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[img=043012_bjamd2001.jpg]Ten years ago, in July 2002, I saw Green Day for the first time. There's an impression amongst certain Green Day fans, some of whom perhaps weren't around to see it, that the years leading up to American Idiot saw the band become a greatest hits act, a group who could only attract the most loyal and longstanding members of their fanbase to their shows. This is, of course, rubbish.

The day I went was the first of a two-night residency at Wembley Arena where they would play to over twenty-thousand people. The year before, they were second headliners at Reading and Leeds Festivals. American Idiot, of course, afforded the group the opportunity to play stadiums, or massive former clay-pits in the case of the Bullet in a Bible shows, but before that they were a huge act, and had been for ten years.

Anyway, it's too soon to get into tangents - my experience is entirely unrelated to how many fans the band had at that time. I myself wasn't even a fan of the band then - I only went to accompany my 12-year-old sister who had become something of a fan herself after the Warning album. We'd both seen their videos on MTV2, but I'd written the group off along with 99% of the crap that the channel showed; lots of Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach, as I recall. She stuck with them, bought a couple of albums and dragged me along to the gig, at my insistence that we get seated tickets so I could have a rest if the show was rubbish.

The gig itself was, for me, oddly forgettable but the pieces I do recall are as thrilling now as they were then. Of course, it doesn't help that I wasn't overly familiar with the tunes. The opening band The Crush rang about as many bells as 90% of the Green Day set-list did, but what made it great was how fun the show was to someone as uninitiated as myself. It might even have helped that we were so young. Billie Joe played the kids entertainer brilliantly, with super-soakers, pyrotechnics and confetti bazookas on hand when the call-and-response stuff had worn thin, and I'm sure if any other band had the dubious honour of playing to so many people under-16 they would have failed miserably. It's not punk and it's certainly not cool, but Green Day are genuine all-round family entertainment.

It didn't take me long to get into the band after this. There were about 4 bands I got into around this time, the others being Reel Big Fish, blink-182 and, forgettably, SR-71, but Green Day, with their deeper back catalogue and more serious approach to music, was the one I would return to time and again. They had a song for every emotion and, as an adolescent, I sure had plenty of emotions swirling around. I took up bass guitar pretty much just so I could learn songs from American Idiot and drove my family nuts as I practiced the bridge from Holiday over and over again.

Eventually, music, and especially Green Day's music, started to consume my entire life. I joined the GDA forum (now GDC but it I shall never recognise the name-change) in late 2002 to communicate with other fans and even made a cursory attempt to look 'punk', which everyone should have to do if only so they have something of their teenage years to be embarrassed about. Mercifully, I didn't have the money or the patience to carry on with this insane look so a life of tunnel piercings and love/hate tattoos never materialised.

Other Green Day shows have come around for me, arbitrarily puncturing the last few years as I saw the band headline Reading, play the big Milton Keynes show and showcase new material in a small pre-release show for 21CB in Cologne that took me around most of Western Europe in a couple of days. As long as they're still going I'll still make a point of going to their shows. My continued investment in the band is the least they deserve for accompanying me since I was 14.

Most people have a soft-spot for the first bands they adore. Like a first love, you think it'll last forever but, inevitably, your tastes change and evolve. This happened to me and, if you're a 16-year-old in the throes of a passionate affair with the Nimrod album, it will probably happen to you too. Like all people over the age of 21, I now listen almost exclusively to Steely Dan, Genesis and Elton John. However, on the ten-year anniversary of that first show I'll reel in the years, stick International Superhits on and sing along to my favourite tunes like I've done so much since that show.

Written By: Joey (former GDC mod). Folllow him on Twitter @thisisjoeyc.
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