Comcast Center, Mansfield MA
August 6th, 2009
In the days leading up to the show at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, Ma, the idea of seeing Blink-182 live didn’t seem that strange. While they had gone on “indefinite hiatus” five years earlier, seemingly never to speak again, the announcement of their return in February didn’t come as a surprise. Since that Grammy night announcement, the band had played a number of small shows and made countless late night TV appearances, stepping back into the spotlight as if they had never really left.
However, when the unmistakable trio of Mark Hoppus, Tom Delonge and Travis Barker took the stage before 20,000 screaming fans, I couldn’t help but be shocked, even if it was only for a moment. It was really happening. Hoppus and DeLonge, who had barely acknowledged each other’s existence for nearly half a decade, were back to licking each other’s necks and making crude jokes. Barker, who was nearly killed in a tragic plane crash only a year earlier, was back behind the kit providing the band’s background, and the fans that seemingly stretched on forever were singing along like it was 2003. Most impressively, Blink was tearing it up, sounding better than they ever had before. In the end, the band made everyone forget (+44), Angels & Airwaves, the indefinite hiatus, and all the bickering, proving they were back and in a big way.
Before the headliners would take the stage, the night began with two big name openers, and one very awkward one. The latter was Boston’ own Chester French. Their set, played in broad daylight before thousands of empty seats, included multiple attempts to get the crowd interested, all of which were miserable failures. Luckily, the band made a quick exit after only twenty minutes.
With the sun still shinning, Panic! at the Disco took the stage to a smattering of applause and launched into a set consisting of material mainly from their wildly successful 2005 debut A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. The quintet has fallen on some hard times of late with the flop of their second record Pretty, Odd, and the July departure of guitarist Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker. However, neither of these things seemed to bother lead singer Brandon Urie who bounced around the stage as he belted out all of the band’s hits. The only other time I had seen Urie and Co. was when they had opened for Fall Out Boy in October 0f 2005. At that show, they had been ear-splittingly bad, relying on recorded beats and stage antics to cover up for their lack of talent. What a difference four years makes. After throwing in Pretty, Odd tracks “Nine in the Afternoon” and “That Green Gentleman,” for good measure, the band make their exit.
Next up was Fall Out Boy, who had headlined the same venue two years earlier and were in the midst of their final tour before taking a well deserved break in 2010. While their set did run close to 45 minutes, it seemed to fall flat due to the fact that the band focused only on their hit singles. The band played only two tracks from their latest record Folie a Duex, the rather obnoxious “I Don’t Care” and “America’s Suitehearts.” While favorites such as “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” and “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” may have excited some in the crowd, that seemed quite tired to those who had seen the band in the past. This is not to say the band didn’t sound great, mainly because of lead singer Patric Stump’s spectacular vocal performance. Stump’s improvement over the past four years is nothing short of remarkable. If he were a baseball player, everyone in the crowd would be screaming for a drug test.
After Pete Wentz was finished with his rants and Fall Out Boy said good bye to the Boston area for the time being, anticipation began to rise for the return of Blink-182. An enormous black curtain was unfurled in front of the stage while the crew frantically readied what would be an immense stage production. As the crowd began to chant and those lucky enough to be at the front of the stage pushed forward, the lights in the enormous shed dimmed, and the curtain fell.
As the black curtain finally fell, there was a huge roar from the crowd, and the trio that had introduced thousands, if not millions to “punk music” stood ready, only a few feet from where I was being crushed by a few hundred other fans. They quickly burst into “Dumpweed,” and then followed with “Feeling This” and “Rock Show.” As I mentioned in previous reviews, I am a fan of starting the show off strong, and Blink was doing just that.
One of the more surprising aspects of the show was just how good the band sounded. During their heyday, Blink was generally regarded as a terrible live band. They couldn’t play, they couldn’t sing, all they could do was make lame jokes. Suddenly, Mark and Tom both tore it up on their respective instruments, and Barker was his normal spectacular self behind the kit. Hoppus and Delonge raced back and forth from one edge of the enormous stage to the other, certainly in better shape than any of the sweaty and exhausted fans all around me. Of course, Tom doesn’t have the greatest voice, but while he was downright embarrassing as recently as the band’s national TV appearances, his vocal miscues were barely noticeable on this night as the fans helped to pick up the slack.
In between Tom Delonge jokes (some things never change) Blink played all of their hits, as well as a good portion of their last (and probably best) album, 2003’s Blink-182. While they were supported by an enormous backdrop and light show, it was the frantic movement of Hoppus and Delonge that took center stage. At times, the two displayed the chemistry that had helped to make them household names in the early part of the decade, most notably when Delonge licked Hoppus’s neck.
While the trio did stick mainly to their hits, there were a few surprises on the set list, including “Not Now” and “Man Overboard,” two b-sides which never made on to an official Blink record, but are just as good as any tracks that did. The band would close the set with “Anthem Pt. II,” and then return for the most memorable encore I’ve seen in a while. It began with Travis Barker performing a solo, from about 30 feet in the air. The all-world drummer was lifted above the stage on a platform that dipped and curved at perilous angles, thrilling those watching from down below. The stunt had been a staple of Blink sets even before the band when on hiatus, and it was obvious Barker was well-versed, dazzling the crowd for upwards of ten minutes.
Next was ”Carousel,” an early gem from the band’s 1993 cassette release Buddha, to the delight of longtime fans. “Damnit,” the band’s biggest hit followed, accompanied by showers of confetti. Despite its commercial success, the song remains a favorite of most Blink fans, which was quite obvious from the reaction it evoked. While everyone in attendance begged for more, we’re going to have to wait for another tour and another record. While both of these things seem quite up in the air, Blink’s performance on this night shows they would be foolish not to milk this reunion for all it’s worth. The band has returned from their self-imposed exile stronger than ever, and it’s hard to imagine their next record being anything but another huge success. Much like this tour.
Blink-182 Set List
- Feeling This
- The Rock Show
- Easy Target
- What’s My Age Again?
- I Miss You
- Stay Together for the Kids
- Stockholm Syndrome
- First Date
- Man Overboard
- Going Away To College
- Not Now
- Adam’s Song
- All the Small Things
- Reckless Abandon
- Anthem Pt. 2
- Drum Solo