LIVE: blink-182 @ The O2 Arena

By Jess McCarrick

Eclectic thud clunking band blink-182 are embarking on an international tour with newly reinstated member – singer and guitarist Tom DeLonge. Getting the original lineup back together is enough for many fans to come out, but the reason to stay is quite different – where ironic quips meet speed driven riffs, the evening sees the three piece present quite the argument for Blink’s case as still being a dominant force in pop-punk.

Opening with ‘Anthem Part Two’, drummer Travis Barker begins with palpitations on his drum kit as all falls silent, soon followed by the metallic twang of a guitar and the crowd starts to churn with motion. It’s a zero to one hundred moment apt for a band that rarely leaves anything in the dressing room. Lyrics, “we really need to see this through” is a fitting motif to mark the set – and the tour for that matter. Immediately following is ‘The Rock Show’, a middle finger meets meta moment lyrically for the band; the members clearly have a lot of fun with it. 

The audacious nature of the band’s crude but iconic lyrics are easily understandable in the moments between songs. With a carefree irreverence, the returning DeLonge lets slip that “all the people from last night were ugly”, an incentive to scream louder if ever you’ve heard one. These small moments of crowd interaction are met with laughter as DeLonge and bassist Mark Hoppus riff between each other, showcasing how a friendship as long and complex as theirs leaves a bond that doesn’t take long to reconfigure. 

As we enter the second half of the show, a giant red van descends from the rafters during the slight respite of the slower paced ‘Up All Night’. To the momentous surprise of the room, the van begins to turn with the approaching bridge of the song to reveal the nurse from the cover of album ‘Enema of the State’. With this, we are plunging into ‘Dysentery Gary’; guitar and drum began to hum in unison as the notes seem to blend into one another, with a ferocity like no other – relentless is the word as following on is ‘Dumpweed’, another song that ups the ante of musical limits. Pyrotechnics – a staple for the band – sees fire blaze around their performance space, even their backdrop is on the edge.

A complaint if there is one, is that Blink are very much an all or nothing band, their live set is lacking the nuance and variance that their discography seems to have. Maybe criticising them for bringing what can only be described as unceasing pace to their tracks is a little unfair considering how well the pit seems to take this change, only perhaps rivaled by the screams coming from the rafters; however it’s noticeable with track ‘Stay Together For the Kids’. The live version melts with anonymity into the setlist, whereas the recorded counterpart has a grander and more poignant composition that takes its time to build.

Barker’s talent is mesmerising, and it’s easy to get lost in the insatiable drum patterns he maintains throughout the entire show. He is hoisted into the air with his kit as he plays back to back tracks downwardly titling to the audience, yet his composure doesn’t even flicker. DeLonge and Hoppus spend minutes baiting the crowd into thinking Barker is dying to speak to everyone, and when the moment finally comes, all he says is “Hey London” before continuing drumming to the great pleasure of the crowd who love the raucous moment. These three know how to play to all their strengths, a harmony from three decades of musicianship, and Barker’s desire to perform is purely musically based – and with skills like his, you really can’t blame him.

They play the iconic Top Gun melody to open ‘What’s My Age Again’ which, considering their blatant Americanism, seems a fitting addition and nod to the contemporary success of the story in the film. It draws parallels with the band themselves, a symbol of the states that still transcends what it represents – a line that is so carefully tread by the band and their music. With this, they are officially on a whistle stop tour of their greatest hits. Whether it is the band being drowned out during the crowd’s voices chanting the “where are you? And I’m so sorry” of ‘I Miss You’, or a whirlpool of space for a pit opening as ‘All The Small Things’ starts. The nostalgia packed within this final half an hour is more than most band’s can say about their setlists. 

No one can discredit blink 182 on their legacy, and what is better yet still is that the threesome still go at it with the same adolescent vigour of days past. They are where technical skill meets childish candour – a combination so distinctive you’d only need to read that to know who this review showcases.