added: 11 Sep 2013
// gig date: 24 Aug 2013
reviewer: Marnie Wood
Emerging last month from a month long outpatient rehab program for alcohol and prescription drug abuse, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong received a scorching welcome from the crowd at Reading festival. The veteran grimy pop punk heroes packed the main stage to maximum, bringing by far the largest crowd to the main stage of the festival.
Armstrong looked healthier than previous years, yet the on stage antics were perhaps slightly toned down due to the lack of booze. Still, a toilet roll gun, water hose and t-shirt shooter all made an appearance. Unusually, drummer Tré Cool and bassist Mike Dirnt were quiet, leaving Armstrong to rally up the crowd.
The band opened their set with a barrage of tunes from their recent albums Uno, Dos and Tré to the delight of an audience eager for the softer rock of Sunday’s Fall Out Boy and Biffy Clyro. Before Blasting through ‘American Idiot’ classic ‘Letterbomb’ Armstrong delivered a strong message to the crowd about technology. The frontman warned fans about the corrupting powers of social networking and corporations, and it couldn’t have been done on a more perfect night, fans really let go at this point and the crowd erupted as if Armstrong had reminded them to life live to the full.
As a homage to last year’s secret performance the band then played 1994’s Dookie in its entirety, to mark what will soon be the 20th anniversary of the record that broke the band.
Hardcore fans went wild to hear the tunes that first got the twenty-somethings into the band. Armstrong’s ‘blue’ guitar made an appearance throughout the Dookie stint of the set and the energy of a 20 year old Armstrong emerged from the 41 year-old, reminding the older festival-goers that it’s ok for music to take you back to youthfulness.
The backdrop of the Dookie album artwork (Richie Bucher) was a stark contrast to the dazzling lightshow and amazing technology involved in the show. Some fans may lament the loss of the grit, grime and cheek of the ‘old’ band but the combination of tracks from new albums Uno, Dos and Tré with classics like ‘Welcome to Paradise’ and ‘Burnout’ was perfect and really represented the way Armstrong and company have matured in recent years through engaging with politics and raising families.
The ‘heyhos’ and ‘yeahhhs’ that ring out from every Green Day show may be criticised by some to be repetitive and predictable. Yet they united a crowd mixed with hip hop fans, indie kids and rockers; leaving every single festival goer questioning whether they may hold a place in their heart for one of the world’s most prolific rock bands.
Preceding their ‘last gig for a long time’ at Leeds festival. It is hard to imagine a long period of festival line-ups and arena shows lacking one of the most energetic and respected bands of the last 20 years.
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