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Sep 8, 2011

REVIEW: A pop-punk two-fer in St. Paul

The official corporate name of Wednesday's pop-punk double-whammy with Blink-182 and My Chemical Romance at Xcel Energy Center was the Honda Civic Tour. A better title might have been The Luckiest Drummers in the World Tour.

After a five-year hiatus rife with animosity, '90s MTV stars Blink-182 patched things up in 2009 following a tragic small-plane crash that nearly killed drummer Travis Barker (but claimed the lives of four others).

That Barker is still around to tour at all is a near-miracle.

And then there was My Chemical Romance's heavy-hitting timekeeper Jarrod Alexander, who -- no kidding -- just landed the job over the weekend. His presence, too, must've been a relief to his new bandmates. The anthemic New Jersey pop-punk group abruptly fired Mike Pedicone on Friday when he was allegedly caught stealing from the road crew.

Alexander didn't miss a beat Wednesday, and his band didn't miss the chance to upstage or at least rival the headlining Blinksters when it came to the reception from the school-night crowd of just over 5,000 school-age fans.

My Chemical Romance has one of mainstream rock's most charismatic frontmen, Gerard Way, who masterfully worked the stage in his pink hair and Billie Joe Armstrong-meets-David Bowie strutting energy. His band also has some of the best sing-along hits for angsty teen fans to raise their voice.

Songs like "The Only Hope for Me Is You" and "Helena" boasted soaring choruses that sound Def Leppardian in an arena setting, but were also still punky enough for crowd-surfing. The highlight of MCR's hourlong set was the vaguely boogie-woogie-ish rocker, "Teenagers," which could make any rock fan feel 15.
Blink-182's 90-minute set was equally teen-flavored, but that flavoring felt a little sour considering that the band members are well into their 30s. Co-vocalists Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus should at least stop making lewd sexual jokes about female audience members who are half their age.

Nonetheless, the crowd still ate up the youthful act. The forever-juvenile mega-hits "All the Small Things" and "The Rock Show" went over big. The Blinksters dropped in a few tracks from their new record,
"Neighborhoods" (out Sept. 27), which showed a more serious and seriously hard-rocking side. The best was "After Midnight." But it was difficult to take them too seriously when Barker showed off his own new contribution to the band: a giant, mechanical arm that swung his drum kit over the crowd Tommy Lee-style during his solo.

Wednesday's show also raised the bar -- or lowered the standards? -- with its rampant corporate sponsorship by Honda, AT&T and more. The advertisers came out as fortunate as the drummers.


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