Blink-182’s Reunion Tour Proves That Ageless Punk Rockers Can Make Fans Feel Like Kids Again: Concert Review

A year ago, it would have been tough to imagine that one of the hottest summer tours would be a Blink-182 arena trek. But a heathy mix of nostalgia and adoration for the recently-reunited classic lineup primed a sold-out Madison Square Garden crowd on May 19 to revisit their elder emo feelings in a show that sent the audience and band alike flying back to their halcyon days.

Although Blink-182 never broke up, the pop-punkers shifted hard with the 2015 departure of co-frontman and guitarist Tom DeLonge. Although Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba gamely stepped into the vacant role, the band’s breezy charisma and creative chops took a hit, delivering two soon-to-be-forgotten albums and earning their biggest headlines as “the band that would have headlined Fyre Festival.”

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Yet at the end of last year, DeLonge announced that he was getting back together with the band, filling the classic lineup slot with co-frontman and bassist Mark Hoppus and celeb drummer Travis Barker. It seemed Hoppus’ bout with cancer brought the boys closer, and once he was healthy again, they decided to make a new record and go on a world tour.

Even though the MSG show was just a dozen dates into their reunion, there were no cobwebs, with the trio looking pretty much like they did during their last global trek together in 2014. The staples of their performance are also intact: Barker’s endlessly impressive drumming, DeLonge’s nasally delivery and rawk guitar stances, and Hoppus’ springy baselines and sweet vocals.

And how lucky the band is to have a helluva back catalogue to pull from. Although Blink has never received due praise for their songwriting, they have dozens of hooky singalongs that any Millennial who visited Hot Topic knows by heart. Even marginally deeper cuts from the group’s most famous records had the crowd on their feet, with opener “Anthem Part Two,” “Reckless Abandon” and “Violence” getting the same reaction as singles like “The Rock Show” and “Feeling This.” Their final stretch of songs — a predictable but killer run of “What’s My Age Again?,” “First Date,” “All the Small Things” and “Dammit” — was met with a roar, with even casual fans unable to resist their oversized charm.

Despite an impressive onstage setup — Fire! Confetti! Smoke! Strobes! An elevating drumset! An “Enema of the State”-themed floating ambulance! — the best fireworks were the interplay between the band members. They bounded around the stage, feeling — and acting — like kids again. Several times DeLonge introduced songs by saying how much he loved them; Hoppus pogoed; and Barker remains one of the most skilled and flashy drummers around, entertaining himself through the set by taking breakneck solos and switching beats mid-song to keep things lively. Although Hoppus and DeLonge’s stage banter sometimes drifted into the cringey “Your Mom” jokes that served them so well on 2000’s live artifact “The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show (The Enema Strikes Back!),” but aches a little when delivered by men in their late-’40s, it fared better when focusing on DeLonge’s self-depreciation of his guitar skills, or teasing that they were going to leave Barker elevated on his platform forever, or just being genuinely appreciative of being back together and making people happy.

It was a set that made the band, and the fans, feel ageless, if only for a few hours.

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