Last month, Tom, Mark and Travis finished a short run of dates in the states as part of the Neighborhoods tour. A long time after the album was released, sure, but the tour has already seen the UK, Europe, Canada and Australia since late 2011.
The string of dates from September 6-20 marked a homecoming for the tour dubbed “The 20th Anniversary Tour” as 2012 marked 20 years of Tom and Mark’s songwriting partnership, pre-Travis. However the band insist the shows in the US and around the world were initially planned to promote sixth studio album, Neighborhoods.
Not your average tour (let’s face it, when have Blink ever done anything average) the band also managed to fit in a couple of Riot Fest appearances along the way. There was much to set it apart from the norm, including a series of fan-made, limited edition event posters. One lucky fan per location had their artwork chosen as the specific poster for that date. Each poster made had a limited run of copies available to buy online or available from merch stands on the day of the corresponding event.
Another unusual, brave and generous twist to the tour was the show they played in New York on 9-11. Undoubtedly one of the smallest gigs Blink 182 have played in years, there were not more than 500 in the audience at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg. The intimate size and the date of the show were not what set it apart though; it was the fact that all proceeds from the event went directly to two charities – New York’s William Randolph Hearst Burn Centre, and LA-based cancer and diabetes centre, City of Hope.
But with unique charms and added extras also came fantastic performances, with a hard-to-top setlist to boot. Almost exactly the same on all dates, the set – including encore – racked up 22 tracks, and also included an epic drum solo compilation from Mr Barker.
So famed did the latter part become, that the man himself even made a Vine and subsequent YouTube montage of his efforts at rehersals and live shows throughout the tour. You can check it out here:
As par for the course as a 10-minute Travis drumming effort usually is at a Blink gig, the choice of songs was a little more off-kilter. By no means bad in any way, it was just a little confusing to have a tour based around latest album Neighborhoods, yet the setlist contained only four songs from this and two from newer EP Dogs Eating Dogs. This obviously left the majority of the set still something of a greatest hits effort, with all the usual suspects like The Rock Show, First Date and All The Small Things making an appearance. It’s no wonder the tour became more known as an anniversary celebration rather than your standard tour of a record.
Opening each night with the energetic and thrashing Feeling This, Blink 182 may have had more old songs than new in their set, but they certainly knew what they were doing. Getting the crowd worked up from the start, they effortlessly mingled new and old, some decades apart, some barely an album apart.
As with most shows from bands that have been around as long as, and who’ve generated as many cult hits as Blink 182, a lot of the focus of a live performance is placed on the encore. This is the moment when you find out what would be left out, and what would be deemed special enough to round off the sweaty, energetic two hours you’ve spent jumping up and down and mouthing every word. Would be the same old song finishing off the night again? Would there be a surprise cover? Maybe there would be a special live version of an old favourite?
On this occasion, Blink 182 once again nodded to the anniversary element, starting the encore with Carousel – the very first song Tom and Mark wrote together. From then on the band slid into poignant success-maker, their first hit single Dammit, before finishing in true ever-maturing form with Family Reunion.
As Blink 182 tried to balance an outing for their new songs with a landmark celebration of the band’s historical works, the US were treated to some of the finest performances ever from the boys. It may be marking the end of an era, or simply celebrating the evolution of Blink 182. Either way, here’s hoping it leads to 20 more years of Blink shows!