Blink 182 + Frank Turner + The Front Bottoms @ Barclaycard Arena, 7th July, 2017

There is a buzz of excited chatter at the Barclaycard Arena as New Jersey indie rock band, The Front Bottoms kick off with their set.

Judging by their choice of band name and the subject matter of songs, they seem to centre their success on injecting humour into all aspects of their set, especially with Skeleton which tells the story of getting high in the front seat of a car following a failed relationship. In the same sense Au Revoir — Adios really warmed up the crowd with its catchy tune and lyrics. The randomness in their songs adds to the humour and they promote a chilled out atmosphere by inviting people to sit on a sofa which has been positioned on stage.

But as it gets to the latter part of the set, you’re left questioning; are they able to keep up with this act. Unfortunately, lead singer Brian Sella’s trademark monotone voice loses its appeal and instead of singing, he’s resorted to preaching.

But it’s a whole different matter with Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls. You know you’re going to experience some turbulence when a band’s opening song (Get Better) starts with a loud blast from a guitar, followed by Turner roaring “We’re gonna have ourselves a good f*****g time”.

The crowd are not only switched on by Turners music, but he seems to command the crowd and almost own them as his booming voice carries across the space. He demands them to sit down, chant and form a circle pit, but it’s not all take from Turner because he awards their obedience by launching himself into the crowd.

Turner’s abundant energy is relentless and he makes the audience aware that his night is far from over as his next port of call is The 02 Academy. Dan’s Song gets an even better reaction when Turner invites ‘special guest’ – you might know him as newest Blink-182 band member – Matt Skiba onto the stage to play the harmonica. The comradery between the pair is in full swing; guitars are usually Skiba’s speciality but it was amusing to see Skiba play an instrument you wouldn’t usually associate him with.

Not long after Turner’s departure, a flag emblazoned with the tell-tale image of Blink-182’s Greatest Hits album – the smiley face and the crosses for eyes – drops from the rafters; Blink-182’s way of saying “We’re coming, get ready for us”. Skiba returns to the stage with Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus in tow, bringing along with them a foray of pyrotechnics and large bold lettering ablaze with the word ‘f**k’. Only here would you find this sort of paraphernalia.

The set list is nothing short of amazing as they play the old classics I’m feeling This, Rock Show, What’s My Age Again, Down, Violence, I Miss You and — as if they would miss this out – All The Small Things; mentioning but a few.

But the big question of the night is can Skiba live up to the expectations of covering well known hits that were sung so successfully by his predecessor? Any Blink fan is going to miss the unmistakable nasal sound that comes from Tom DeLong who officially parted ways with the band to re-join Angels and Airwaves in 2015. Fortunately, Skiba gave a strong performance by putting his own spin on things. The band’s seventh album California marks the start of his career with the band, and by the reaction of the crowd, Bored to Death went down a treat.

It’s not a rock show without a sticky floor, drunks jumping on your toes repeatedly and seeing the odd guy with a Mohawk (there was plenty of this going on). There is also no better way to end a show than with Dammit, a shower of confetti and pyrotechnics so fierce you can still feel the heat hit your face even when you’re several rows back.


Reviewer: Catherine Verrechia

Photographer: Sophie Jones

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