When you go to see Green Day live, it’s not a concert…it’s an event.
For a whopping two and a half hours on Aug. 31, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong didn’t slow down for a single moment. Though the artist is now in his mid-40s and a father of two college-aged sons, he certainly hasn’t lost any speed. Rather, he may just be at the top of his game.
In a night of heart-pounding drums by the one and only Tré Cool, bass rhythms by Mike Dirnt and inspiring words of wisdom by Armstrong, Pennsylvania and New Jersey both became punk rockers at heart at BB&T Pavilion in Camden, New Jersey.
Anyone who has seen Green Day in the past knows that when Drunk Bunny hits the stage, it’s officially showtime. Stumbling around to the Ramones’ “Blitzkreig Bop,” a man (rumored to be Cool) in a pink bunny suit got the already hyper crowd even more excited. The suit looks as though it hasn’t been washed since the band’s American Idiot tour 12 years ago, but things just wouldn’t be the same without it.
At 8:30 p.m. sharp, Green Day hit the stage and opened with the powerful “Know Your Enemy.” Armstrong and his staple black and red ensemble, which continued right down to his bright red socks, were a blur as he sprinted across the stage to screams from the packed arena of fans.
The songs “Bang Bang” and “Revolution Radio” off of the band’s latest album Revolution Radio were next, followed by the classic Green Day anti-government tracks “Holiday” and “Letterbomb.”
During the latter, Armstrong addressed the crowd. Now, it’s no secret that the frontman isn’t exactly a fan of the country’s current and past Republican presidents, and has made his thoughts blatantly known on past tours. Whether he was feeling tame on this particular night or just wanted to switch things up, Armstrong was focused on positivity.
“Tonight we’re going to sing like no one’s listening and we’re going to dance like no one’s watching,” he shouted to the crowd. “There’s no time for tomorrow.”
Next up were “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Longview,” the Green Day classic about boredom, and “Youngblood.” Armstrong then asked who in the crowd is an “old school” Green Day fan before playing “2,000 Light Years Away,” a track off the band’s album Kerplunk! released in 1991. While the millennials had severe looks of confusion on their faces, the 40-plus year olds in the crowd were head banging like there was no tomorrow.
Green Day kept things in the ’90s punk era for a few more songs including “Hitchin’ A Ride,” which lasted almost 10 minutes as Armstrong pitted Pennsylvania against New Jersey to see who could scream the loudest, “When I Come Around,” “Welcome to Paradise” and “Minority.”
During “Knowledge,” a cover of the Operation Ivy track, Armstrong called a young fan named Andrew up on stage. This kid was the epitome of a fan, almost knocking Armstrong to the ground when he ran and latched himself around the singer’s torso for a hug. After a 10-second lesson of three basic chords, Armstrong placed the guitar off his own back around Andrew, who played with the band the rest of the song. He took full advantage of the opportunity, jamming alongside bassist Dirnt and running up the stage steps to hug Cool. As the song ended, the crowd chanted “Andrew! Andrew!,” something he will probably never forget.
A Green Day show is never complete without the production that is “King for a Day.” Donning pirate hats, masks and in Cool’s case, a tutu, the band and crowd were able to let loose during the high-energy, catchy number. Usually Armstrong will expose his bare backside to the audience several times throughout the song, but unfortunately the BB&T crowd didn’t receive that honor.
“King for a Day” transitioned into covers of “Shout” by the Isley Brothers, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” by Monty Python and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones. By the end of the third song, Armstrong was laying belly-down on stage spreading more positivity to the crowd.
“It’s a celebration,” he said of the concert, face resting on the stage. “No politics. No negativity.”
The band’s set ended with two more songs off Revolution Radio, the inspirational “Still Breathing” and “Forever Now.” But the show was still far from over.
During an encore performance, the anti-political anthem “American Idiot” received one of the biggest crowd reactions of the night…until Green Day played “Jesus of Suburbia,” a 10-minute long masterpiece consisting of five mini songs. Armstrong, Dirnt and Cool took their final bows and exited the stage, but as the crowd began to disperse to beat the parking lot rush, Armstrong was back, acoustic guitar in hand.
In a second solo encore, Armstrong strummed out a chilling “21 Guns” during which the power of his distinctive voice shone through. In typical Green Day fashion, he finished off with “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” the perfect ending. ••
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com