Live Review: All Time Low @ UEA LCR, Norwich (30/3/17)

Being 5ft 4 and quite tiny in general, having a 6ft steroid loaded body guard standing right in front of you isn’t ideal. I can see one member of the band so…this review is going to be interesting.

The UEA is packed out tonight. It’s been a number of years since Baltimore band, All Time Low graced this ‘fine city’ with their presence, and 14 year old me thought they never would. 19 year old me has mixed feelings about seeing them now, as I haven’t listened to their past two albums properly and- having hauled myself out of my emo phase a few years ago- I feel very out of place wearing a Kanye West shirt.
Thankfully I’m by the sound-desk and not in the mosh pit getting a cocktail of other people’s sweat on me.

Support band SWMRS are…interesting to say the least. They look like they should still be in high school, a band just jamming away in their parents’ basement. Probably mostly famous for having Billie Joe Armstrong’s son on drums, they have a very grungy, laid-back, don’t care, slurred vocals, desperately-trying-to-be-punk sound. It almost works but it feels quite pretentious. They come across very overly confident, already used to being on the stage and being center of attention, even having the balls to write a song about…Miley Cyrus? According to SWMRS she’s a ‘punk rock queen’. Who knew.

SWMRS finish and the anticipation builds. Cue blackout and enter All Time Low. OH WOW THAT’S A LOT OF STROBE LIGHTING.
It’s a little surreal seeing a band that, 5 years ago I accepted I may never see live. It’s almost a euphoric atmosphere when they play ‘Weightless’, one of their most well known and loved songs. Everyone is clapping and the room comes alive with an energy so electric. It’s with this song that everyone is brought together. We sound amazing according to front-man Alex Gaskarth.
‘Somewhere In Neverland’, from the album Don’t Panic, see’s heaps of passion come through, with the entirety of the pit jumping up and down in unison.
Their sound is as clean as on the records, none of this half-arsed singing you get with some bands live who think they’re ‘all that’. All Time Low are down to earth, nice guys- despite being how well known they are- and they take the time to thank the crowd, seeming genuinely in awe at the energy the crowd has and how many people are here.
Ah Jack Barakat already has 2 bras dangling off his mic stand, classy as ever Norwich.
Beach balls are suddenly flying everywhere and even the disco balls were brought out. Combined with the intense lighting set-up All Time Low have, it feels like one big fucking party.
‘Everywhere we look we see people, it’s kind of cool’, says Jack.
Their new song, ‘Dirty Laundry’, has very different sound to the usual pop-punk All Time Low are known for. It’s ambient and fresh and just when you think it’s going to stay relaxed, they hit you with all instruments and volume for the last chorus. Is this a new era of All Time Low we’re seeing?
As soon as Alex brings out his acoustic guitar up start the chants of ‘Wonderwall’. A song which- after hearing every time you go to the pub in Manchester- you’d rather pass on.
The banter that Alex and Jack have is very reminiscent of early Blink 182, minus the continuous dick jokes.
All Time Low blast out more flawless hits such as Love Like War and Backseat Serenade, and my throat is now very dry from singing. This is a brilliant gig, I may not be heavily into All Time Low anymore but honestly, I’m still having an awesome time. They know how to put on a good show and not let the quality of their sound slip up.
Encore: Lost In Stereo and Dear Maria, Count Me in
If you are standing still during this then you are a very boring person. You couldn’t have chosen better songs to end the show with. Everyone is going to leave in high spirits and on a serious serotonin kick. Well done All Time Low, that was fucking incredible.

Advertisements

Album Review: ‘California’ by Blink 182

As part of a new ‘series’ on my blog, where I review my favourite albums, new or old, here’s my review of Blink 182’s recent and Grammy nominated album, ‘California’.

