Reading Festival “warm-up” was right. It was unbearably hot in Brixton Academy, while the long-running American pop-punk band who aren’t Green Day prepared for their festival headline slot at the end of this month. Hard-rocking Reading has always held a torch for this frenetic, goofy sound even when its fortunes have waned, though there is renewed interest right now thanks to current schoolgirl favourites 5 Seconds of Summer, who profess deep love for Blink 182 and their tattooed ilk.
With no new album since 2011 and currently between record labels, the Californian trio are dangerously close to playing these big shows as a nostalgia act. Residual affection for their melodic barrage was bolstered in 2008 when drummer Travis Barker almost died in a plane crash, prompting the estranged members to reunite. Since then they’ve been taken a shade more seriously, growing in complexity while Barker plays with octopus arms.
Here they veered between powerful and puerile, hammering their instruments on First Date and the joyful MTV favourite All the Small Things, while calmer songs such as I Miss You revealed that there are feelings behind the face-pulling.
Even on a serious number like Down, however, bassist Mark Hoppus entertained himself by obscuring our view of Tom DeLonge while the latter emoted. The pair’s interaction was their great strength, whether snarking between songs or sharing starkly contrasting vocals.
Big screens and an impressive set of football floodlights that spellled the band name were ready to be seen in a giant field soon. During the encore, a memorable display of the word “fuck” in tall flaming letters proved that these jokers can age, but they’ll never grow up.