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Live Review: Blink-182 @ RAC Arena

9 February 2024 | 8:30 am | Michael Hollick

Blink-182 may have grown older, but their music remains forever young for an enraptured Perth audience.

Blink-182 in Perth

Blink-182 in Perth (Credit: Mikaela James)

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Iconic pop-punkers blink-182 commenced the Australian leg of their World Tour 2023-24 last night to a sold-out Perth RAC Arena. The tour, while commemorating the band’s thirtieth anniversary, is most noted for the return of the band’s iconic lineup of the band: Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker and Tom DeLonge for the first time in almost a decade, a fact all the more remarkable given Hoppus’ diagnosis of stage four cancer in 2021.

Demand to see the reformed trio was unprecedented, with the initial tour dates in Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne all selling out within minutes of going on sale back in October of last year. Additional dates were hastily added for each of the cities, but with tickets for these too also quickly selling out, the band has ended up with a massive fifteen-date run of Australia, something that they never did even when at their peak back in the day  While the value of nostalgia, especially in the current musical landscape, can never be underestimated, the blink boys seemingly mean more to many than even they are aware of. 

And this special place that the band occupies in so many people’s hearts is never more apparent than when blink-182 take the live stage. While there were the expected signs of physical age on the band members, the group's live dynamic was as upbeat and energetic as it was in its heyday. Which probably shouldn’t be that surprising from a band who found fame in singing about just how goddamn immature at heart they are. 

Accompanying the blink boys across the Australian continent are Rise Against, who added more heat to the already sweltering warm summer Perth night with a set of blistering politically and socially conscious charged melodic hardcore and punk anthems. 

Kicking off their set with the multi-tempoed push and pull of Prayer Of The Refugee, lead vocalist Tim McIlrath was in stellar form, leading his troops in an all-out assault on the expectant audience. McIlrath’s vocals soared throughout the venue, as did the astounding solo shred work from lead guitarist Zach Blair

Swing Life Away, from the group’s 2004 breakout album Siren Song Of The Counter Culture, was a standout moment of the set, with the song’s quieter musical texture serving to highlight the group’s tremendous harmonies and musical depth of the quartet. Set closer, Savior had the greatest impact on the near-capacity crowd, with its fast-paced riffage and melodic underpinning saw fists begin to pump and legs get into pogo mode across the GA section. 

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It was then not long before the lights were once again dimmed, and the strains of Richard StraussAlso Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30 filled the venue as an animation of the blink logo being spray painted on the big screen signalled the imminent arrival of the headliners. Bouncing onto the stage, the trio of Hoppus, Barker and DeLonge wasted little time getting down to business, kicking off the night with a stroll down memory lane via fan favourites such as Anthem Pt 2, Rock Show and Man Overboard. 

Stopping to consider the band’s current career trajectory, DeLong offered up the supercilious summation of “God damn it, we’re so good. It's like we had a break but now we’ve returned, and we’re just as good as ever” before Hoppus gave his lamest joke of the night, “Happy Perth-day everybody” proving the group still relish in the irreverent and cheeky, with the crowd eating it all up by laughing and cheering in response.

Mid-set, the band showcased three of their latest efforts taken from last year’s ONE MORE TIME…  The dual-vocal delivery of MORE THAN YOU KNOW was classic blink, while EDGING saw the band toy with rockabilly, while the triumphant throwback punk ode to masturbation of DANCE WITH ME, which climaxed with its chorus of “Olé, olé, olé, olé”, had the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs. 

Elsewhere, the group debuted a new song, FUCK FACE, which featured Barker on vocals. These vocals, however, were completely lost on the crowd due to the drummer’s microphone being nowhere near his mouth and, following this, the energy of both the band and the audience seemed to go awol, as the band’s in-between ha-ha banter seemed to be replaced with a more oh-oh sense of tension between Hoppus and DeLonge. 

However, this lull was soon rectified as the band hit the home stretch, with all the big hits coming out to play. The opening riff of What's My Age Again? received the greatest cheer of the night, while the pop-punk one-two of All The Small Things and Dammit showed the band knows how to ignite any party, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

Leaving the stage briefly, the trio returned to perform the heartfelt ONE MORE TIME, with its biographical lines of “Do I have to die to hear you miss me? / Do I have to die to hear you say goodbye?” showing that despite what they want you to think, there is more going on than dick jokes and puerile pranks in these men’s minds. At the song’s conclusion, putting their respective instruments down, the trio made their way to the front of the stage, arms linked to thank the audience. 

blink-182’s performance was a time capsule, providing both longtime and newer fans a chance to relive the days when baggy jeans, chains, and dyed spikes were the epitome of cool. The band may have grown older, but their music remains forever young.