Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Live Review - Green Day @ MSG

It has been seven years since I last saw Green Day. In that seven years the world and music around the band has changed drastically, the last time I saw them they were playing Jones Beach with Blink 182 and Saves the Day on the Pop Disaster Tour of 2002. Now, seven years later, they stand alone in the first of two sold out concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden. As pop punks from California, Green Day have morphed into a social and political musical powerhouse, the world and issues facing it have changed this band for the better. Taking their message of religious hypocrisy, political and social awareness, anti-war stance, the band marched into form last night and exploded like a cannon ball into an unsuspecting crowd. Combining the best of the punk band's that paved the way for them, Green Day's combination of the volume of The Ramones with the consciousness of The Clash and theatrics and intricate sound of The Who make them apt pupil's learning from their teachers. Opening with "21st Century Breakdown," and "Know your Enemy," they marched through a close to three hour set of non stop hits and non stop energy. Singer Billie Joe Armstrong would run into the crowd, or take super soakers and T-Shirt cannons and wale them into the crowd, while drummer Tre Cool would run around on stage like a clown when given the opportunity. While they are a great band that are now singing serious songs, they still know how to have fun, because first and for most Green Day are entertainers. They make the fans feel welcome and make them feel like they get their monies worth and in this economy that goes a very long way. It was hit after hit durring the band's tour de force set, rampaging mostly through their last two albums 21 Century Breakdown, American Idiot and their 1994 breakthrough Dookie, they found room for other big hits like "Brain Stew / Jaded", "Minority" and obscure fan favorites like "2,000 Light Years Away."
What I remembered from the first Green Day concert I saw those seven years ago was the band's ability to connect to their audience by inviting fans to come on stage and sing a few bars, to strum a few chords. They did it again last night but in a much bigger fashion, nervous fan after anxious fan would be invited up to do the same, yet the highlight of this was a teenage girl named Stephanie who arrived on stage to play the 13 1/2 minute "Jesus of Suberbia" on guitar. In an age when video games are substituting for garage bands, it was refreshing to see a teenager grabbing an axe and knowing what to play. One of the single most memorable experiences I ever witnessed, I was so proud of this young girl for playing the song note by note and I had no idea who she was. Yet, that is what the band does, a band of outsiders who are now one of the biggest bands in the world make each audience member and fan feel welcome into their arms.
Opening for Green Day were England's Kaiser Chiefs, a band that cracked it big a few years ago with the single "I Predict a Riot," were the perfect opener for the California Kings they were supporting. Playing only for 30 minutes I wished they were on longer, a band that has so many songs that are easily recognizable it is a shock they are not as big here in the US as they are in their native land. The Kaiser Chiefs were terrific only adding to an already magnificent bill.