Blink-182 Manchester: Tom DeLonge’s return has them back to their best following electric first AO Arena show

Almost a year to the day since his return to Blink-182, Tom DeLonge helped put on a show worth the wait for the Manchester crowd

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Blink-182 made an electric start to their two night takeover of Manchester’s AO Arena on Sunday. The band, back to the line-up which was first put together in 1998 with the return of front man Tom DeLonge, played a set laden with classic emo/ punk hits as well as a sprinkling of new tunes. 

Californian band The Story So Far have been opening up for Blink-182 on the UK tour, and they took delight in telling the bubbling AO Arena crowd that the venue is the biggest they’ve ever played. After a scintillating 13-song set, I doubt it will be long before they’re at it in a venue of that size again. They are a proper American punk rock band. The likes of which flourished in the 80s/90s and are evidence this is still the case. 

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This was Blink-182’s first Manchester show with DeLonge, Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker in 10 years. The six years without DeLonge whilst experimental, just didn’t quite feel the same. Seeing the three back on stage together is what many fans old and new want. 

An electrifying set opened with ‘Anthem Part 2’ and then ‘The Rock Show’ in a few minutes which threw fans back to the Blink-182 basics. One thing which these three have is chemistry, and within minutes it was made to feel as though Tom had never been away. 

Blink-182 at Manchester's AO ArenaBlink-182 at Manchester's AO Arena
Blink-182 at Manchester's AO Arena

Showmanship is something which Blink have always been known for, and Barker was front and centre of this. ‘Violence’ was played with the legendary drummer blindfolded with a white towel, not that this knocked him off stride. He ended up putting his blood, sweat and tears into the set, and in the case of the blood this was literal. A close up of the camera showed his bloodied and bruised hands, with specks of blood on his drum kit. 

The dynamic of Blink is a unique one, as you effectively have the banter of a front man but doubled. Hoppus and DeLonge bounced off each other seamlessly, and it's a set up which few bands could pull off. There were all of the usual immature jokes and remarks which, despite the age of the band now, still has something admirable. That’s Blink-182 and, on top of the quality tunes and stage presence, it's what the band is known for. 

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Fire, confetti and lasers were a regular feature during the 90+ minute set. In ‘Happy Holidays, You B******’, a rapid fire song filled with some interesting imagery, the stage was lit purely by bursts of fire surrounding Barker’s drum set. 

One of the most highly anticipated moments of a Blink gig is when Travis addresses the crowd. He gave a quick hello before being lifted into the air above the AO Arena stage. He was up there for ‘Down’ and remained suspended for most of the rest of the set, occasionally being tilted forward and rotated to either side of the seated areas of the arena. 

Drummer Travis Barker in the sky above the AO ArenaDrummer Travis Barker in the sky above the AO Arena
Drummer Travis Barker in the sky above the AO Arena

In 2021, around a year before returning to Blink-182, Mark Hoppus announced that he had been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer. It was a diagnosis which understandably shook him and, now cancer-free, Hoppus addressed the Manchester crowd. 

He spoke of a song which he wrote during another dark time earlier in his life, and how during the cancer diagnosis this song had got him through again. He thanked the crowd, saying that everyone who comes to the gigs has saved him. The track was ‘Adam’s Song’ and it was played with poignancy and class. 

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The set was rounded off with some of the truly classic Blink tracks, including ‘Dammit’, ‘What’s My Age Again’, and ‘All The Small Things’. The jam-packed night of fun and iconic songs drew to a close with ‘One More Time’, the title track of the band’s new album which is out on October 20.

It’s a slower song than most of their big hits, but it’s melodic and calming nature was a nice way to end the show. Fans filed back out onto the Manchester streets with a recording of 'Don't Look Back in Anger', giving a local twist to end the night.

Blink-182 set list in Manchester October 15

  1. Anthem Part Two
  2. The Rock Show
  3. Family Reunion
  4. Man Overboard
  5. Feeling This
  6. Violence(Travis blindfolded)
  7. Up All Night
  8. Dysentery Gary
  9. Dumpweed
  11. EDGING
  13. Aliens Exist
  14. Happy Holidays, You B******
  15. Happy Holidays, You B****** (played once more faster)
  16. Stay Together for the Kids
  17. Always
  18. Down
  19. Bored to Death
  20. I Miss You
  21. Adam's Song
  22. Ghost on the Dance Floor
  23. What's My Age Again?
  24. First Date
  25. All the Small Things
  26. Dammit



Night 2 at the AO Arena is tonight (October 16). A limited number of tickets are available through Ticketmaster. If you are able to, a trip to the arena to see this band back to their best can’t be recommended enough.  

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