April 7, 2009
Review by Ross Drake
Better Than: Standing on the sidewalk in the rain, openly pining for Green Day tickets
Arriving at the Independent quite unexpectedly for a surprise, sold-out show announced just hours beforehand, Green Day was everything you'd expect them to be - loud, punctual and exceptionally polished after a hiatus of nearly three years.
While the nearly three-hour concert was essentially a showcase for their new album, 21st Century Breakdown - which, from the sound of it, picks up right where 2004's American Idiot left off, with plenty of piano-heavy ballads and no small amount of socially conscious angst - longtime fans were treated to a raucous, boundlessly energetic set featuring trademark hits like "Longview" and "Jesus of Suburbia."
Sauntering onto the stage just a few minutes after 10 o'clock and promptly tearing through a muscular rendition of "Welcome to Paradise," the Berkeley-bred trio (who performed most of the evening as a finely tuned sextet, thanks to some accompanying friends) were sufficiently animated but, more than anything, consummately composed, rarely hitting a false note during their marathon workout.
If they seemed a bit too slick to qualify as punk, no matter. The mostly thirty-something crowd, who roared throughout, embraced the experience with open arms and raised fists, bellowing the lyrics to the band's most familiar numbers while maneuvering themselves into position for the perfect cell-phone snapshot during the new ones.
Personal Bias: Until American Idiot, I was prepared to write off Green Day as yet another casualty of the post-punk era. They seemed to be creeping into the dreaded realm of self-parody.
Random Detail: Billy Joe Armstrong hates flash photography, and isn't afraid to mention it.
By the Way: This was the band's first live performance in more than two years. Expect many more after the May 15 release of 21st Century Breakdown.