Blink-182 & Rise Against – Spark Arena: March 2, 2024

Blink-182 rode into town and rocked Auckland’s Spark Arena with help from Rise Against. The 13th Floor’s Andra Jenkin was there to catch all the action:

At the urging of my son, for whom all things 90s and 2000 are new and exciting, I have left the comfort of my domicile to queue with thousands of my fellow kiwis at Spark Arena to take in the pop punk skater sound of Blink-182.

Blink-182Forming in 1992, they skyrocketed through the charts, joining the ranks of bands like Offspring and Green Day, writing the anthems of a generation. More than 20 years later they came to rock Auckland, the last gig on their 4 leg, 93 date world tour of North America, Europe, Latin America and finally, little old us in Oceania.

I always love going to the last gig on such a huge tour, because the band knows this is it before they pack up and head home. It’s the last chance to be rock stars and it shows. They always give their all before the lights go dark.

The current line-up boasts founding members, Mark Hoppus (vocals and bass), and Tom DeLonge (guitar and vocals) and replacing Scott Raynor, who left in 1998, the absolute beast of a drummer, that is Travis Barker.

Rise Against

But as usual, before going into details about Blink-182, I give an account of Rise Against. Though the support band in this case, Rise Against easily hold their own at a stadium. Starting bang on time, the ground floor is packed, when through the darkness, an epic, artistic, dystopic sound breaks out. It’s an attention-grabbing start for Rise Against Rise Againstcreating instant hype in the crowd.

Formed in 1999, the Chicago punk outfit comprises Tim McIlrath on vocals and rhythm guitar, Zach Blair on lead guitar, Joe Principe on bass and Brandon Barnes on drums. However, in Auckland, Joe had to bail on the tour early and was replaced last minute by bassist, Neil Hennessy.

The vocal sound is a little murky, but the crowd are already going off, it’s clear many are here for Rise Against. They are energetic, aggressive and hardcore, with some impressive finger tapping by Zach Blair. The songs are fast-paced, rhythmic, hard rock. Front man Tim McIlrath is engaging as he chats with the crowd, climbs up on the risers and jumps around. It’s a large scale set up with the lights, but nothing compared with Blink-182s set up. One wonders if there’s a limit on the volume and stage trickery for Rise Against so that there’s something more for the main act.

First coming to our shores 20 years ago for the Big Day Out, and support for the Foo Fighters, Rise Against’s vocalist, McIlrath seems to genuinely enjoy coming to Aotearoa as he tells us, “It’s so good to be here, for so many reasons.”

After the huge, hardcore bangers, like Violence, Swing Life Away is a change of direction to an acoustic, wistful, melodic ballad with deep, emotive lyrics. “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours first/ Let’s compare scars – I’ll tell you whose is worse.” The phone torches are out creating a sea of lights.

The band are all wearing the hard rock uniform of black t-shirts and black jeans, as if they have a communal wardrobe, but they’re not about the gimmicks or the fashion. They are doing a full-on workout keeping up the energy and tempo at that speed. Zach’s doing the windmill on the guitar while Tim takes a megaphone to shout out to the crowd. Also, shout out to the guy dressed as a banana dancing up a storm. He must be absolutely sweltering in that thing.

Rise Against

Brandon Barnes strikes cymbals paired with bell hits and lots of kick and snare. His timing is perfect and I fear for the seats on Re-education Through Labor, a political song and total headbanger, with the baying of the crowd washing over us. The last song, Our Savior, is an arena song and the band break out rock staples like smoke machines, messing about with feedback on the guitars and Zach treats us to some more finger tapping and note bending with those dexterous digits. The band are clearly having fun and so are we. The outro an epileptic’s trigger of light, and a standing ovation for Rise Against.


After a short interlude during which the busy staff pack away the complicated first act set up, the entire audience is up on our feet, rising for Blink-182, who enter to the theme from 2001- a Space Odyssey. Also Sprach Zarathustra, is the name of the song, an epic Blink-182opener if ever there was one. The smiley face with crosses for eyes that is the band logo, draws itself on the screen behind them, while a bass rhythm you can feel in your heart, underneath the lyrics, Everything has fallen to Pieces, from Anthem, part 2. It’s an accurate title. Practically every Blink-182 song is anthemic. Obviously, they’re bangers and the crowd are going wild, most singing along to every word.

