Saturday, 11 February 2017

Green Day - O2 Arena, 08/02/17

Image result for green day 2017
The Interrupters were a fun start to the night, but when you've heard one ska punk band you've heard them all. It has a distinct sound, but the aspects that separate it make it almost impossible to differentiate between the bands that play it.
They're lucky to have Aimee Interrupter at their helm. You don't often find female vocalists in the genre, and that gives them an edge. Her gravelly voice is appealing, similar in tone to the legendary Joan Jett, so she's bound to appeal to Green Day's older fans.
Aimee sings wonderfully and is a blur of overflowing energy during the songs, but it's guitarist and backing vocalist Kevin Bivona who gives the band a heart. Between tracks he filled the silence, chatting to the audience as though they were old friends, not a crowd that needed to be charmed. He begged people not to leave after their set, joking "The band who're on after us are pretty good. I think they might be able to make a career out of this!" and dedicated 'Babylon' to a fan called Adam, who received a parking ticket after they performed an acoustic set at Banquet Records in Kingston the night before.
During 'Babylon' all kinds of madness broke out: various characters dancing across the stage, one of them even brandishing a cowbell. As soon as the song finished Kevin jokingly started shooing the troublemakers off stage, before quipping, "I want the one with the cowbell to stay up here, though. That sounded fresh!". No one was too surprised when one of the stage invaders was revealed to be Billie Joe himself: a simple yet effective end of tour prank.
Before 'Family', the band thanked Green Day for taking them on tour and dedicated the song to friends of theirs who were in attendance (including London indie-pop band SYKES), sharing that they "could not think of a better way to end the tour". If they've been this much fun at all of the dates, they're going to have impressed a significant amount of people. Early in the set Kevin shouted, "I think I can speak for the whole punk rock community when I say there is no room for any racism, or any sexism, or any form of religious bigotry," and I don't think there was room for anything but appreciation from the crowd towards The Interrupters.

A Friend Like Me
By My Side
White Noise
Take Back The Power
She Got Arrested
Haven't Seen The Last Of Me
Easy On You
Sound System cover

Despite being a band for over thirty years, 2017 has seen Green Day become more relevant than ever.
It's the only thing we can thank new US president Donald Trump for: his fascist, racist and sexist beliefs have sparked a widespread political interest in the general public. Now the masses are educating themselves on government, they're hungrier than ever for figureheads who aren't afraid to speak out.
Billie Joe Armstrong is one of those people. He penned 'American Idiot' during the time of George Bush, but it's ridiculously easy to apply to the recently elected reality TV star. Trump might not have any direct control over the British public, but that doesn't stop us from disliking the guy: just look at the amount of people throughout the UK who protested and petitioned against him getting a state visit.
If for any reason there were supporters of the 45th president in attendance, they would have walked out after the second song. Billie Joe led the audience in a rousing chant of "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!", effortlessly conducting the voices of thousands to a crescendo.
If they hadn't walked out then, they would have been hard pushed to stay after 'Holiday'. The band were only four songs in to a mammoth 29 song set, but Billie Joe didn't hesitate, whipping the crowd into a frenzy and encouraging everyone to "Stand up and be heard. I wanna hear your voices!" before repeating, "No Trump!" until every person in the room was repeating it back to him. He bode his time until the shout was as loud as possible, before announcing, "The representative of England now has a voice," his vocal as he continued the song almost inaudible over the cheering his statement elicited.
Billie Joe is the quintessential frontman. It's impossible to find someone more suitable for the role. Yes, he's talented - not many singers can perform for nearly three hours, and even less can do it while playing guitar, sprinting up and down a platform projecting into the crowd and being political - but there's so much more to it than that. It comes down to something very simple.
He's human.
Billie Joe Armstrong is a legend, and that's not debatable, but he still feels like an underdog. Introducing 'Letterbomb', he told the crowd, "Tonight is about freedom. [...] I wanna hear from all the weirdos, I wanna hear from all the freaks, I wanna hear from all the people who've had someone tell them that they were a piece of shit." Green Day's policy of acceptance and tolerance is obvious from their complete dismissal of Trump, but when Billie Joe reflected, "Man, I was a fucking weirdo too, when I was a kid," it was a vulnerable moment that comforted anyone in the crowd who'd ever felt like an outsider. He quickly cracked a smile, quipping, "Guess what? I still fucking am!", but that just made him even more endearing.
He practices what he preaches, too. As one of the biggest rock stars on the planet, it would be easy to forget about the little people, but Green Day are a band who appreciate their fans and show them in every way possible. They invited three members of the crowd on stage to perform with them throughout the night, even giving a guitar to the person who went up to jam with them on their cover of Operation Ivy's 'Knowledge' - that's not an inconsiderable gift! The guy who went on stage to sing 'Longview' with them was definitely a highlight: he bounced around the stage in his Superman hoodie, making the most of every second. If he doesn't have a band, he should definitely start one.
This was the Revolution Radio tour, so they played a decent-sized chunk of newer material throughout the night. I still think 'Youngblood' is too repetitive, but the rest of the songs indicate a band back at the top of their game. Green Day were accused of having a crisis of identity following the release of their album trilogy back in 2012 (meaning it wasn't too surprising that no songs from 'Uno!', 'Dos!', or 'Tre!' made it into their set) but they've bounced back sounding better than ever on 'Revolution Radio'. It's a return to form, their polished and political pop-punk perfectly primed to redeem them in their fans eyes and guarantee them chart success.
This was the first time I'd been down in the crowd at an arena show (I'm a big fan of sitting, don't judge me!) so I need to take a moment to talk about how amazing the crowd were. They were actively participating but everyone that I was stood near was so respectful: I didn't experience any unnecessary pushing and shoving, and even during the rowdier songs things didn't get too violent. I'm a pretty nervous person and I've been in some bad crowd situations in the past, so I was really grateful that the crowd was so mature.
Green Day aren't one of my favourite bands - they have a very extensive back catalogue and I still need to take the time to explore it - but this was one of the most fun nights of my life. I was so absorbed in their set that I almost forgot to make notes for this review, and that doesn't happen often! That's the thing with legendary bands: you don't have to know all of their songs to be able to have a great night. It's impossible to not enjoy a Green Day show, especially when they've got a saxophonist performing a solo of George Michael's 'Careless Whisper' and a lengthy medley filled with classics you can't help but dance to mixed in with all of their own material.
The band are coming back to the UK to play British Summer Time in Hyde Park. If you don't already have your tickets I'd recommend buying them soon: I can't imagine it'll be long before the mini festival sells out.

Know Your Enemy (ft. fan)
Bang Bang
Revolution Radio
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Longview (ft. fan)
2000 Light Years Away
Hitchin' a Ride
When I Come Around
Christie Road
Are We The Waiting
St. Jimmy
Knowledge cover (ft. fan)
Basket Case
King For a Day (ft. 'Careless Whisper' saxophone solo)
Shout/Always Look on the Bright Side of Life/Teenage Kicks/(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction/Hey Jude/Shout medley
Still Breathing
Forever Now
American Idiot
Jesus of Suburbia
Ordinary World
Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

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