I’ve got to admit that I approached this gig with some trepidation. Having seen Green Day quite a few times over the many years of listening to them I’m well aware of their formula which, if you’ve seen them too, then you’re familiar with the pink bunny-suited person running around the stage, kids getting pulled up to either sing or play along with their heroes, the Operation Ivy cover, the King For A Day/Shout medley…overall it can get just a little samey. I appreciate that for many fans this may well be their first time seeing Green Day so I do understand but as a veteran of their live shows you pretty much know what to expect. Saying that, what you expect is a great live show and on that count Green Day still deliver in spades.
After the usual intro music of Blitzkrieg Bop by The Ramones, complete with bunny obviously, Green Day took to the stage to the strains of the theme from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and a deafening roar from the partisan crowd before launching in to Know Your Enemy, the first political pot shot to be fired tonight. It was explosive stuff and showed that despite their advancing years they still have that fire in their bellies. That fire is evident on the new album (which this tour is in support of) and it’s well represented tonight with the caustic social commentary of Bang Bang and rabble-rousing title track Revolution Radio following the opening salvo.
A massive cheer greets Holiday which the band storm through with renewed vigour, matched by the crowd especially during the chants of “no Trump” from Billie Joe. Just like the George Bush-inspired American Idiot it seems that the Trump administration is only going to be a good thing for punk. Soon after we get Boulevard Of Broken Dreams and the whole place becomes lit up as mobile phones twinkle from all sides of the arena. It was quite a sight to behold.
There’s no let-up in terms of energy from the band as they launch into the first of tonight’s tracks to come from the breakthrough album Dookie, which incredibly is over twenty years old now. Longview still sounds as good now as when first recorded before treating the more mature fans, by that I mean us old’uns, we also get 2000 Light Years Away from Kerplunk.
With a near three-hour stage time and plenty of classic songs in their repertoire we get Hitchin’ A Ride followed by When I Come Around causing near hysteria and a mass singalong. Having been playing large arenas for the past fifteen years the whole band know how to work a large room with Billie Joe in great form cajoling plenty of energy from the crowd and conducting the audience like the consummate showman he is. Minority was a wall of noise as the crowd screamed back what seemed like every word before we got the inevitable Operation Ivy cover, where once again a member of the audience was brought up to play guitar along with the band. It may be clichéd but it’s still a nice touch when they give the kid the guitar to keep and they leave with an incredible memento of the night.
Talking of the incredible, the screams that greet the intro to Basket Case were enough to turn the O2 into an outdoor arena as I swear the roof nearly came off and following that with perhaps my favourite song She left me grinning like the teenager that I was when I first heard Dookie.
After King For A Day with a gentle tribute to George Michael’s Careless Whisper we get a medley of hits that inspired the band, covering Monty Python’s Bright Side Of Life, Teenage Kicks and a lengthy, some might say unnecessary, repeat of Hey Jude with plenty of na, na, na na’s from the audience.
Everyone takes a bit of breather as we get a couple of tracks from the new album in Still Breathing and Forever Now before the moment a lot of fans here were waiting for as flame cannons announce the intro to American Idiot. Predictably the venue goes several shades of apeshit which doesn’t let up as the punk rock opera of Jesus of Suburbia follows, a song that is the closest I’ve heard to the bombastic pomp of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody (which coincidently was played just prior to the show starting). A sombre Ordinary World leads us in to the final song of the night, and one of the best end of show songs ever in Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) and the last chance for the crowd to sing along. As the final chord is struck a stream of confetti explodes from the ceiling showering the crowd in climatic fashion.
It’s a fitting end, as tonight was a celebration of sorts: the return of Green Day to their rightful place on the throne of pop-punk.