With the much-hyped return of Tom DeLonge, forthcoming new album, and their massive (yet pricey) world tour, blink-182 have a lot to live up to. Their highly anticipated reunion tour rolled into Chicago for the first of two nights at the United Center on Saturday (May 6th) and they showed Coachella wasn’t a fluke. They did not disappoint. Let’s be real, blink-182 aren’t exactly known for their live shows. Even their fans would admit they could be a little shoddy and sloppy. But over the weekend, they proved they’ve matured and grown (in some ways) sounding tighter than ever with a thrilling performance that included pyro, towering stage props, and confetti. Lots of confetti.
The 25-song setlist was nearly identical to their Coachella set from a few weeks earlier. It covered hit singles such as “All The Small Things,” “The Rock Show,” “First Date,” and “Dammit” along with favorites like “Reckless Abandoned,” “Family Reunion” and “Alien’s Exist.” Unlike their Coachella performances, they highlighted tracks from Neighborhoods (“Ghost on the Dancefloor,” “Up All Night”) and surprisingly a few Matt Skiba era tracks (“Bored To Death,” “Cynical”), which sounded great with DeLonge’s vocals. But no matter how many times you hear “What’s My Age Again?” or “I Miss You” they are so much fun to hear live. Looking at the smiles Mark Hoppus exchanged with the rest of the band, you could tell they were thrilled to be back in action.
As always, Hoppus and DeLonge’s classic banter was a highlight of the show. DeLonge can’t resist a good dick joke, often bringing up the topic unwarranted, while Hoppus played the role of everyone’s dad trying to keep DeLonge focused on the music. He even joked with the crowd saying he could but wouldn’t narc on them for smoking weed. Travis Barker kept to his role as the strong silent type letting his insane drumming do all the talking. The jokes were silly, crude, and sometimes groan-inducing, but they still made you smile and chuckle with the rest of the band.
The trio had a few tricks up their sleeve when it came to their stage show. A big floating ambulance with a caricature of the nurse from Enema of the State threatened to run over Barker during “Dumpweed.” Large video screens featuring their bunny mascot along with clips from their music videos loomed behind them throughout the night. Pyro, smoke screens, and confetti added to the party vibe of the night and Barker really showed off his chops when he was hoisted into the air, never missing a beat. But the most memorable was the giant inflatable bunny that peeked out behind the stage near the end of the show. The thought they put into their stage show made the evening even more memorable, truly turning into a celebration of the band Hoppus and DeLonge started 31 years ago.
So, did blink-182 live up to the hype? A thousand times yes. They’ve never sounded so good. They were tight and DeLonge’s sounded better than ever. As soon as they hit the stage a big goofy grin breaks across your face. Considering everything they’ve been through, a near-death experience, an “indefinite hiatus,” a reunion, a lineup change, and Hoppus’ cancer diagnosis, it’s amazing to see the trio back on stage doing what they love: playing music and making jokes together.