01 June 2013 (gig)
02 June 2013
Green Day have been through an interesting time of late. The promotion of their new trio of albums ‘Uno! Dos! Tré!’ was cut short due to Billie Joe Armstrong’s stint in rehab. Their return at SxSW was deemed to be one of the best sets in the festival’s history. The three album set has been well-received, but not as ground-breaking as fans may have hoped, and not the return to their ‘roots’ that they band had perhaps overpromised. So this is an interesting time to see the band return to the UK for the first time since their secret gig at Shepherds Bush last year, with three new albums worth of material to fit into a classic back catalogue.
Before the main event, there are of course the support acts to check out. All Time Low are very much from the school of pop-punk that bands like Green Day, Offspring and NOFX helped to establish. Sadly, much that came in the wake of these three great bands has been at best average, and All Time Low appear to fit very comfortably into this very average bracket. Still, they got the kids down the front warmed up, so perhaps job done.
The Kaiser Chiefs fared a lot better, being the token British band playing to the British crowd, although the headliners have acknowledged their admiration for Ricky Wilson’s ‘Angry Mob’. It is always nice to be reminded why they were so big a few years ago, with songs like ‘Every Day I Love You Less And Less’, ‘Ruby’, ‘I Predict A Riot’ and a killer closing ‘Oh My God’ really warming up the crowd for the headliners. On any other day, this would probably have been a show-stealing set.
Green Day’s set started before the band made an appearance. Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and The Ramones’ ‘Hey Ho, Let’s Go’ ringing out over the PA got the first big circle pits going of the day and two HUGE sing alongs. But the crowd were at the Emirates to see one band and one band only. Bursting on to the stage with new track ’99 Revolutions’, this felt more like a homecoming show than a stop off on a world tour. A storming ‘Know Your Enemy’ from the highly underrated ‘21st Century Breakdown’ ups the energy levels again. Two more soon to be classic cuts from the triumvirate, ‘Stay The Night’ and ‘Stop When The Red Lights Flash’ are welcomed like decades old classics, and it’s clear that this is a rejuvenated Green Day, a Green Day who are out to show exactly why a band that made their name with three chord perfection are still the greatest live band on the planet.
What follows is a list of classics, new and old, that also helped the crowd bonding together as one. A Green Day crowd are made up of people of all ages, sizes, colours and walks of life. Hardcore punks standing next to 60 year old grandparents, all going crazy for songs that have long been deemed as legitimate classics in any lists. ‘Holiday’, ‘Nice Guys Finish Last’, ‘Burnout’ and ‘Sassafras Roots’ meld perfectly with newer cuts ‘Stray Heart’ and ‘Missing You’. When the band play ‘Welcome To Paradise’, 70,000 voices sing along, basically giving Billie Joe the chance to rest his voice with the crowd doing his job for him. ‘Knowledge’, the Operation Ivy cover, a track not played by the band over here for a while, gets a very welcome airing. ‘When I Come Around’ and ‘Basket Case’ from ‘Dookie’ sends the crowd into ecstasy. ‘King For A Day’, the band’s ode to cross-dressing (of course, every band should have a long this in their repertoire) leads, as always, seamlessly into their ‘Shout/Satisfaction/Teenage Kicks/Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ mash-up. A rousing ‘Minority’ closes the main part of the show, before the band return to encore with ‘American Idiot’, a sensational ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ and closing track ‘Brutal Love’ from ‘Tré!’, during which Billie Joe looks close to tears, as is most of the crowd.
The fact is that Bille Joe Armstrong, Mike Durnt, Tré Cool, Jason White, Jason Freese and Jeff Matika (yup – they’re not a three-piece anymore – not for a long time!) aren’t the greatest musicians in the world. They write some great songs, but nobody will every claim ‘Longview’ is the greatest song of all time. But what they do, better than any other band in the world, is put on a phenomenal show. They get the crowd whoaahing a lot (perhaps a little too much, but that’s a very minor gripe), the sing alongs are immense. You also believe them when they say that this is the country they enjoy playing the most – most bands who play here say that, and you can say that is more than likely a bit of hot air. But when they post on twitter, instagram and facebook that their set was the greatest night ever, you believe them.
A Green Day show, more than anything else, is FUN. And that, more than any light shows, water cannons, toilet roll shooters or t-shirt guns, is what makes them THE GREATEST LIVE BAND ON THE PLANET. If you get the chance, anywhere, go see them!