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Blink-182 @ Manchester AO Arena review – the legendary trio showcase their pop-punk magic and new album

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Featured image: Press

21,000 Blink-182 fans made their way to Manchester’s AO Arena to catch Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker back in action on Monday. It was a momentous night to catch the band live with their latest album, ONE MORE TIME…, due for release just days later.

The arena was buzzing in anticipation as fans queued for drinks and merch. In a special touch, a show-specific t-shirt adorned with a rabbit dressed as a bee stood in front of Manchester’s Town Hall was available at the stands, making their iconic memorabilia all the more enticing.

It wasn’t long until the opening riffs of ‘Anthem Part Two’ began and the band appeared on stage, sending fans into a frenzy as the first crowd surfer of the night appeared. Those in the arena looked on in awe as they witnessed the legendary trio playing together again and showcasing their pop-punk magic.

Photography: Georgina Hurdsfield

‘The Rock Show’ and ‘Family Reunion’ brought back memories of summers spent listening to Blink-182 with friends, while fan favourite ‘Violence’ demonstrated Barker as an unstoppable force of a drummer, not missing a single beat after having his eyes covered with a towel by Hoppus.

Later, Barker revealed his bleeding fingers, with blood on his drum kit and his face to show for it, but this didn’t stop him from smiling to the camera and sharing a brief “hello, Manchester” with the crowd. This was all he spoke for the entire set, much to the amusement of his bandmates.

Witnessing DeLonge and Hoppus’ relationship on stage was something special; still cracking ‘your mum’ jokes as if still in the 2000’s, these school-boy jibes/endearments were entertaining to watch

‘Dumpweed’ marked the appearance of an inflatable ambulance behind the stage, taking us back to the release of late 90’s Enema of the State, whilst the middle of the set showcased singles from the upcoming album. These were as well received as old school favourites, such as second single ‘DANCE WITH ME’ which had the crowd moving to its catchy chorus and rhythmic hooks.

‘Aliens Exist’ saw fans holding up inflatable green aliens to DeLonge’s delight, while smoke machines made the circular stage look like a spaceship taking off. The production that went into the show with inflatables, fireworks, and Travis’ drum kit hoisted high up into the air made the show a true spectacle.

Soon, Hoppus was cracking jokes about the arrival of “Emo Time”, the moment to sweep your fringe across your eyes and tell your mom it’s not a phase, before playing ‘Stay Together for the Kids’

‘Always’ and ‘Down’ were spellbinding to witness as fans’ phone torches lit up the entire arena and before diving into ‘Adam’s Song’, which wouldn’t leave a dry eye in the house, Hoppus spoke about the song taking on new meaning after he developed stage four cancer in 2021, before thanking the crowd and the band for saving his life every day.

The emotional moment captured the hearts of everyone in attendance, with the love for this band and its members never more clear as everyone cheered and applauded. It didn’t take long before the band were back to cracking jokes though, with DeLonge proclaiming they were “better than the Beatles”.

The final songs of the set, fan-favourites ‘What’s My Age Again?’, ‘First Date’, ‘All the Small Things’ and ‘Dammit’, were played in quick fire succession before closing on the latest album’s title track ‘ONE MORE TIME’.

Hoppus again spoke emotionally about the track’s meaning and what it meant to them for the trio to be together and performing live again. DeLonge, Hoppus and Barker then took a final, well-deserved bow to an eruption of cheers and applause. As the crowd filtered out, Oasis classic ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ played through speakers while their crew gifted guitar picks and setlists to front row fans.

Blink-182 are undeniable masterminds of the pop-punk genre and their live performances are as full of energy, pure talent and jokes as they ever were. Fans of the band can now listen to the new album in full and hopefully we’ll see them back on our shores again soon – for a festival headline slot, maybe?

About the author / 

Georgina Hurdsfield

Masters student in Psychological Wellbeing in Clinical Practice at Manchester Metropolitan University. Keen photographer and music enthusiast.

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