Thursday, July 30, 2009

Live Review: Green Day, 7/25/09, Albany

This is unacceptable.

As I worriedly look around the landscape, it appears as though I may be the last man standing among this grandiose attempt at musical blog stardom. Or something.

Here is an admittedly half-assed attempt to at least get one post in the month of July.

Green Day, Saturday, July 25, 2009, Times Union Center in Albany, NY: Within the first few days home from college, it was just a lazy Monday afternoon at home. By chance, I turned on my favorite local radio station, WEQX, and long story short, I won two tickets to Green Day before they went on sale. Shit like this simply does not occur every day, so I try to rub it in people’s faces when I am presented the opportunity.

Unnecessary back story aside, The Bravery opened their last show of the year for Green Day at this show. They garnered attention not quite by blowing the audience away, but by instilling utter confusion in the fans that were there. During “Believe,” a half-dozen men and/or women in various animal suits stumbled upon the stage, doing distracting acts as the supposedly surprised band attempted to continue their set. It is simple and slightly juvenile, but sometimes those types of things are what garner laughs, especially from an opening band in front of many anxious Green Day fans.

Those fans were certainly not disappointed. From the first song right up until the end, Billie Joe made absolutely sure that the band/audience bond was always there and that everyone was into the set. It grew a bit thin toward the end, however, with his obnoxious “ALBANY!!!” screams in almost literally every song that it became like clockwork. It is also fun to do the “call and respond” interactions prompted by the band, but by the umpteenth time, reluctance to participate starts to settle in. Regardless of the overuse of these clichés to keep an audience into a show, the band was simply energetic and entertaining for the entire duration of the stunning two-and-a-half hours that they played.

Considering that it was, after all, the 21st Century Breakdown tour, it is apropos that they play some cuts from their latest, decent album. They frontloaded the set list with new tracks, and delved into a variety of favorites for the rest of the show, a solid mixture to keep new and old fans alike entertained. The large screen behind the band corresponded to most of the songs played, which was a nice touch but somewhat expected for an arena show. At a few major points of the show, extremely loud pyrotechnic explosions occurred, some of them fitting (e.g. the “bang bang” of “Bang bang goes the broken glass, man” in “Holiday”), others just startling.

The coolest part of the band’s successful attempt at maintaining a bond with the audience even at a big arena show was having several fans on stage at different parts of the show. Billie Joe sounded like a pedophile as he requested a small child on stage, only to get “stage shot” as the loud explosions went off and the kid fell over pretty believably as if he had been shot. Later on, during fan favorite “Longview,” three different fans sang the three verses of the song after a thorough search by Billie Joe. Even cooler, during the impressive five-song encore, Billie actually had a girl play guitar during the standout, nine-minute-and-change “Jesus of Suburbia.” That type of opportunity for fans is unforgettable, and it is great to see a band as big as Green Day still do things like that.

The song selection was pretty solid, again touching upon all of the requirements and big hits, and performed with sustained enthusiasm while maintaining accuracy and clarity. They covered The Isley Brothers’ “Shout”, leading to the band wearing costumes, all of which was a fun change of pace in the show.

As much as it makes total sense to do so, closing with “Good Riddance” rubbed me the wrong way. After a long, energetic show, “Jesus of Suburbia”, the second song of the encore, was truly the encapsulation of the night, a long, engrossing epic of sorts. However, slowing it down at the end for “Last Night on Earth” and “Good Riddance” to be performed acoustically and solo by Billie Joe can definitely be construed as the perfect capper and change of pace for the show. Maybe it is the painful ubiquity associated with the song that annoyed me or something, but idle musings aside, it did not detract one bit from the show.

Green Day have come a long way from their humble punk roots (the random Woodstock ’94 banner trotted out during a post-’94 song certainly was a humbling reminder), and are now playing big arena shows with their brand of pop-punk. Say what you want about their recent musical endeavors or about their large-scale notoriety, the band can still connect with its audience even in a big venue. A second-to-none live presence coupled with an entertaining mix of songs certainly led to one of hell of a show.

> Full set list via


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