September 8th, 2016
Xcel Energy Center; Saint Paul, MN
After a well-publicized split with guitarist/songwriter Tom DeLonge, the remaining members of Blink-182 decided they’d had enough. Found themselves a different lanky guitar player, released the album California earlier this year and went on tour. And based on the reaction of the almost sell-out crowd, no one seemed to mind. Or notice. I even heard one gentleman proclaim he wasn’t sure he knew any of their songs.
I didn’t see much of DJ Spider which I doubt is of any concern. For me, the show started with the ageless All American Rejects. Their brand of tween-rock with the catchiness of a candy bar commercial proved to be a perfect warm up for Blink as the audience, who was much younger than I anticipated, seemed to sing along with every song. What I don’t understand is why AAR need 6(?) people to play their music.
A Day To Remember brought even more energy to the night with their 50-minute set. Initially, I found this an odd fit for a Blink tour but tonight I was proved wrong. It seems the powers that be may just know what they are doing. Maybe a Tom DeLonge-less Blink will be OK.
Not so fast.
Starting the show with the classic “Feeling This” as a gigantic flaming logo of the word FUCK burned behind them, the crowd was clearly ready for tonight’s headliner. Going right into “What’s My Age Again” it appeared this version of Blink-182 may just work. And to be honest, on many levels it does. Mark Hoppus is just as important to the sound of Blink-182 as Tom was. And while not an original member per se’, Travis Barker may be the most replaceable member of the band and he’s not really replaceable. If that makes any sense. And Matt Skiba can play the songs and looks the part.
But as the night wore on and we heard Matt sing more Tom songs, it just didn’t fit. It was most notable when Mark and Matt would sing together. It was just off. To be fair I don’t know that there is a better replacement. Band dynamics can be complicated. You have Mark who wants to reap the rewards of the work it took to build Blink into an arena act and Tom wants to explore other avenues of creativity. Neither is wrong. Both have earned the right. And if Tom isn’t on board then I guess Matt Skiba is a fine replacement. It’s too bad you can’t do a Blink show without playing Tom songs. Because it would feel more authentic. And I like the new record. So while I get why they made the decision to move on without Tom, I’m just not buying it. But based on the crowd this night. I was in the minority. For some, I’m sure this is better than none.
By the end of the night as they brought the show to a close with “Dammit”, those in attendance were taken on a 20 plus song journey through the band’s catalog with a setlist that would please most diehard Blink fans. Blink-182 is probably coming your way soon. Find out for yourself what you think and make your own judgement. You have mine.
Photos by Bakko.