this year, given the amount of grumblings there were about the rest of the line-up. So, dewy eyed and stood amongst the throngs of adoring fans fizzing with expectation, I waited for the magic to begin. And then had my teenage dreams smashed to pieces with a large money-making corporate sledgehammer. It was just, in a word, wrong. And as upsetting as walking in on Santa touching himself in rude places. This review is devastatingly, going to be more of a post-mortem.
On paper, it was a fantastic set. Eighteen-song strong, there were classics spanning from their entire career, even happy inclusions of real old-school tracks 'Carousel' and 'Dammit', pop-punk magic 'First Date and 'Reckless Abandon' as well as later greats like 'Always' and 'Feeling This'. Instrumentally, they were still as fresh and skater-punk perfect as they ever were. Travis Barker, always was, and always will be one of the most astounding drummer the world has ever seen. In fact, there were a few times when in jest, Mark Hoppus said that Blink-182 should be renamed 'Mark Hoppus and those two other dudes'. I'm sorry to to say it Mark, but that chap sat so effortlessly coolly at the back, quietly creating utter musical genius, is the biggest star in the Blink-182 show.
So what went wrong? Tom DeLonge. Somewhere between 2005 and 2010, he has lost the plot. It was excruciatingly uncomfortable at times to see this guy who was once one of the coolest motherfuckers on the planet; to be stood on stage at 34 years old, belching and mentioning his Dad's dick about ten times to fill in uncomfortable silences or to distract from the fact he clearly wasn't entirely sure of what he was doing. Mark, at his ever charming finest, held everything together the best he could. He offered some genuinely humorous banter, looked in amazing shape, and could still sing. The latter being something Tom just wasn't interested in. He mucked about, went off on horrible 'melodious' tangents and appeared to forget how the songs are actually meant to go. I don't know whether I was looking too much into it, but you couldn't help but think that Mark's smile was becoming more and more clenched in frustration as his valiant efforts to keep the Blink-182 motor running smoothly were being constantly tested. You don't want to see your musical heroes simmering with tension.
There were so many people raving about this gig as they made their way back to camp. Speaking to friends who attended either Reading or Leeds since, many have said that it was 'the best gig of my life'. It makes me a little sad. Blink-182 simply did not do what Blink-182 should. If it weren't for the thousands upon thousands of dedicated fans standing in the icy wind that evening, singing every single word with such adoring passion, the full extent of the problem would have been a hundred times more apparent. In fact, the whole show relied on the fans to fill in the lyrical holes Tom DeLonge decided to leave gaping in every song. Luckily for them, the unconditional love their fans have for them will mean that this show won't be remembered as the most slamming write-off it so easily could have been.
There was of course that one phenomenal little thing I thought I'd save until last. Just to kiss the whole fiasco a bit better. Encore. Travis Barker. 360 degree rotating drum solo. Track down a video whichever way you can. That man is not of this world.