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Concert Reviews:
blink-182 gets most of the small, and large, things right at DTE

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Wednesday, August 31, 2016

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Absence and intrigue apparently made blink-182 fans' hearts grow fonder, which helped fill the DTE Energy Music Theatre for the California pop-punk trio's show on Tuesday night, Aug. 30.

It was the group's first local show since 2012 and its first with singer-guitarist Matt Skiba, who replaced co-founder Tom DeLonge last year. That's a major change for any band, much less a trio that had been together for the better part of 17 years, and certainly even the most ardent blink fans on Tuesday came wondering how Skiba -- who also fronts Alkaline Trio and the Sekrets and was a full partner on the band's new "California" album -- would fit into the live scheme.

But the abundantly rowdy faithful were supportive, too, clearly happy to have the band back on stage and to be hearing all those songs again. And Skiba acquitted himself well; His vocals are more flatly straightforward than DeLonge's adenoidal snarl -- they're actually closer to bassist Mark Hoppus' timbre, in fact -- but Skiba is just as tight a guitar player and managed to hit more than he missed during the 24-song, 80-minute show.

Following energetic opening sets by All Time Low and A Day To Remember -- whose theatrics included tossing T-shirts, streamers and even toilet paper into the pavilion -- blink emerged from behind a curtain, galloping through "Feeling This" with Hoppus and Skiba trading vocals. The group front-ended favorites such as "What's My Age Again?" and "The Rock Show," smartly currying favor before entering "California" terrain with "Cynical" -- and the number of fans singing along indicated a strong buy-in for the new model blink.

Skiba -- who Hoppus introduced as "our newest, bestest friend" -- found his groove during the first third of the show and certainly by the funky "I Miss You," which found the trio, known for its tight brevity, stretching out and jamming a bit at the end. Some of the night's best moments were, not surprisingly, "California" tracks such as "Bored To Death," "San Diego" and "Los Angeles," but the older material had the benefit of singalong familiarity, and the DTE crowd clearly appreciated deeper material such as "Reckless Abandon," "Not Now" and the tour debut of "Josie," which Hoppus said was a special request by A Day To Remember's Kevin Skaff.

Missing from Tuesday's show was blink's trademark potty humor -- save for liberal profanity, particularly during the brief "Family Reunion." The pyrotechnics, meanwhile, were kept to a tasteful modicum rather than the over-the-top displays blink once deployed, with the visual load carried by graphics, animation and occasional live footage on a high-definition rear-stage screen and video panels that flanked Travis Barker's drum kit.

And for the encores Skiba and Hoppus played matching pink instruments as they cranked through "All The Small Things" and "Dammit" -- delivering a subtle message that after the trauma of major membership change, blink is in punky lockstep once again, and the DTE crowd was definitely feeling that.

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