Who is going to kill it at Reading and Leeds this year? Guns’N’Roses? Sure they’ll provide the spectacle, and they’ll play ‘Paradise City’ so things will be fine. But even ‘Chinese Democracy’ couldn’t stir up any new goodwill toward Axl Rose, and it doesn’t look like he has any credits left.
Arcade Fire? Perhaps. They have the critical stripes, but they carry themselves with an overbearing seriousness that just doesn’t feel in the spirit of what Reading is supposed to be about.
No, I’m going to say something that might well have me excommunicated from this corner of the internet. If I were a betting man, I’d say it would be Blink-182.
Now don’t run away just yet, there are reasons for this. Blink have been away a long time, and their best songs have aged remarkably well. My favourite kinds of music are punk and pop, so anyone who merges the two with even a modicum of capability, I’m naturally inclined to warm to.
But be honest here, whenever you hear their signature tune ‘All The Small Things’, do you not feel some of the same pop endorphins rushing through you that, say, ‘Bad Romance’ would usually evoke?
There’s a couple of reasons for Blink-hate that people usually cite. First up: the fact that even at their height they were a bunch of ageing fratboys who should have known better than to make poo-jokes. But they addressed this directly, and with some satirical skill, on ‘What’s My Age Again?’ in 1999, when the band were already in their mid-20s. They were in on the joke.
The second is that a lot of their humour was out-and-out sexist. Perhaps so, but to witness the amount of far cruder, and crueller sexism that peppers most of the history of ‘proper’ rock’n’roll, this is a problem far bigger than you can lay at the door of a single band. Do we boycott the whole of rock’n’roll, cutting off the past to spite the future?
And to answer both points, by the time of their final pre-hiatus record they’d grown up and refined their skills – ‘I Miss You’ is positively plaintive.
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But to defend Blink as a guilty pleasure is to miss the point even more. Blink were an entire generation’s musical marijuana – the gateway drug that got them into better bands. Look at the heavier reaches of the current musical spectrum and more bands than you’d imagine cite them as the reason they formed their band. They’re a significant part of history.
Most bands reunite for the money, let’s not kid ourselves about that. But Blink-182’s return from the darkness (and Tom DeLonge committed some proper atrocities with Angels and Airwaves) seems at least vaguely rooted in the right reasons.
After the years of acrimony, it was the 2008 plane crash that nearly killed Travis Barker that forced them to finally man up and revive their friendships at the very least. From there, as it does so often in these situations, getting the band back together seemed the obvious thing to do.
Maybe they sensed it was their time for reappraisal. Unlike Rage or Faith No More, they’re even going back and making a new album. But that’s the future. For now, I’m going to risk my neck and say it out loud. Next week, it’s Blink-182 that are going to steal the show.