blink-182 @ Manchester

IF you've ever wondered what those slightly scary gangs of young people who hang around Piccadilly Gardens at weekends do at night, then a Blink-182 concert provides the answer.
Powerpop punk kings Blink-182 are the high priests of this youthful cult, able to sell out the biggest venue in town without really being in the charts, or featuring on the mainstream music radar.
Swearing and tasteless gags about bodily functions are the cornerstones of their popularity. Guitarist/vocalist Tom Delonge and human dynamo bassist Mark Hoppus endlessly wind each other up, establishing an easy rapport with a crowd teetering on the edge of insanity.
Make no mistake, being a Blink-182 fan is a dangerous business as impromptu moshpits break out in the standing area and fans hurl themselves violently against each other.
If that's not bad enough, there's crowd surfing, where fans launch themselves onto the arms of their mates aiming for the stage.
This energetic South Californian three-piece produced a blistering set of buzzsaw guitar, melodic bass and some world class drumming from Travis Barker at a frenetic pace that rarely let up.
But they have a sensitive side, as much of their new album deals with the pressures of growing up and the stresses caused by Delonge's brother serving in the US military in Iraq. I Miss You is a genuinely moving song.
But it is the hardcore songs that go down best, and hit single This Feeling creates more mayhem in the standing area before a spirited romp through their first hit All The Small Things, a golden oldie from their charmingly titled nineties hit album Enema Of The State.
Delonge even encourages the crowd to hold up their illuminated mobile phone displays, which gave the dark arena an eerie, hi-tech beauty.
Despite the chaos, this was a good-natured event with Blink-182 and their audience having an almost telepathic understanding of how to have fun.
Green Day may be the kings of this genre, but Blink-182 may have the longer career, because judging by this chaotic affair, their fans are devoted almost beyond reason.
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