Green Day storm Reading Festival 2012 with unannounced set

Pop-punk legends play early-morning performance

Photographer:Peter Corkhill

Chris Eustace - 25 August 2012

With little prior notice, the news of the exact time of the heavy hinted performance remained a closely guarded secret until half an hour before the show. Many early risers were treated to songs from 'Dookie', 'American Idiot' and their forthcoming album trilogy, '¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré!', but the crowds were soon controlled and thousands of festival-goers had to be kept behind barriers as the stage was isolated from the rest of the arena for health and safety reasons.

Read our full review of the show below.


Festival Republic may have laid on free breakfast baps for Reading’s early risers, but their biggest breakfast treat came this morning, as word spread like wildfire around the campsite that yes, Green Day were playing today, and that everyone had better get there quick.

Sure enough punters were ushered into the Arena earlier than normal, to be greeted by the message ‘The surprise you’ve been waiting for will start at 11am’ on the Radio 1/NME Stage’s video screens. The Green Day drum kit was sitting up on the stage, and in case anyone was still in any doubt, bassist Mike Dirnt sprinted across the stage ten minutes before the band were due on.

"Morning, Reading! Welcome to the worst-kept secret ever!" Billie Joe Armstong said with a smirk, after an opening ‘Welcome To Paradise’ had finished causing pandemonium. Suddenly, getting up early at a festival seemed like the best idea ever, with turbo-charged versions of ‘Murder City’ and ‘Know Your Enemy’, with Armstrong inviting a fan, introduced to us as Adam, onstage to help sing the latter

Armstrong had a glint in his eye when he said “We’ve only got an hour, something tells me we’re going to go overtime!” before giving new song ‘Stay The Night’ its UK festival premiere. Harking back to their ‘Dookie’ days, its catchy chorus was pretty apt for this morning: “Stay the night/’cause we’re running out of time.”

Another new song and radio favourite, ‘Oh Love’, continued the stadium-friendly chants of ‘21st Century Breakdown'’s best songs, and while we don’t get ‘Dookie’ in full as rumoured, we do get opening track ‘Burnout’ before Billie Joe, having pinched a white peaked hat from the baying audience, performed some bizarre loose-limbed dance moves, ending with a classy moon to the crowd.

He wasn’t finished giving us love yet either, blowing kisses to the crowd before ‘Letterbomb’, while the usual call-and-response games were deployed throughout. After a few trademark, sergeant major-like ‘Hey-o’s, he beamed: "This is why I love England, the Americans just don’t get s*** like this!"

While he also found the time to fire a water pistol and toilet roll into the crowd, the band were clearly racing against the clock, with ‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams’ abandoned after its intro to make way for ‘Longview’ instead. Billie Joe didn’t keep his eye on his watch for very long though, defiantly bawling "I’m going to play for as long as I fucking want!" before launching into Basket Case and American Idiot, with a  chaotic ‘Wall Of Death’ ensuing at the front at the singer’s request.

That would have been a superb ending, but thrillingly we weren’t done quite yet, with a thumping ‘Minority’ and a final burst of ‘She’ closing an explosive set. An “I was there” set that people will either be boasting about being at or lying that they’d got up in time for for years to come. Hopefully this "surprise" breakfast set is the start of a new Reading & Leeds tradition.

Your move, Kasabian, but you can’t help but feel that today’s true headliners were the band first on.


Welcome To Paradise
Murder City
Know Your Enemy
Stay The Night
Oh Love
Hitchin' A Ride
Brain Stew
St. Jimmy
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
Basket Case
American Idiot

Click here for our full Reading and Leeds coverage.

We want your Reading and Leeds reviews!

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and reply to our review posts with your thoughts, insights, opinions and full-on reviews.

Send tweets to us with your reviews or comment on our Facebook page, or in the comments section below with your thoughts.

This isn’t about getting nasty if you don’t agree with our journalists, but an opportunity to leave your own appraisals, with the best ones getting published on the site.

So, what are you waiting for? Let us know your thoughts!


Related Artists

Related Events

Hide Search Results

Festival Search


All Festival Tickets