LAS VEGAS — "Motherf---, sh--, f---." Those were Blink-182's first words to the fans on Thursday night at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, two songs into the first show on their massive summer reunion tour.
They were spoken by Mr. Thomas DeLonge — who really has a flair for that type of thing — and, if anything, they served notice that though he and his Blink bandmates might have gotten older, spent nearly half a decade apart from one another, launched various side projects and clothing lines, starred in reality-TV programs, started families and become godfathers of a scene they never intended to create, they really haven't changed a bit.
And that was basically the theme of Thursday night's show, which despite a few extra bells and whistles (not to mention a rotating drum kit), was just a really great Blink show at its heart. Nostalgic it wasn't. Goofy, funny, loud, raucous, self-effacing and profane it most certainly was.
Opening with "Dumpweed," from 1999's breakthrough Enema of the State, then launching headlong into "Feeling This," from their final, self-titled disc, Blink showed no signs of rust or nerves — this was, after all, the kickoff of their first tour since 2004. Rather, it was like they had just emerged from a time capsule, perfectly preserved. DeLonge still battered his guitar (and slurred the words like crazy), Mark Hoppus still struck at his bass (and pogoed a lot), and Travis Barker still bashed his kit (and didn't wear a shirt).
They played a copious amount of hits (after DeLonge's opening salutation, "Rock Show" was followed by "What's My Age Again?," "First Date" and "Adam's Song"), and some lesser-known stuff ("Not Now," "Going Away to College," "Anthem Part Two"), all of which were eaten alive by the sweaty, throaty crowd. Oh, and the between-song banter? Well, let's just say they never lost a step in that department, either. It bears mention that nearly 90 percent of the stuff was unprintable, but some PG-13 gems on this night included Hoppus launching into a longwinded parody of Waylon Jennings' narration on "The Dukes of Hazzard" before stopping and proclaiming, "I'm 37, by the way ... fart!" and DeLonge running through about 15 different scenarios in which the audience could have sex with various members of their family.
This is not to say that the whole show was one continuous pee-pee-and-poo-poo spiel. Blink also proved that with age comes the ability to flat-out play, and they showcased their chops on a variety of show-stopping numbers, including a long, jammy take on "I Miss You" and a moody version of "Stockholm Syndrome," which started ominous and somber, then mutated into a gnarly exercise in shredding.
Barker also got his chance to shine, in the form of an extended drum solo that saw him pound away to remixed versions of tracks like Jay-Z's "Dirt off Your Shoulder," while his drum kit whirled around in ever quickening 360s (sadly, we didn't get the full, "Barker and his kit soar over the audience" version on this night, since the Hard Rock was too small a venue). That, too, was greeted with thunderous applause and many camera phones held alight.
Barker's pyrotechnic display came right after Blink had finished their set. His bandmates then re-emerged from backstage to rip though a taut, retro-leaning encore: "Carousel," from their '94 Cheshire Cat debut, and — of course — "Dammit," from '97's Dude Ranch. It was the latter that the kids in the audience had been clamoring for, and when its speedy opening chords hit, the crowd went bananas, moshing as best they could, thrusting fists in the air and crowd-surfing with abandon.
Then, as the feedback was still washing over the stage, DeLonge stepped back to the mic, searching for a perfect way to end the night. This is what he came up with:
"You guys are so f---ing cute! You're so godd--- sexual! I don't really know what to say. Masturbate!"
It was a nice bookend, really. Some things never change.