Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: Blink 182 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre

Blink 182, who releases its first studio album in eight years September 27, played for an enthusiastic Charlotte crowd Tuesday - three years to the day after the Columbia, SC plane crash that killed drummer Travis Barker’s security guard and assistant and left the Blink drummer severely injured.

Bassist Mark Hoppus dedicated the new song “Ghosts on the Dancefloor” to Charles Still and Chris Baker late in the set. While its 2009 reunion tour centered joyously around Barker's return to the stage, Hoppus and guitarist Tom DeLonge (pictured above with Barker) were equally in the spotlight revealing new tunes and cutting up in typical Blink fashion.

Blink began with “Feeling This” and its new single “Up All Night” as animated rain fell on the “Neighborhoods” cityscape of the stage-size, screen-covered backdrop. “Rock Show” and “What’s My Age Again?” followed. The set list, with the exception of the new track, veered closely to its 2009 set at that point. Barker, who plays pop-punk with the improvisational skills of a jazz player, showed amazing stamina and creative beats that added to the overall set.

Blink's 2003 self-titled album was well represented with “Down,” “I Miss You” (complete with lasers), “Always,” and “Violence.” These served as the more lyrically serious and complex portion of the set along with “Stay Together for the Kids,” but Blink quickly bopped back into lighter fare with “First Date” and another track performed completely in the dark. After revealing more new songs, the bouncy set wound to a close with "Josie" (from its 1997 commercial breakthrough “Dude Ranch”), a brief booty shake-off between Matt & Kim’s Kim Shifino and Hoppus (she won), and the 1999 smash “All the Small Things.”

Of course the show wasn’t over. Barker didn’t unveil his Tommy Lee-rivaling drum rig (pictured) until the encore. He emerged, soloing along with “Give the Drummer Some” from his 2011 solo album on a giant metal arm that swung carefully over the crowd. It wasn’t quite as cool as his previous human turntable rig, but it brought fans down front closer to the action before the encore, which included “Dammit.”

The only downside (and it was a big one) was the muddy sound that plagued openers Matt & Kim and My Chemical Romance. Matt & Kim, a delightful Brooklyn-based dance-rock duo, delivered a fun set punctuated by bopping synthesizers and gleeful drumming. Both performed seated on a drum riser that would fit on the Milestone’s stage. Yet two screens projecting their animated expressions helped communicate the group’s personality to the audience.

With six musicians on stage, My Chemical Romance didn’t fare as well. I adore MCR, but the lack of clarity made it difficult to even review its set. I started off thinking during its opener, “Na Na Na,” that I’d like to see “The Fabulous Killjoys” of its latest album “Danger Days” brought to life on stage with production that reflected its theatrical sci-fi videos. As an opener its darkly lit set was fairly simple, but by the end I just wished I could distinguish the vocals through the mélange of instruments and noise. The band soldiered through arena-ready anthem after anthem - “I’m Not Okay,” “Planetary (Go!),” “Give ‘Em Hell Kid,” and “Helena.”

Songs like “Mama” benefited from quiet verses that highlighted Gerard Way’s vocals, which seem stronger than when MCR was here on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution Tour in 2007. “Teenagers” wasn’t half bad thanks to its easily shoutable chorus. “Welcome to the Black Parade” received the biggest reception from the crowd near the end of the set. By that time I was so distracted and disappointed that I didn’t realize whether or not they played their “Glee”-adopted hit “Sing” (I don’t think they did). Few twitterers mentioned the sound, nor do previous reviews, so I hope it was just an off night or was better from the lawn.


  1. Was at the show and it was Awesome...ITs amazing the sound. go to alot of concerts and the sound is always better for the Headliners. MCR & Matt & Kim were good, but woth better sound would have been better. Thanks for a fun night Blink 182

  2. Great show. Second time seeing them and got to take my 11 year old for his birthday. Wow i feel old. Fun night nonetheless!

  3. One step above a "boy band".

  4. From the pit, I thought MCR was better than blink. Gerard's vocals on S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W, Black Parade and Cancer were awesome. With the exception of the always great Travis Barker, blink was just another loud band with lasers.