Review by Brady Deeprose
A sold out Brixton Academy, a dream for most bands, just another day in the office for Green Day. Announcing the show for fan club members, I managed to blag a ticket from a mate to what could be one of the most intimate shows Green Day will ever play again: a warm up for their headline slots at Reading and Leeds festivals.
Last minute persuasion from the band themselves got Frank Turner down to the venue as a support act, but I sadly missed his set due to some transport issues, which is unfortunate.
As soon as Blitzkrieg Bop is fired out through the speaker system, the crowd of diehards know what’s about to happen. Taking to the stage not a minute late, Green Day get straight into the swing of things with ‘99 Revolutions’, one of their newer tracks. For me, nothing the band has put out can hope to compare with American Idiot, more-so live with singles ‘Know Your Enemy’ and ‘Brutal Love’ paling in comparison to the absolute class of ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’.
Two songs in and Billy Joe had already plucked a teen from the audience, got him to sing a section of ‘Know Your Enemy’ and then made the kids life as he stage-dived and was crowdsurfed around for a good 10 minutes. After ‘Letterbomb’, we were ‘treated’ to a speech about love, stamping out hatred and the fact that ‘this gig is about joy and love and joy and love and joy and love…no war is allowed, no famine, no negativity.’
‘I wanna see you start a fucking war in this one’ opens Holiday, nearing double speed. I don’t have an issue with vocalists inciting violence (it’s a typical thing associated with aggressive music and no-one really does anything anyway) but after 10 minutes of preaching bollocks, to then say something like that is more annoying than anything else. After so long in the game, the tempos on the night were outrageous. Obviously, the thrill of playing live will always make songs slightly faster (assuming you’re not playing to a click, which Green Day clearly were not) but songs are recorded at a certain speed for a reason.
That aside, the big announcement of the evening was an interesting one. Due to its 20 year anniversary next year, Dookie was played in its entirety, a dream come true for the fanatics in the room. About half way through, even some of the most ardent fans seemed to be struggling. There are only so many four chord punk songs you can listen to in a row. All of this was forgotten when single ‘Basket Case’ came around and was enough to get me through the rest of the album.
Dropping straight into ‘St Jimmy’, one of the most entertaining performances, was a great choice and within moments, the band had the whole crowd back on side. The encore of ‘American Idiot’ and ‘Jesus Of Suburbia’ was the highlight of the evening, a band showcasing incredible song writing talent and pulling it of superbly live.
The overall sense from the gig however was one of sadness. Green Day are getting old, and it’s starting to get noticeable. It’s nothing major, it’s just the raw energy levels were fluctuating wildly, leaving me flipping between captivation and checking my emails. The band were definitely worth a watch and will be incredible this weekend at the festivals, but if they continue to write so-so pop-punk, that’s all they will be remembered for.
1. 99 Revolutions
2. Know Your Enemy
3. Stay the Night
4. Stop When the Red Lights Flash
7. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
8. Let Yourself Go
9. Wake Me Up When September Ends
11. Having a Blast
14. Welcome to Paradise
15. Pulling Teeth
16. Basket Case
18. Sassafras Roots
19. When I Come Around
20. Coming Clean
21. Emenius Sleepus
22. In the End
24. St. Jimmy
27. American Idiot
28. Jesus of Suburbia
29. Brutal Love
30. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)