I bloody love shooting Blink. They're always well lit, loads of fun, plenty on offer to photograph, and I get to reminisce back to my teenagers years with songs about heartbreak, drinking, and boobs. What's not to love?!
I had the opportunity to photograph Blink-182 twice before. Truth be told I wish that number was a lot higher, but a lengthy hiatus put pay to that. Nevertheless they were back, touring the brilliant California album, and all was good. Albeit, slightly different. This would be the first time Blink-182 would tour the UK without founding member Tom Delonge, after his public and somewhat acrimonious split from the band in 2015. In his place was Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba, who also contributed on the aforementioned seventh studio album (eighth if you're counting Buddha. Which we're not). I was intrigued to see how Matt would fit with Travis and Mark. By all accounts, his vocal style and live presence seemed a pretty natural fit. Listening to the latest album, it doesn't feel massively alien to the rest of their back catalogue. Granted, Delonge has a very unique vocal style which the album does lack, but it's still a great Blink album in it's own right. So to summarise, Tom out. Matt in. Not all bad.
When it came to shooting the show, we were led in to be greeted by the signature curtain emblazoned with a Union-jack version of the familiar Blink motif. We had to wait for this to be removed from the pit before we were allowed in to shoot, which meant picking a starting spot was a bit of bun fight. When you're confident the lighting is going to be good, it helps to go in with a mental list of specific shots you want - helps save taking too many shots! One that is always on my list is a nice wide shot of the full band, if possible. However we were shooting in a pretty narrow pit, so chances of getting said wide shot were pretty much ruled out straight away.
Next on my list was a shot of Travis, which was also quite tricky as their was a video dude in the middle of the pit on a riser, who was difficult to avoid. It was a case of waiting for the right moment when Travis was doing something interesting and the video dude was pointing his massive video camera at something else. Thankfully, after a bit of patience, I got the shot I was after. Then I was off around the pit to see what else I could get.
One thing I had spotted when doing my research for the show was that we weren't going to be around for long - the final song of our allowance was Cynical the opening track from California, that serves as a bit of an introduction to Matt. However, at only 1:55 in duration, we didn't have much time to stick around. That said, with a show as well lit as this, and with so much on offer to shoot, two would have been plenty long enough.
It was a great gig to shoot, and I look forward to Mark, Travis and Matt (still feels weird not saying Tom) touring the UK again. And as for the verdict on Mr. Skiba? In the short time I was there, I thought he did a great job of shouldering the responsibility. Admittedly on some of the old tracks where Tom sung the lead, it did sound a bit different and may take some getting use to, especially amongst the devout Delonge fanbase. I've tried to remain neutral on the issue, and I'm hoping that the guys reconcile in the future, maybe as a four piece. Optimistic? Maybe..
Anyways. Going to stop pretending to be a journalist now. Here's some pics.