by / October 22nd, 2009 /

Green Day – 02, Dublin

It’s not a long way from the White Horse pub on Georges Quay to the O2, a couple of miles at most. You could easily walk it. In fact many of the crowd who greet Green Day‘s return to these shores with a response beyond ecstatic probably hurried past it this wet Autumn evening, unaware of its place in the band’s history. Billie Joe Armstrong certainly remembers their appearance at a Hope Collective Saturday afternoon at the venue (then known as the Attic) in 1991, when people couldn’t dance for fear of the floor collapsing onto the pub below.

Green Day’s journey across the Liffey and down towards the docks has taken them some eighteen years and through a number of very different guises – underground punk rockers, mainstream punk rockers, washed up ex-pop stars and now the intelligent face of American stadium rock. Which Green Day will we get tonight? As it turns out, a little bit of all of them, all mixed in with a spectacular stage show that puts most of the tours to pass this way to shame. It’s as if the pantomime has come to town early, with a riot of pyrotechnics, confetti, water cannons (yes, water cannons) and audience participation.

Like most pantos, however, we’ve seen a lot of these tricks before. On the American Idiot tour, to be precise, which visited the Point in early 2005. Open with a chunk of new material? Check. Follow it up with the older greatest hits? Check. Wrap yourself in the Irish flag and lead the crowd in a chorus of -ole ole’? Check. Get a member of the audience up on stage to join the band? Oh yes. There’s no doubting that Green Day, and Armstrong in particular, give their crowd value for money. Charging around the stage for the full two and a half hours of their set, he is forever cajoling and engaging with the O2 – be it through constant singalongs, dropping his trousers, firing t-shirts into the crowd and generally mugging it up while the five other musicians cover the gaps. He’s a charismatic presence alright and when it works – as when they get two fans up to sing -Longview’ – it’s great entertainment. Over the course of a whole evening, however, it does start to feel like the enforcded jollity of an office Christmas party, with Armstrong as the prankster who is desperate for the guests to have a good time, all the time. This approach reaches a nadir on their extended, silly hat wearing medley of -King For A Day / Shout’ (which again they’ve been peddling for a while now). That’s fine for the likes of NOFX, Less Than Jake and the other cartoon punks but Green Day should have a lot more to offer.

It seems to be a recurring problem for the band, just which version of Green Day should be leading the pack. There is a definite desire to stay in touch with their past (at one point a montage of old punk flyers seeks to put them in the context of contemporaries Fugazi, Operation Ivy, the Beatnigs and the rest) and they certainly connect with their past material in spectacular fashion, even as far back as Kerplunk (-2,000 Light Years Away’). Whereas last time out the songs from Dookie sounded a bit thin in when played as a three piece, tonight sees Green Day do them justice – helped no doubt by the superb sound. Yet that was then and the band are at their most interesting when dealing with the now. The opening salvo of -21st Century Breakdown’ and -Know Your Enemy’ aside, the material from the new album doesn’t quite hit the mark. The representations from American Idiot, however, are stunning, the point where Green Day bring their various elements together – the rage of youth directed in a more meaningful direction, a musical maturing and that ever present knack with a melody. The most political they get, apart from the impressive images projected on the huge screen, is when Billie Joe wipes his arse on a U.S. flag thrown on stage but it’s these songs that have, so far at any rate, defined them as a band.

So it’s not the perfect night, although it does have some nearly perfect moments. What Green Day don’t have yet is the ability to stop you dead in your tracks, as with many of the bands from the big league that they aspire to join. They come close, but something is holding them back – hence maybe why they chose to dress up their show with all manner of unnecessary high jinks. The world has shown that it’s willing to accept the new, grown up Green Day on record, surely they should have the confidence in us as a live audience as well? The dilemma is crystallised by the show’s finale, a spine tingling solo version of -Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’ from Armstrong. The spotlight fades, our night has closed on an undisputed high. Until that is Tré Cool emerges from the wings to pull a few funny faces and hurl some drumsticks into the crowd. The moment is lost and a night of not inconsiderable bangs and crashes ends with a confused whimper. Sometimes you just have to accept that it’s time to grow up.

