Angels and Airwaves (AVA) front-man Tom Delonge must be wondering what he has to do to shed his blink-182 skin. His new band, which now exist alongside his first, are seven years old and have released four studio albums (and a short film) but are clearly still living in a shadow.
While recording, Delonge might be able to fool himself. He might be able to tell himself he's writing the best music of his career and that he won't be known as the boy who sang "all the small things" any more. But there can be no hiding from the truth on tour.
Playing at the Shepherd's Bush O2 in London last night (Saturday 14 April) there was very little pretence. Queuing up outside, there were just as many blink-182 as AVA tee-shirts and pre-performance discussions were mainly concerned with whether blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus, who lives in London, would be making an appearance.
If this wasn't crystal clear to Delonge, it became so half way through the night when his anonymous band-mates had a break and left the front-man and his guitar to it. As he told the story of how he lost his virginity to a friend's sister it became more and more apparent that Hoppus would be emerging at any second. Everyone knew it and Delonge knew they knew it.
Actually, Hoppus didn't show. The AVA front-man could probably sense the pang of audience disappointment but got away with it because he is probably the most popular member of blink-182. It will still have hurt him, though. He knows he's adored by the thousands of fans who come to see AVA - who, more specifically, come to see him - but deep down he knows they're there for the blink-Delonge. Not for the new him, not for AVA and certainly not for his band-mates.
The shame of it all is that AVA are a great band, full of original ideas. Aside from the love-or-hate vocals - which admittedly form a huge part of the performance - they are drastically different from blink-182. Fans must appreciate that and are clearly glad that two distinct Delonge-bands exist, but AVA will always come second.
It must be starting to sink in for Delonge that, no matter what he does, AVA will never shed his heritage and will always struggle to develop a new fan-base. He will always be that guy from blink-182 and AVA will always be that guy from blink-182's band.
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