Wow. The performance by Green Day at Philadelphia’s Liacouras Center last night was nothing short of magnificent.  At the intimate 10,000-seat venue, Green Day, led by singer-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, treated the full house to a nearly two-and-a-half hour display of raw energy.  If Billie Joe was any worse for wear following his recent stint in rehab for alcohol and prescription drug abuse, it didn’t show.
 
The pop-punk trio, complemented by three touring musicians, led off the evening with the endlessly infectious 99 Revolutions which lends its name to the 2013 tour.  The band then provided a march through history rather than focusing on the recently released Uno!, Dos!, and Tre! albums.  In fact, Green Day seemed to have a solid grip on the best offerings from the good-not-great trilogy,
performing Oh Love, Stay the Night, X-Kid, and Brutal Love, in addition to 99 Revolutions, while leaving behind the more questionable material.
 
Following the opener, Green Day moved into Know Your Enemy, the only song of the evening that would come from 21st Century Breakdown, the album that sharply divided Green Day’s following into those (this writer included) who found the album to be a masterpiece of epic proportions and those
that longed for a return to Green Day’s three-minutes-and-done roots.

In between calling for the crowd to swing its arms, thrust its fists, and mimic his vocal crooning, Billie Joe Armstrong and his colleagues blasted out clusters of songs that represented largely the best from each of their albums.

In going back to its early years, Billie Joe gave a nod to JC Dobbs, the seminal South Street bar in Philly that Green Day played in the early 1990’s when it was just getting started.  After dedicating Burnout, from 1994’s breakout album Dookie, the band ran off five more from that era including J.A.R.All by Myself, Dominated Love Slave, Going to Pasalacqua, and Brain Stew before returning to more recent times.  During the country-kitsch Dominated Love Slave, Tre Cool came from behind the drums to play guitar and sing while Billie Joe Armstrong handled the drumming, further demonstrating the enormous talent of the musicians.  Mike Dirnt capably pounded out bass rhythms all night long.

Following Brain Stew, Billie Joe jumped into one of the evening’s highlights, a powerful rendition of St. Jimmy that at times recalled Billie Joe’s alter ego from the stage production of American Idiot, and
at other times, of Jesus himself as Green Day’s front man stood on a platform, arms stretched outward from his shoulders, being worshiped by his flock.
 
Over the course of the evening, Green Day treated the audience to generous portions of its most commercially successful albums, Dookie and American Idiot.  The band ran off When I Come Around, Longview, Basket Case, and She, back to back to back to back, before launching into the comically-delivered but high-powered King for a Day, off of Nimrod.

Minority closed out the set before Green Day returned to the stage for its encore. Appealing to the crowd, still on its feet and screaming for more, an American flag alit on the stage’s electronic backdrop and the opening guitar riff signaled the arrival of the expected, but highly anticipated American Idiot. Green Day followed up with its opus and perhaps greatest work, Jesus of Suburbia
Next, nearing exhaustion, the audience listened quietly, transfixed, to the eminently soulful Brutal Love from Tre!, during which Billie Joe showed off his vocal range. While  he didn’t quite hit the highest notes from the recorded version of the song, it was perhaps not unreasonable after two-plus hours of singing and calling to the crowd.

Billie Joe returned to the stage with his acoustic guitar for a final sendoff, Good Riddance, the perfect cap to a tremendous performance by a tremendous talent. Billie Joe’s appreciation for his fans
shows in everything he does and is just one of many reasons why there is no band today that can touch Green Day.

Michael Scott Miller is the author of the novels, Ladies and Gentlemen…The Redeemers and The Book of Sylvia.
 


Comments

04/18/2013 13:49

It sounds like a tremendous show, Michael. I now wish I made the 2.5 hr. trek to Philly. It wasn't until I saw American Idiot on Broadway in 2011 that I understood how 21st Century Breakdown meshed with its predecessor. Earlier this week I watched Palladium's feature "Quatro" which focused on the making of Uno, Dos, Tre without going into the details of Billy Joe's recent problems. Rolling Stone did a comprehensive job of that a couple of months ago.
Thanks for the excellent review of the live show. I'm looking forward to your next novel.

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