Photo: Stephen McLeod

  • paul buckley

    I was at green day last night myself,and afer reading your review of the gig,I have to disagree with you,I’ve seen green day for the third time (last to was at the point in 05 and oxegen that same year) and last night was the best it has been out of the three.There hijinks as you called it adss to the show,if they just came on and didnt throw some fun into the show you might aswell just go to a teeny pop concert were everything is done according to who has set the whole thing up,were as a green day gig,you don’t no what your going to get from them.

  • I saw them in Milton Keynes a few years ago (and a couple of times before that), and the show hadnt changed much then, it sounds like it hasnt changed much now, either. Dont get me wrong, it’s a great show, but there are some bands I want to see again and again and again, and Green Day are no longer one of them. As much as I hate to say it, it is getting more than tad predictable, and it’s not a film or a piece of theater, so that’s just not good enough. Especially when it’s startingt to sound like even the mixing up of the setlist is pretty minimal (there’s hardly a lack of material to choose from, personally I’d love to see them play a bit more ‘Warning’, though no doubt most disagree). Shout/ King For A Day is *minimum* five or six years old now, as are the accompanying outfits. They’ve closed with Good Riddance every one of the three times I’ve seen them, always solo too. And the ‘ole’ thing – equally old – is just a bit lame. I love them as a band, but it’s high time they shook it up. A lot.

  • Ok, I definitly have to totally disagree with this review! How can you say they need to grow up?! The day everyone realises they need to grow up is the day they stop performing sell-out shows every night! The place was packed last night, the crowd loved it and I had the most amazing time of my life ever. Those guys definitly know how to put on a show, and last night’s show was awesome! The crowd participation only added to it, and the guys really worked the stage. They played some seriously classic songs, which were unexpected, like ‘2000 Light Years Away’ and ‘She’, aswell as their new ones! Every performance of every song was amazing! Anyone that says otherwise obviously doesn’t appreciate the band.

  • Patrick Conboy

    ” Anyone that says otherwise obviously doesn’t appreciate the band”

    Alicia, in fairness that’s a pretty ridiculous statement.

    After reading the review, it’s obvious that Phil didn’t think it was a bad show at all… just that Green Day should change the format of their live shows, which have become very predictable for anyone who’s seen them several times over the past few years.

  • Paul, if you think every moment of this gig was spontaneous and unplanned I’m afraid you’re well wide of the mark. Yes some of it was highly entertaining but as choreographed as any pop show.

    Alicia, the reason that Green Day are playing shows as big as this is that their music did mature and they found a new approach to their punk rock template, something that tried with the Warning record but didn’t quite pull off. Don’t forget at that point they ended up supporting Blink 182 and playing mid bill at Witnness.

  • sadb

    I disagree! Green Day were amazing last night. No band compares to them. As one of the fans (the first) onstage to sing longview, I can tell you.

  • Now THAT was something that worked really well, as I said. Good work.

  • sean c

    That they’re still closing with a solo ‘Time of Your Life’ proves that musically that havnt produced anything original or worthwhile in a decade. A great band perhaps and no question that the show is one of the most entertaining around, but they’re about as inventive as a dog with a spanner.

  • Abbie

    Wow Have To Disagree
    Not Only Were They Amazing But They Really Had True Dedication
    Unlike Some “Artists” These Days The Came On Stage With A Huge Smile And Didnt Leave Until Everyone Else Had One Too.Respect Your Review But Personally They Were Far Better Than Any Other Act Live.Its Obvious They Love Their Music And Fans And Sorry But You Were Way Off. They Sang All The Major Hits And Truely Put On An Amazing Show.Hope They Come Back Soon.I Guess There Not Everyone’s Cup Of Tea =)

  • I actually think all the ‘disagree’ posts are totally missing the point. No one said they’re not good (they’re great), just that they’ve been doing the same thing for an age, and it’s getting a bit old…

  • Allan

    I’m seeing both sides of this, i’ve seen them every time they have played since 02 in witness, the small show in the ambassador in 04 the point and oxegen in 05 and last night, Every show bar the first 4 songs or so is following the exact same format maybe it comfortable and they know it pleases the crowd but i would like to see them play more obscure songs from their back catalogue. But you also have to take into account they are touring the new album so maybe they feel they cant play around too much with the setlist as was the same in 05 they where touring american idiot.

