It was an older but not necessarily wiser crowd who turned up to the O2 to watch Blink 182 play London for their first (kind of) UK gig in two years.
On Saturday, the second (hence the kind of) of their two sold-out dates was packed with no-longer-quite-teen-fans, a sea of pierced faces and multi-hued hair turned expectantly towards the stage for the return of Mark, Tom and Travis. And what a return; the band appeared onstage – stood proudly in front of a Tim Burton-esque stage set of eerie shacks and haunting moons – and launched straight into Feeling This with barely a hello.
A few more songs, then What’s My Age Again got the crowd jumping, lost in a haze of beer, nostalgia, and re-ignited teenage dreams. They slowed it down a little with Down and Miss You, followed by Wishing Well, then turned the lights off completely for family favourite Happy Holidays You Bastard, performed in pitch dark.
Picking things up again with Dumpweed – “one for all the guys who started listening to us after Enema of the State”, they coasted easily through several more songs including First Date and Man Overboard. The old quips were a little thinner on the ground than they used to be, but still happily puerile and entertaining, leaving us to drunkenly wonder if the two front men will ever grow up (and hoping they won’t).
The set ended with a madly pogoing rendition of All The Small Things, followed by the ancient (by Blink standards) Josie. Then after a brief break, the crowd was alerted by a cry of “Wow, you guys really stink back here” and turned to see Mark Hoppus addressing them from a stage by the sound desk. He and Tom DeLonge performed a toned down, drumless version of Reckless Abandon before the crowd surged back to the stage for an epic solo by drummer Travis Barker, which segued seamlessly into Carousel. Topping off the set with Dammit and the ever sensible Family Reunion, the band left the crowd applauding delightedly, with hopes high for an equally exuberant performance in Brixton next month.
The band has endured some ups and downs since going on hiatus in 2005, but after the last two evenings they truly seem to have recaptured their form. While they can’t go on indefinitely peddling themselves as perennial teenagers, there is no need to hang up the baggy shorts and baseball caps just yet. Perhaps there was less moshing at the O2 than would have been expected a few years ago, and girls were flashing their phones rather than their boobs, but everyone still left feeling well and truly Blinked.