05 November 2009
"This is not a fucking tea party, this is Green Day in London!" incites a wild-eyed and clearly energised Billy Joe midway through 'Holiday'...
Tonight is the last night of the UK leg of their world tour at a sold out Wembley Arena and with no two Green Day gigs being entirely the same, you can never be sure what to expect from the Californian natives.
Before the show gets underway, a lone six foot pink rabbit haphazardly staggers from a side curtain with bottles of beers clinking in both hands. After finding its balance at centre stage, it downs the frosty beverages one at a time in quick succession to the cheers and amusement of all in attendance. The intoxicated bunny, overcome by carnal urges, ungracefully struts its stuff to ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’ (complete with genderless crotch grabbing action which would of made the late, great MJ proud) and The Village People’s ‘YMCA’ and then finally disappearing to whence it came in search of a carrot kebab and chips.
The arena fades to black as a gravely ‘Song Of The Century’ is played over the sound system but it’s no match for the 12,000 strong in attendance, screaming in anticipation as a New York skyline lights up the stage. Greenday abruptly race from the back to their starting positions as fans jostle for key positions at the front knowing that crowd interaction is a major part of their show. As Tre cool counts the band in for their first live number ‘21st Century Breakdown’, session musicians take their place at the far ends of the stage effectively making this trio into an 8 piece for a much more fuller sound.
Buzzing like solar powered dildos on a sunny day, Mike Dirnt and Billy Joe pace the stage and never stray too far from their newer material as they work the congregation before them for the first half dozen songs. With tunes such as ‘Know Your Enemy’ and ‘Give Me Novocaine’, Green Day are on fire, yet they’re the ones spraying down the crowds with super soakers and hoses between songs. Members of the audience are plucked at random and are invited to stage-dive back into the sea of bodies, but not before some of the cheeky fans steal a hug and a kiss from their hero Billy Joe, who is openly encouraging such acts. The Green Day frontman doesn’t even shy away from one male fan who goes for a full on tongue sandwich and is seen giving the clique a distinct thumbs up whilst going for a playful reach around. Both the band members and the audience are quite simply, having fun.
There are, however, moments where more serious issues are raised as political overtones become apparent. Green Day are well known for using their music as a vehicle to convey their anti-government messages to the people. Tonight is no exception. Using backing screens for that same purpose, Billy Joe asks “How Godless of a nation are we?” whilst images of Jesus bleeding from the eyes pops up next to American cross’ and gas masks whilst bombs drop on cities during ‘East Jesus Nowhere’. Thankfully, the message isn’t pressed home and doesn’t dampen British spirits.
Covers of Billy Idol’s ‘Dancing with Myself ‘ and AC/DC’s ‘Highway To Hell’ are blended effortlessly into ‘When I Come Around’ and ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ as pyrotechnics burst, dazzle and amaze at short, sharp intervals. Billy Joe demands for the lights to be turned off so that he may shine a torch powerful enough to illuminate sections around the entirety of Wembley whilst also causing temporary blindness. “I want to bottle you all up and take you back to America,” declares Billy Joe as if he’s said it a dozen times before.
23 songs into set, Green Day launch into their unmistakable up-beat ‘dead-beat’ classic ‘Basket Case’ and the reaction is surprisingly shocking. The American pop punk band have been around for almost 20 years and so seeing merchandise-clad teens moshing shoulder to shoulder with their parents isn’t a surprise, but this disturbing lack of response to a song that put Green Day on the map is disheartening. The three-minute song comes to a clean finish and Billy Joe proceeds to drop his trousers to reveal a pair of pasty white buttocks causing the now hysterical female contingent to swoon.
The trio now look to recruit a “new band” to take over their musical duties on stage so that they may continue to entertain the throng below “the only way Greenday can” causing a stir at the front. Three lucky gig goers are picked and go on to perform using the band's instruments as Green Day leave the stage and return with t-shirt guns, more super soakers and a state of the art ‘bog roll’ gun. Tre Cool - now wearing a brazier - is chased around the stage in comedic 70’s fashion by session musicians as the ‘Benny Hill’ theme tune is played over the air waves. The group reclaim their instruments and continue the flow of music with an extended version of ‘King For A Day” involving verses from classic songs ‘Hey Jude’, ‘Shout’ and ‘Champagne Supernova’ and finally leading on to their last song, ‘Minority’. As the Greenday army sing along, it’s clear that we’re all in the palm of their hand.
After almost three energetic hours, Green Day stage two encores. The first showcases ‘American Idiot’ and ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ with both Mike Dirnt and Tre cool, but for the second encore, Billy Joe emerges from the curtain on his own for an acoustic set. Taking centre stage and starting with ‘Macy’s Day Parade’ and finishing up with the spine tingling ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’, it’s strange to see the frontman close the show on his lonesome without the rest of the band. The masses roar in appreciation as the final chord rings out, but you can’t help but feel the slight anti-climax of not seeing the trio one last time together, even with such a poignant song to end on. After such a lengthy event and a lot of arse scratching between songs, Green Day have come, seen and successfully conquered with a blinding show. With their 2010 stadium tour just around the corner, we’ll just have to wait and see what this iconic band have got in store for us next time round.
By Neil Stone.
Thursday 5 November :
Sounds like a gig I shouldn't have missed, nice review Neil x