There are some bands that just have it live. Green Day one of them. Mixed reactions to their new material has been something they’ve dealt with for a long time aloft stacks of cash and massive crowds, so with a slightly jarring prospect of the incoming Triple Album of ‘¡Uno!’, ‘¡Dos!’ and ‘¡Tré!’, the band are on a whistle-stop end-of-2012 world tour.
Tonight, this tour stops at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, one of London’s most famous theatre venues. The show sold out in five minutes not two days ago, and with a £50 price tag with no support, the crowd were expecting A LOT. One key thing to note… there weren’t any standarounders here. It was a pure Green Day fan audience (Hayley Williams was there OMFG), and the atmosphere was electric.
In a traditionally silly start, drummer Tré came out, apologised and proclaimed that Billy Joe had laryngitis before starting things off with ‘All By Myself’. As the rest of the band joined the stage, the crowd was soon whipped into a frenzy.
What followed was two hours of stadium sized rock packed into a relatively intimate setting. The list of Green Day “classics” is about as long as the longest arm of a guy with two long arms, so there’s never space for all of them, but any of the band’s showings from ‘Dookie’ still get a huge reaction. It’s hard to believe that album is 18 (yep) years old now, especially as it doesn’t sound that old at all, and there’s such a distinct difference in the approach to a song like ‘Know Your Enemy’ that followed ‘Welcome To Paradise’ and ‘Burnout’ tonight.
The new album songs tonight are largely crammed together, and though it’s good to see the band get the hard promo push out of the way, it does take the sting out of the atmosphere at little. The new tracks conclude for now with the recently released ‘Oh Love’, and a trio of tracks from ‘American Idiot’ go down a storm. All the while, Billie Joe Armstrong’s vocal is ridiculously strong, and there’s absolutely no doubt that the band are one of the tightest punk bands to have ever done it. It’s amplified in a venue like the Empire, and it’s amazing to watch regardless of which track it is.
From here, the 1-2-3-4 of ‘Hitchin’ A Ride’, ‘2000 Light Years Away’, ‘Going To Pasalacqua’ and ‘Brain Strew’ is intense, and tonight is swiftly turning into the show that it promised to be when it was announced. It’s hard to imagine Green Day logistically being able to do what they do now in a smaller venue than this, and renditions of classics ‘When I Come Around’, ‘She’ and ‘Basket Case’ bring the house down with a huge singalongs (wheeyyyy–oooos aplenty).
Then, around the time that ‘King For A Day’ kicks in (stilling carrying the Benny Hill theme tune) with saxophone solos, an more wehhyyy-oooos, the smiles on the crowd are broad and toothy. The covers medley that simultaneously wasted classic “hits” time while also gaining the only boo of the night for an attempted rendition of ‘Hey Jude’ (if anyone is wondering – that song is dead to the UK now after the Olympics) was unexpectedly brilliant for the latter’s boo alone, and as the silliness concluded with an extended version of ‘Minority’ and an encore of ‘American Idiot’ and ’99 Revolutions’, the crowd left sweaty and satisfied.
All in all, every member of Green Day is a born entertainer, and the show had everything it should have had and more: crowd members on stage doing parts of songs, super soakers, paper streamers, general silliness, big singalongs and bit hits. A classic Green Day performance in a setting that they’ve not been seen in for a long time over here, and one that proved the band have created a legacy that barely any bands in the history of punk can boast.
Please note: The Spotify playlist is as close as possible to the gig but some new songs could not be included, and ‘American Idiot’ tracks were combined with others in places due to Spotify’s track break up of the album. Text list below is from Setlist.fm and 100% accurate.
All By Myself
Welcome to Paradise
Know Your Enemy
Stay the Night
Stop When The Red Lights Flash
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Hitchin’ a Ride
2000 Light Years Away
Going to Pasalacqua
When I Come Around
Give Me Novacaine
King for a Day
Shout / Teenage Kicks / Stand By Me / Hey Jude