    Maybe next time after this years oxegen/slane whichever is the big rumor they might do one of their own gigs in marlay park or phoenix park without the pressure of supporting an album and mix it up a bit

    It was a great show but knowing that after they do
    Basketcase, She is followed.
    King for a Day/Shout
    Brainstew/extended play with supersoakers and bog roll gun/Jaded
    See the setlists from the gigs i’m talking about below and notice the resemblence in them espeacially after longview *bar the 04 gig*

    2002 Witness Setlist

    Maria
    Longview
    Hitchin’ A Ride
    Brain Stew
    Jaded
    Knowledge (Operation Ivy cover)
    Basket Case
    She
    King For A Day
    Shout
    Waiting
    Minority
    When I Come Around
    Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)

    2004 The Ambassador *warm up gig for Reading/Leeds before the release of American Idiot

    American Idiot
    Hitchin’ A Ride
    Knowledge (Operation Ivy cover)
    Shout (The Isley Brothers cover)
    Danny Boy
    Dancing With Myself (Billy Idol cover)
    Christie Road
    Only Of You
    I Fought The Law (The Clash cover)
    King For A Day
    Minority
    Brain Stew
    Jaded
    Welcome To Paradise
    Geek Stink Breath
    Longview
    2000 Light Years Away
    When I Come Around
    Holiday
    Basket Case
    We Are The Champions (Queen cover)

    2005 The Point

    American Idiot
    Jesus Of Suburbia
    Holiday
    Are We the Waiting
    St. Jimmy
    Longview
    Hitchin’ A Ride
    Brain Stew
    Jaded
    Basket Case
    She
    King For A Day
    Shout (The Isley Brothers cover)
    Wake Me Up When September Ends
    Minority
    Encore:
    Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
    When I Come Around
    We Are The Champions (Queen cover)
    Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)

    2005 Oxegen same as above except they had Maria in place of When i Come around.

  • I have supported this band since day one. I have seen them live numerous times. I guess the whole debate depends on whether you are a hardcore fan or not. I for one have enjoyed every show immensely and thought last nights show was the best so far. As it neared the end I was almost disappointed when “Time of your Life” wasn’t played & after 2 acoustic solos it was diminishing but what a way to end. For some of the newer fans they must have found the show to be really entertaining. My thoughts as an old school fan are “don’t fix what is not broken”

    Oh btw my Chihuahua is a Dab hand at changing wheels.

    Wes

  • It’s not about how big a fan you are, I’ve loved the band since I was barely a teenager, back when they released Dookie. And I still think the music’s wonderful, but I just cant agree that its ok to play basically the same set every time I’ve seen them, even when those times are spaced out over many years. I mean if it was the same tour, I could write it off as just a little lazy, but this is over years! And they have a huge back catalogue to pick from, too… it’s like choreographed fun.

  • Judy W

    I haven’t come across a review of the 02 in London (last night) yet, so I hope you don’t mind me commenting on here. Basically, I agree with a lot of the review as it was so similar to the concert I saw in London last night. I haven’t seen the band before so I can’t compare with previous concerts, but for me, there was just that bit too much audience participation, silly antics etc. By the end, I was ready to leave and make a dash to the door before the throng, and wasn’t in the mood for a big bang crash finale. However, I was soon running back when I realised they were finishing their set with some of my favourite songs and sung beautifully.

    I think would consider seeing them again, but would prefer (especially with the pyrotechnics) to see them outdoors at a festival, and then I can wander off during the pantomime intermissions and return during the music (and yes, I do join in with the waving hand, singalong aswell).

  • Catherine

    I was at the concert in the O2 the other night and I really enjoyed it. For any band to come on and play for two and a half hours, note perfect and still run around and entertain as much as Billie Joe did well its hard to see why anyone would complain. In the bus back everyone was saying how much they enjoyed the show, those are the real reviews. Not one person had anything negative to say. They played the songs we wanted to hear, had fun with the audience and had an all around good time. Thanks Green Day for a great night.