LIVE REVIEW: Blink-182 (Acoustic), PRYZM, Kingston Upon Thames, 18/10/2019
Marking the release of recent record NINE with two stripped-back sets, Blink-182 returned to Kingston’s party hive PRYZM for two sold-out acoustic album launch shows with Banquet Records. Two-thirds of the band; singer Matt Skiba and bassist Mark Hoppus, brought the placid pop-punk vibes for a compact, career-spanning set.
With a nine pm stage time, this coincidentally called for NINE number Darkside to open the second acoustic set. Exploring this new era of Blink, the fourth single opened on an infectious dance-filled note, with Matt Skiba and Mark Hoppus’ sweet earworm melodies taming the otherwise tireless groove of the amped-up version. Compared to the earlier show, it was much less of an album launch gig and instead a deep dive into the punk-rock discography of Blink-182. Skimming past Blame It On My Youth and Generational Divide and switching in classic What’s My Age Again? to the satisfaction of the sold-out crowd.
California classic Cynical cropped up next and by comparison to the studio recording, the reliance of Skiba and Hoppus’ timing on absent drummer Travis Barker became apparent. Skipping out the show due to his touring travel circumstances, the presence of Barker lived on in spirit, as the sound of impromptu drumming from a fan hellbent on filling his shoes took the temporary two-piece by surprise, causing the band to double-take asking “Travis? Is that you?”.
Timeless Blink tracks dominated the latter half of the 45-minute show. The most appropriate acoustic song on the setlist, I Miss You supplied an epic singalong by the time the second verse rolled around. Lead vocalist Skiba of Alkaline Trio fame took former frontman Tom DeLonge’s signature nasal whine and tore it up. Whipping up a rip-roaring round of support from the room the moment the lyrics “Where are you?” were sung, shouts of encouragement were directed towards Skiba, whose stirring vocals filled Tom’s part to a T.
Sliding in a surprising cover song, Blink-182 put a pop-punk spin on Post Malone’s hip-hop track A Thousand Bad Times. Hoppus and Skiba worked their way through the almost snap decision on a whim, before finding their feet to confidently control the chorus, as they managed to inflict a bit of acoustic Blink onto a Posty original like it was their very own.
Straying away from the setlist, Dude Ranch’s Dammit and Enema Of The State’s Aliens Exist mark the moment the set was recklessly abandoned. Briefly digressing about the wonders of Wetherspoons, a staple pub chain amongst British society, the bassist got on back to the music stating “Here’s a song” before catching the crowd off guard and the group too, as Aliens Exist called for a spur of the moment on stage band meeting. A momentary break was well worth the wait.
Closer All The Small Things sent the show off with heaps of amusing acoustics. Shortly followed by a quick-fire blast through Built This Pool, Blink were keen to keep their climaxing choices both catchy and comedic.
Bringing two tiny one-off shows to the small PRYZM venue, Hoppus and Skiba welcomed in new record NINE with a wide-open embrace. Despite being one man down, with a Barker shaped void looming overhead, the band made their highly anticipated UK return a soaring success. The first in two years since the 20,000 strong packed out arena audiences on the California tour cycle were swapped out for the sold-out small scale 2000 cap crowds, which witnessed Blink-182 delivering some seriously tuneful pop melodies and stripped back punk instrumentals to perfection.
Written by: Katie Conway-Flood
Photos by: Nathan Roach