The band is easy going on stage, comfortable and sharing stories and comments with each other. The performance enhanced by pyrotechnics, smoke machines, ticker tape cannons and even fireworks. This is a band with a lot of money to spend for whom too much is not enough. The screens show full production cartoons and visuals that remind me of an acid trip or a children’s show. Interactive cartoons play on the screens either side of the stage, where cages or prison bars are drawn over the musicians while they play.  It’s an amazing stage show, with plenty of gimmick and tricks and tech. It should really come with a severe epilepsy warning because the flashing lights are going straight to your brain waves.

Blink-182A range of expletives explode from front man Mark Hoppus, as Family Reunion is played, a musical rendition of George Carlin’s 10 words you can’t say on TV. The band is consistent. Big rock sounds and skater aesthetic. I love the Fugazi, Descendants and Blink-182 artwork on Tom Delonge’s guitar, while Mark Hoppus sports happy-faced fruit on one and the band’s rabbit cartoon on another.

Drummer Travis Barker has to be seen to be believed. and not just because he’s completely covered in tattoos. He’s a machine. So much power and speed, with complex rhythms. Wearing a T-shirt that claims, Dream Big, Die Young, until his insane pace forces him to get rid of it, firstly playing with the shirt covering his face, during an epic drum solo. Barker has been catching headlines for being seen in Auckland with wife, Kourtney Kardashian, but for me, the headlines should all be about how incredible he is on his transparent, yellow kit.

I suspect someone told Mark about the rivalry between NZ and Oz, because while in Melbourne the cry was, “Fuck Christchurch,” a gig there cancelled to add injury to insult, while in Auckland the invective was, “Fuck Australia!” More emotionally, Tom DeLonge touches on the band’s storied past, explaining that Mark survived cancer, Travis survived a plane crash and he survived quitting the band.

Basically, they make a brilliant, loud, aggressive pop-punk noise. There was even a Ramones cover, Gabba, Gabba, Hey. Let’s go! There’s a sense of humour to the band that is seen in the cartoons, the banter and the song lyrics. The mosh pit is underway and while there isn’t one big mosh, there are smaller and more violent ones breaking out on the main floor. In the stands we’re stomping our feet and the group of guys next to us who have discovered their friends are bro-ing down.


Most of the songs are chants that the crowd can get their hooks into and the noise is loud enough that I can already hear the high-pitched ringing in my ears that indicates future deafness. It’s like a rock concert, but everything is bigger with a more is more attitude to everything. The cartoons are brilliant. Well crafted stories, videos, and images like iconic science fiction motifs and ironic medical films about the dangers of being a punk. I wonder if we all need to be way more high to truly appreciate them as a wave of marijuana smoke wafts past from a very surreptitious smoker I can’t see.

Travis sings a full-noise shouty thrashy punk song before the band launches into some emo sounds then sing alongs of their most popular songs where all the ride or die fans know all the lyrics and don’t waste any time singing, “Done waste your time on me / You’re already the voice inside my head.

There’s an encore after Say it Ain’t So, and What’s my Age Again, of One More Time. It’s a short one song encore, but we earned it with all the yelling and clapping and shouting for the band. It’s an incredible stage show by still popular musicians, skillful and at the top of their game. Should Blink-182 play here again I would fully recommend you see them one more time, again.

Andra Jenkin

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Chris Warne


Rise Against:

Blink-182 Setlist:
  1. Anthem Part Two
  2. The Rock Show
  3. Family Reunion
  4. Wendy Clear
  5. Feeling This
  6. Violence
  7. Up All Night
  8. Reckless Abandon
  9. Dumpweed
  11. EDGING
  13. Aliens Exist
  14. Happy Holidays, You Bastard
  16. Stay Together for the Kids
  17. Down
  19. Bored to Death
  20. I Miss You
  22. What’s My Age Again?
  23. First Date
  24. All the Small Things
  25. Dammit
  26. Encore: