LIVE REVIEW: Blink-182, O2 Arena, London, 11/10/2023
Photo Credit: Jack Bridgland
Picture the scene. It’s the year 2000 and self-confessed crappy punk rock band blink-182 just dropped their live album The Mark, Tom and Travis Show, a record which captured this band coming off the back of their career defining album Enema of the State in their most energetic, high speed, irreverent humoured versions of themselves.
But what if we were to tell you that in fact this dream is a reality over two decades on, apart from the little matter of the fact that the past twenty-three years has been filled with fall outs, break ups and make ups between original vocalist Tom Delonge, bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker. With a brief affair with Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba replacing Delonge from 2015-2022, Blink recording two studio albums in 2016’s California and 2019’s Nine with Skiba on singing duties, for seven solid years despite the desire for Delonge to return, it felt like he would never be in Blink for one more time busying himself with Angels and Airwaves and UFO’s.
But as Blink-182’s longing anthem I Miss You declares, a family reunion it was, time travelling to the year ‘22 and Tom was back. Perhaps reunited under tragic circumstances, with Mark Hoppus having endured treatment for stage four lymphoma and luckily coming out cancer free the other side and Travis Barker’s wedding to Kourtney Kardashian, who announced her pregnancy to Barker in nostalgic punk rock style, time has changed but Blink-182 ultimately have stayed the same.
As 23-year-olds descend upon the opening night of Blink-182’s reunion tour ahead of the trio’s return record One More Time, The Mark, Tom and Travis Show was alive once more with the same explicit crappy punk rock that laces their rock shows. The three amigos back at it again.
“Please hold your applause until the end of this presentation which starts now,” declares Hoppus and like a lesson in the science behind being one of the best punk rock bands in history alongside Green Day, NOFX and The Descendants, Blink-182 hit The O2 with a heavy dose of back-to-back nostalgia. Ripping through classics Anthem Part Two, The Rock Show and Family Reunion, whilst the last time Blink headlined this 20k strong tent in the presence of Skiba who couldn’t have been a more fitting step in, the dynamic between Mark, Tom and Travis is irreplaceable.
But just like the provocative nurse that graces the cover of Enema of the State Blink-182 are here to pull up their blue latex gloves and get down to business between the adolescent explicit humour that bares the backbone of Blink-182’s band personality. The new as well as the nostalgic was present, the band exercising their comeback material in fun filled heartfelt style, MORE THAN YOU KNOW, EDGING, DANCE WITH ME and closer ONE MORE TIME teleporting us into a mature version of Blink-182 in 2023.
Filling the never awkward wildly numerous gaps between Blink’s other classic cuts such as Stay Together For The Kids, as Hoppus calls all the emos to “comb your black hair, grab your girlfriends black skinny jeans, slam your bedroom door and scream it’s not a phase mom!” Adams Song, which is prefaced with a touching sentiment on Mark’s battle with cancer admitting “there was days I felt like I was dying” and the unmistakable “WHEERREEE RRRR YEWWWSSSS” of 20,000 people screaming I Miss You, Blink took the time between songs to chat with unfiltered adulterated humour to the crowd, which is something that comes naturally after 31 years of being stand-up comics. Like an old married couple Mark and Tom bicker between subjects of Mark’s honorary British citizenship, the beauty of British girls and the US spending millions of dollars finding the clitoris, but just like an old married couple that bicker they do it with a deep loving bound in band marriage.
The rock show to end all rock shows, Blink-182 are grown-ups who never should grow out of their teenage years and this reunion tour feels like a long-lost family reunion just with 20,000 people hereby present. 10/10
Written by: Katie Conway-Flood