Where: The O2 Arena, London
Yes, we know. Tom DeLonge is no longer a member of blink-182. He didn’t make a surprise appearance. He is not part of the California tour. Now we’ve kicked that elephant out of the room, let’s shut the door behind it, shall we?
As part of pop-punk culture, blink-182 have a legion of steadfast fans tonight, and the jitter of usual pre-gig excitement is mingled with a newfound sense of anticipation and intrigue, something old-school blink fans probably never expected to feel again, given the band’s 20+ year career.
But one thing we can expect for sure is fun and, on that front, blink-182 still deliver. Bursting onto the stage with ‘Feeling This’, any hesitation in the crowd evaporates and we all just dissolve into a punk-fuelled fun-fest of nostalgic hits from our rose-tinted youth.
The inclusion of Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba seems welcome, especially with California singles ‘Bored to Death’ and ‘Sober’ where he obviously feels more at home. However, he is also unafraid to put his stamp on older blink-182 numbers, and it’s cool to see fresh air breathed into songs we’ve heard time and time again; of course, with enough home comforts from Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker to still feel authentically blink-182.
As they rattle off banger after banger, with some unexpected oldies like ‘Man Overboard‘ and ‘Dysentery Gary’ taking the spotlight, the energy is palpable. Despite the crowd – and the band! – being older these days, there’s plenty of spritely enthusiasm in the room and we can see how the legacy of blink-182, regardless of controversies and changes, is still alive.
From the childlike prattle of ‘What’s My Age Again?’ and the youthful callousness of ‘Reckless Abandon’ to the iconic emo-tinged ‘I Miss You’ and the playful musicality of ‘Violence’, you couldn’t squeeze more of a varied, satisfying setlist out of this trio if you tried.
With an encore of ‘All The Small Things’ and ‘Dammit’, it’s safe to say blink-182’s new formation have found their feet. This threesome have crafted something entertaining out of what could’ve been a catastrophe, and something fresh and vibrant out of what could’ve gone stale.