August 25, 2016
O2 Islington, London
“London in the summertime – this is like the greatest place on earth”
Third Eye Blind’s concert at the O2 Forum last year was described as maverick; the first three songs were performed entirely shrouded in dry ice. This show at the O2 Islington continued in the same vein. Just two spotlights singled band members out during an extended intro.
During the intro, the band’s frontman was conspicuously absent. Only a stray strobe illuminating the drum riser showed Stephan Jenkins to be lending a hand with percussion.
Jenkins stepped up the microphone as an imperious silhouette surveying the expectant crowd.
Jenkins explained that the show almost didn’t happen, following an encounter with a sniffer dog at customs. Whether due to relief, jet-lag, adrenaline or some other stimulant, the band approached this Leeds/Reading festival warm-up show as if it were the main event.
There’s no denying that Third Eye Blind’s 1997 single Semi Charmed Life had – and continues to have – considerable radio airplay in the UK, despite only reaching number 33 in the British charts. Yet this was clearly not a casual crowd listening out for the hits. As the set began in in earnest, the fans went wild. The reaction to rarer cuts was just as vigorous as it was for the singles like Jumper, Never Let You Go and Losing A Whole Year.
With so many back-to-back hits in the U.S. in the late 90s, Third Eye Blind were often dismissed as radio-friendly throwaway pop stars. However, their lyrics consistently undercut that reputation, touching on suicide, violence, drug use and sex toys.
Jenkins’ acoustic segment foregrounded the strong melodies and charm that both attracted mainstream attention and softened the impact of the dramatic lyrical themes. A case in point was the epic and bloody brilliant set highlight Slow Motion. The song was so controversial in 1999 that the label insisted it be released only in instrumental form. Luckily for us, it made it on to the UK version of Blue uncensored.
Jenkins pointed out that U.S. radio stations have refused to play their latest single Everything Is Easy. Meanwhile, the band recently made the news by baiting an audience of Republican supporters with quips like “raise your hand if you believe in science!” and a performance of the ultimate Republican-baiting song Non-Dairy Creamer.
It seems Third Eye Blind will continue to step in and out of the spotlight for years to come, with a loyal fan base supporting them all the way.
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