London, O2 Area, October 11, 2023

Photograph: Federica Burelli

Precisely one yr in the past to the day, Christmas got here early for Blink-182 followers.

After some severe teasing throughout social media, an announcement was made confirming that Tom DeLonge was, certainly, again.

Reuniting the band’s best-loved line-up, the guitarist’s return was introduced alongside their most in depth world tour thus far, and now – 9 years to the day since Tom performed what many believed could be his closing present with Blink-182 – the pop-punk veterans are again within the UK.

Kicking off a run of dates throughout the nation with the primary of two nights at London’s O2 Area, a sea of backwards-facing caps, below-the-knee Dickies shorts, tube socks, and checkerboard Vans congregate in entrance of the stage. The lights dimming, because the epic orchestral notes of a Strauss symphony sound out by the sector, the smiley face emblem seems projected on the stage – a roar going up from the gang as its 5 arrows are slowly added one-by-one.

No fast introductions wanted, with a flash of pink flares flying out throughout the room – the trio arrive and barrel straight into opener ‘Anthem Half Two’. With Mark exuberantly hopping across the stage along with his signature pink bass guitar, Tom – donning his personal backwards-facing cap – takes the lead on vocals, the room passionately singing alongside to each phrase.

Rolling straight into ‘The Rock Present’ – the pink, yellow, and inexperienced circle emblems of 2001 album ‘Take Off Your Pants and Jacket’ dancing throughout the display behind them – a swift rendition of expletive-heavy setlist staple ‘Household Reunion’ follows, shortly earlier than Tom exclaims:

“We’re so fucking good at what we do! We’re so good!”

Photograph: Federica Burelli

Delivered with the identical vitality as a child who’s simply nailed their first chord after unwrapping a guitar on Christmas Day, it’s the least express factor to depart the guitarist’s mouth all through their set – his onstage banter with Mark in full swing. Throwing ‘your mother’ jokes back-and-forth, mocking one another for making errors, and making sexual feedback at any alternative, the pair chortle and bicker like brothers all through their set – a refreshing affirmation of their reconciliation.

Nonetheless, with out uttering a single phrase all through the night time, Travis Barker instructions equal consideration from the room. His drumkit positioned atop a raised platform, the primary mosh pits of the night time get away to 2003 observe ‘Violence’, concluding with the drummer blindfolded while nailing a solo most in his career would work their complete profession to grasp unmasked. Later within the set, the drum platform rises into the air, suspending him 5 toes above his bandmates, tilting in direction of the gang as he delivers a closing solo to ‘Down’.

It’s a powerful visible feat that continues all through the whole present, a diamond of strobe lights evident above the trio for a lot of the night time while a display sparkles with cartoon recreations of music movies and different graphics impressed by the band’s varied eras. An inflatable ‘Enema of the State’ themed floating ambulance – full with flashing lights and bunny mascot driver – seems all through fan favorite tracks ‘Dumpweed’ and ‘Dysentery Gary’, while hearth, smoke, strobes, and confetti dominate the night.

After Mark boldly proclaims, “We’re higher than the fucking Beatles!”, the trio take a second to usher in a brand new period of their band. Again-to-back cuts from their extremely anticipated upcoming album see Tom screaming the bridge of ‘MORE THAN YOU KNOW’ as pyro is fired out behind him, while ‘DANCE WITH ME’ delivers one of many largest singalongs of the night time – the refrain’ “Ole! Ole! Ole!” chorus rallying the already energised crowd.

Photograph: Federica Burelli

A rendition of occasionally performed extra-terrestrial lower ‘Aliens Exist’ sees a U.F.O seem onstage earlier than a newspaper entrance web page is proven that includes Tom’s face alongside the headline: “HE WAS RIGHT. Authorities confirms suspicions. Aliens exist”. A nod to the guitarist’s in depth work within the realms of U.F.O analysis, the second of sincerity is swiftly interrupted by a double play by of 42-second joke track ‘Completely happy Holidays, You Bastard’ – as soon as at normal velocity, as soon as double – earlier than Mark addresses the gang:

“You having enjoyable? That shit ends now, it’s emo time… Comb your hair over one eye, seize some black skinny denims out of your girlfriends’ closet, and placed on a My Chemical Romance shirt.”

Introducing the mellower a part of the set, damaged house anthem ‘Keep Collectively For The Youngsters’ sees hundreds of cellphone torches mild up the room, while ‘At all times’ sees Mark kneeling down on the entrance of the stage to sing with the gang throughout Tom’s verses. One observe from Matt Skiba’s tenure within the band additionally makes the setlist, with Tom fortunately main the room in ‘Bored To Loss of life’s “whoa-oh” outro earlier than ‘I Miss You’ brings the most important singalong of the night time, with all devices chopping out for the room to scream together with Tom’s iconic second verse.

Shortly after, Mark delivers the present’s most emotional second:

“After I wrote this track, I used to be in a extremely unhealthy place… this track saved my life.”

He’s speaking concerning the band’s 1999 observe ‘Adam’s Music’, however virtually 25 years on, there’s an added pertinence to the assertion. Opening as much as the gang about one other – newer – darkish time in his life following his prognosis with stage 4 lymphoma in 2021, he continues:

“There have been days the place I felt like I used to be dying, and days the place I felt like I wished to die… There have been instances the place I didn’t know if I used to be going to be onstage once more… The docs cured my most cancers, however I nonetheless felt actually shitty and empty inside… This album, this tour, and all of you saved my life.”

A heart-wrenching speech made extra highly effective by footage of the band’s late ‘90s / early 2000s days flickering throughout the display all through the track, the vitality quickly ramps again up because the night time attracts to an in depth. Kickstarting a victory lap of best hits, ‘What’s My Age Once more?’ sees an enormous inflatable bunny dominate the stage earlier than Tom leads the gang into ‘First Date’ with a “Hey! Ho! Let’s go!” intro. Charging straight by 1999 mega-hit ‘All The Small Issues’ and breakthrough observe ‘Dammit’, confetti pours out over the gang as fireworks explode within the air across the trio earlier than the lights go down.

Photograph: Federica Burelli

Because the room chants for yet one more track, it turns into clear that tonight isn’t only a celebration of Tom’s reintroduction to Blink-182, however a celebration of all the things the seminal band have achieved over their final thirty years. Re-emerging onstage adopted by his bandmates, the guitarist nods:

“This track is about us.”

Closing the night time with the title observe of their upcoming ninth album, ‘ONE MORE TIME’ displays on the turbulent historical past and the non-public bonds between the trio. A heartfelt dedication to how tragedy has introduced them again collectively on a number of events, Tom and Mark commerce their apologies throughout the track’s light acoustic verses, earlier than Travis lends his uncommon vocals to the track’s poignant outro.

Placing down their devices and stepping in direction of the entrance of the stage, Tom removes his in-ear screens to soak up the second – 20,000 voices cheering in his path. Smiles plastered upon the faces of everybody within the room, the trio put their arms round each other and take a well-deserved bow – Blink-182 are properly and really again.