The pop-punk heroes storm The Rose Theatre in Kingston with stellar acoustic set
Alex Taylor

13:51 8th June 2016

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Punk-pop heroes Blink 182 made a triumphant, rejuvenated return to UK shores last night, as founding member Mark Hoppus joined new recruit and Alkalkine Trio frontman Matt Skiba to play two sold out acoustic shows at Kingston’s intimate Rose Theatre.

A little over a year ago, the future of the band seemed far from certain – Hoppus’ kindred spirit Tom DeLonge quit the band (again) in bitterly acrimonious circumstances, leaving the co-vocalist and bassist to pick up the pieces alongside drummer Travis Barker.

MORE: See our beautiful photos from the gig here

Rather than split as in 2005, the group enlisted the help of Skiba to help mark a new chapter of a band that has made the genre their own for over two decades.

And, if there were any doubts as to how Blink could survive post-DeLonge, the chants of “Skiba, Skiba” from fans ring loud and clear. Far from delivering a knock-out blow, the departure seems to be pulling all involved together, re-lighting the fire and passion to clearly enjoy themselves and the music.

This sense of renewal, of new beginnings, surrounds the evening. Hoppus admits that an acoustic night like this, at a venue holding around 900 is “a first”, and all thrive off the energy.

Opening with the deliciously expletive-ridden ‘Family Reunion’ shows the fun-loving soul of the band remains very much intact. There’s even time for an impromptu tongue-in-cheek Shakespearean soliloquy from Hoppus, theatrically performing ‘to be or not to be’ in light to very loud laughter and cheers.

The sense of unity only grows louder as the night goes on, with mass sing-a-longs of classics such as ‘Rock Show’, ‘Josie’ and ‘What’s My Age Again’. Skiba is very much part of this, slotting in well with his new bandmate, holding a clear chemistry, friendship and shared appreciation for timeless adolescent humour.

Hoppus’ face grins wide at the reception his new bandmate is receiving at such close quarters - delivering pure renditions of hits such as ‘Stay Together for The Kids’ and ‘Miss You’ – a track Hoppus calls a “poem from his journal”.

There’s no doubt that, for as much as DeLonge remains part of the band’s history, Skiba’s arrival has allowed the songs to be performed at their clearest for many years. So strong is the support, that when he humbly tries to instigate cheers for Hoppus, the mainstay playfully tells the crowd ‘I don't need your fucking pity chants, but it's very sweet of you’.

Performances of material from upcoming album California – a name alone suggesting the band returning to its roots - is limited mainly to lead single ‘Bored to Death’, which, although propelled by a typically huge emotional hook, is given a more melodic and sombre edge with Skiba’s vocal tones.

There’s also time for ‘Built This Pool’, teased online in a ten-hour-loop with the simple refrain “I wanna see some naked dudes, that’s why I built this pool”, to prove that as much as things change in Blink land, they stay the same. The pair even craft a song about underwear on the spot for good measure, that lyrics aside, shows how seamlessly the pair can work together.

As the night draws to an end with a more serious rendition of Billy Braggs ‘A New England’, Skiba and Hoppus choose ‘All The Small Things’ as the final farewell. Time does not permit an encore, but Blink feel like a living, breathing band again as Skiba sticks around to embrace fans – helping to forge a relationship that suggests the future may be a lot brighter than many expected.

Blink 182 played:
Family Reunion
The Rock Show
I Miss You
What's My Age Again?
Bored to Death
Built This Pool
Brohemian Rhapsody
A New England (Billy Bragg cover)
Stay Together for the Kids
All the Small Things

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Photo: Daniel Quesada