Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Fine Whine Is Missing from Blink-182 Set at Pavilion the Pop-Punk Band Forges on with a Blander Matt Skiba Replacing Tom Delonge

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Fine Whine Is Missing from Blink-182 Set at Pavilion the Pop-Punk Band Forges on with a Blander Matt Skiba Replacing Tom Delonge

Article excerpt

"This is probably one of the funnest tours I've ever done in my life," Mark Hoppus told the crowd Sunday night at the First Niagara Pavilion.

That's obviously a loaded comment considering it's the first Blink-182 tour without longtime mate Tom DeLonge, who was wishy-washy about his commitment to the band in early 2015 and rather shockingly replaced a few months later.

Replacing singers is a big thing among the Styx-Journey set, but we've haven't seen much of it among the '90s bands, especially ones as big as Blink-182. What Hoppus was banking on was fans being starved enough for the first Blink album in five years and the first U.S. tour in three to embrace Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio as the new guitarist-singer.

He made the right call as seventh album "California" debuted at No. 1 on the charts and the tour is a hit, as evidenced by nearly 20,000 turning up at the Pavilion on a Sunday school night with storms threatening.

But while it may be the one of the "funnest" tours (and that really should be a word) for Hoppus, is it one of the funnest for the fans?

In the sense that they were hearing Blink songs again after a long break, yes, but there was clearly something missing from the Blink experience. Every major band has its thing, and Blink's is being the whiny pop-punk trio with the obnoxious, profane interplay.

Skiba, introduced by Hoppus as "your new best friend," is not whiny. At all. He's the rare tough-guy pop-punk frontman. Amidst all the chaos on stage ? much of it coming from Travis Barker looking like an octopus on drums -- he fits in like the new Darrin on "Bewitched" (forgive the old reference). Although he doesn't ruin anything, there's not a lot of character to his vocals, so he doesn't sound right singing predominantly Tom songs like "All the Small Things," "First Date" and "Violence."

Fortunately, he's not that exposed, because Mark is the voice of Blink as well, taking lead on tracks like "What's My Age Again?" and "The Rock Show," and a lot of the songs, such as set-opener "Feeling This," had both singers bouncing off each other.

Also, Blink brought a half-dozen songs from "California" that featured the new guy or some combination of the two, and the fans were just as excited mouthing the words to the very Blink-ish new songs "Bored to Death" and "Cynical. …

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