The last time Tom Delonge’s Angels & Airwaves took to a Reading stage they were dodging a barrage of bottles as Tom complained: “I Didn’t Fly Across The Atlantic, Sat Next To A Fat Person, For You To Throw Your Little Bottles At Me”. Credit to then future headliner, he got through the entire set, albeit with a lot of high pitch whining.
Fast forward to 2012 and Reading couldn’t be any more different, the stage is big and red, and the crowd are eagerly awaiting Tom’s arrival. There’s a passionate bunch up front, but beyond the barrier it’s incredibly thin, and A&A do little to maintain the neutral’s interest. Their brand of “space rock” is not dexterous or complex enough to transfix, the playing doesn’t take a listener on a either a celestial or a darkly emotional journey. They’re arrangements play safely within convention, and while Tom occasionally hits upon a bruising riff (“The War”) or a cutting realization (“It Hurts”), the set rarely thrills.
Certain members of the crowd get on each others shoulders and reach out to Tom, others quickly follow suit. Sadly, after a while it becomes abundantly clear that a distracted crowd are simply amusing themselves with human pyramids as the set fails to inspire. Still, it’s more respectful than those who chose to sing “All The Small Things” over A&As album tracks. Angels & Airwaves faired better than they did in 2007, but this set is infinitely less memorable. David Hayter