Following "American Idiot", easily their best album since 1994's "Dookie", Green Day have catapulted themselves back into contention, and we were up for a gig from this seemingly revitalised band of snotty punks. After one false start on tickets, Rachel secured some late-release production tix, so we were all set for this sell-out arena show. Hit the venue at 7 and joined the queue after a slight car park panic, quickly realising I'd be one of the oldest punks in town for this one! A lot of kids - including early teens! - were here, some accompanied by parents who also looked younger than me!
Support New Found Glory were on at 7.30, energetically bounding onstage and pedalling an amalgam of brash nu-metal riffery and surf-skate punk which went down well with the kids but seemed too generic for my tastes, and also suffered from echoey sound in this large hall.
The place filled up as Showtime grew near, then a chap in a pink bunny suit bounded onstage (!), brandishing a Green Day poster and leading the kids in a "Green Day! Green Day!" chant. Then the unmistakable strains of the Ramones classic "Blitzkrieg Bop" hit the PA, with the bunny leading the "Hey Ho Let's Go!" chants. Following this, the house lights went dark, and Green Day came onstage to the "2001: A Space Odyssey" theme and a chorus of "whoo's" from the WWE fans in the audience!
Straight into a venomous "American Idiot", a statement of clear intent which was followed by 3 other numbers from the LP of the same name. Marilyn Manson was right - George Bush getting elected US President is bad for their country, but sure is good for rock'n'roll. This event has obviously inspired Billie Joe Armstrong's bile and vitriol into creating a stunning, varied and important statement. "Jesus Of Suburbia" was typical; musically stealing from such sources as the Alarm's "68 Guns", Bryan Adams' "Summer Of 69" and Bowie's "All The Young Dudes", the message of protest was paramount, vivid and stunningly delivered.
After 5 numbers and a bolshy "Longview", the mood changed, as if Green Day felt they made their point so decided to have some fun. The audience participation ranged from sing-along's and "whoa-hoh" chants, but extended to dragging 3 kids onstage to take over their instruments, before a blistering "Basket Case", accompanied, as was much of the set, by a searing lightshow, flame-throwing pyrotechnics and fireworks blasts from the stage. Spectacular, true, but perfectly paced as well. Following more "whoa-hoh"s (a little too many for my liking) and a punked-up version of Lulu's "Shout", the lights dimmed for a gut-wrenching "Wake Me Up When September Ends", dedicated to Johnny Ramone, and my highlight of this set.
Following a 1 1/2 hour set, encores were capped with a superb "Time Of Your Life", which underlined the excellence of the set, as did Billie Joe's exhortations to the audience to take control of their own destinies. From being a band that we had no interest in, "not any more," as recently as last year's Reading Festival, Green Day have capped a remarkable revival. They matter again.