It’s their first album in 5 years. It’s also their first album without co-founder Tom Delonge, with Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio) stepping in and taking his place. To say Blink 182 have made a few small changes as a band in those 5 years, since their last album ‘Neighborhoods’, would be putting it incredibly lightly.
They had been teasing a new album for ages, with constant rumours of being in the studio, yet no actual evidence of new music surfaced. It wasn’t until Matt joined (after all the drama with Tom and his subsequent departure back in 2015) that Instagram posts of studio rehearsals and snippets of album artwork appeared, fuelling the hype amongst fans.
Vocalist and bassist, Mark Hoppus, wanted the new album, ‘California’, to have influences of early Blink whilst maintaining a slight maturity that ‘Neighborhoods’ showed us- and that’s exactly what we got.
There are the anthems such as ‘Bored To Death’ and ‘Los Angeles’, then the 30 second songs- ‘Built This Pool’ and ‘Brohemian Rhapsody’- which are very much reminiscent of ‘Family Reunion’ and ‘Happy Holidays, You Bastard’. It makes you realise that Blink 182 haven’t completely grown up, and maybe the sincerity of ‘Neighborhoods’ was ‘just a phase’.
‘Bored To Death’ was the first and lead single off ‘California’, one which showcased their musical talent with sing-a-long chants, spiralling guitar hooks and a huge chorus which captivates you on the first listen.
The two stand out tracks on California are ‘She’s Out Of Her Mind’ and ‘Los Angeles’- the former reflecting their ‘Enema of the State’ era, with the video being a hilarious remake of the video to ‘What’s My Age Again?’.
‘Los Angeles’ is one of those songs which evokes so much emotion; it has so many contrasting elements, from the quick fire verse to the chorus where Matt Skiba sings, ‘Los Angeles, when will you save me?’ so powerfully, it makes you want to throw out your arms and belt it out with him.
Admittedly, not all fans will love this album, as die-hards are still mourning the (slightly expected) departure of Tom, and this album does need to be listened to more than once, in order to completely understand the concept.
‘California’ is a pop-punk masterpiece, one that encapsulates the meaning of Blink 182 and what the band stands for. It took a while to get here, but this album will not bore us to death anytime soon.

The Return of Blink 182

Today, the music world became electric with excitement, barely keeping a lid on itself. After nearly 5 years since their last full length album, Neighborhoods, Blink 182 have finally announced that their new album’California’ will be released on July 1st of this year. To get fans even more pumped up, they released a new single titled, ‘Bored to Death’, via their Facebook page. I listened to this right before writing this post, and I absolutely love it. ‘Bored to Death’ is very reminiscent of ‘Neighborhoods’, in the sense that it has a more mature vibe to it. They’re not singing about girls or sex or anything crazy like that, it’s them bearing their souls after such a long time and after a rollercoaster 5 years.

Of course, everyone by now knows that the Blink 182 who have come back, are not the Blink 182 from 5 years ago. There has always been a love/hate relationship between the Travis, Mark and Tom, something which has time and time again put a strain on the band. It seemed that, after Neighborhoods was released that everything was okay between the three of them again, yet it didn’t last this way for long. I began to wonder if Tom particularly wanted to stay a part of Blink 182 after seeing their Reading performance on TV in 2014. The vocals from Tom were…like he wasn’t trying that much to give a good performance. It sounded as though he was just speaking the words instead of singing them like Mark was, and there was no attempt to harmonise between them. It just felt flat. There was all this buzz about them headlining, and at first when I watched it I thought something was wrong with the sound quality, but as the performance went on, it was clear that Tom just wasn’t making the effort.

The reason why I was so disappointed was because I went to go see them in 2012 for their 20th Anniversary Tour, and all three members were incredible, pouring their everything into the show. So, only 2 years on to see that the spark had already fizzled out, I honestly thought that we were never going to hear new Blink music again.

However, 2015 comes around and this is the year where Blink 182 hot up again. Tom DeLonge leaves Blink after quite public disagreements with the rest of the band, and Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio guitarist and singer) is brought in as his replacement. Initially, long term fans were sceptical about having such a prominent member replaced as they saw Blink 182 as always being Mark, Tom and Travis. Although in a very short time, fans quickly warmed to Matt becoming part of Blink, and after listening to ‘Bored To Death’, it’s clear that his vocals suit the style that Blink are going for with ‘California’.

I am incredibly excited about hearing more news to do with this album, and hearing it in full when it comes out on 1st July. Hopefully the spark won’t fizzle out this time.