26 September 2009

Guest Blogger: Blink-182 - August 26, 2009

The following review was written by one of my favorite writers, the brilliant Keith Heumiller after attending the Blink-182 show at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ. He emailed it to me quite awhile ago and due to so many situations, I was unable to bring it to you until now. I greatly appreciate Keith's generosity with this review exclusively for Music Mavens. I'm lucky to know someone who is not only passionate about music but so incredibly talented. Hopefully he'll let me steal more of his work in the future.

I actually listened to Blink-182 after this...for a little while.

Here's what he had to say:

In terms of the concert itself, I was rather disappointed. This was, I think, the third time I've seen them, and I actually walked out on the last one (2002's Pop Disaster Tour w/ Green Day) because, quite simply, they couldn't play. They sounded like a 3-piece middle school band trying to cover Blink 182 songs, and the disjunct between their studio work and live performance was almost physically painful to listen to. I don't normally walk out on concerts, especially ones that cost as much as that one did, but I don't normally find myself confronted with such a painfully obvious truth as I was that night - namely that Blink had become a "studio band," one of the worst possible indictments for any group with underground punk roots or predilections.

At this concert, however, I was surprised to see that the guys had actually learned to play their own songs. Most of them, anyway. Some, like "I Miss You" and "Violence", from the super-produced, mega budget Blink 182 album (2003), were still so obviously scaled down in the live version that they were almost unrecognizable. But where the band picked up in their performance of crap-pop hits like "All the Small Things", they fell way behind on the creativity end. The set played out like a greatest hits CD. Only 2 of the 14 or 15 songs they played were "bomb tracks," or non-singles, and there was never even a mention of a new album, or new material. The same old fart jokes were there, the same pedantic banter back and forth between Tom and Mark, but there was no broaching the subject - no evidence whatsoever - of a "new" Blink 182 emerging from the ashes of their breakup. Those of us hoping for a push in a new, more mature artistic direction - a direction perceived by both critics and fans in the wake of their last, self-titled album, which Rolling Stone gave four out of five stars and dubbed a "coming of age masterpiece" - may be in for a bit of a disappointment.

In short, this concert - this tour - strikes me as nothing further than a Geffen-sponsored test run, a temperature-gauging of the pop culture pool to see if Blink 182 is still relevant enough to spend 2 million dollars on a new record. If the band was serious about moving in a new direction, about crafting and developing a more artistically respectful and socially poignant variant of the pop/punk/rock wave they rode to stardom, they would not have put on a show that, in nearly all respects, could have been seen on the same stage over five years ago. They are not catering to an older, more discerning network of fans (who were there, in fact. I spoke to a 60 year old man in the beer line who said he had heard Tom's side-project Angels and Airwaves from his son, and liked it enough to come see if it would somehow have an effect on a "new" Blink 182. I went to talk to him at his seat about halfway through the show, but he was already gone).

The band did add one "new" touch to their live show, however. Near the end of the concert, Travis, alone on stage, strapped himself into a custom built throne and flew around the arena in a sort of 'magic carpet' style flying drum solo (see pics). This would have been cool, if I hadn't seen it before. I guess the band didn't understand that some of their fans may be old enough to remember Tommy Lee doing the same thing, almost a quarter-century ago.

All photographs courtesy of Keith as well.

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