O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire in London, England
August 23, 2012
  • Secret show
  • The Telegraph: "Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day’s pocket-sized singer and guitarist, turned 40 earlier this year. That seemed scarcely credible before this low-key show, since he still looks like a delinquent cherub. It appeared impossible throughout it, as Armstrong spent three hours larking about as if he were a giddy teenager - mugging to, and at one point mooning at, his adoring audience. Musically, Armstrong and his band also appear to have entered a state of regression. Their set began with a brace of songs from 1994’s 15 million-selling album, Dookie - Welcome To Paradise and Burnout - both fizzing examples of their punk-pop prime. The next two, Nuclear Family and Stay The Night, might be from the first of three new records they will release during the next five months, but they sounded no different from the first - except, that is, for the fact that their choruses didn’t have quite the irrepressible appeal. There seems no escaping the past for Green Day. Next month, having played for a year on Broadway to no little acclaim, their American Idiot musical comes to the UK as part of a world tour. Their original American Idiot album of 2004 not only rescued them from a fallow period, but also took them beyond bratty three-chord anthems. It was a terrific record, bold and ambitious, and it suggested Green Day would continue to open up their boundaries. This unfulfilled promise hangs like a millstone around their necks. Further new songs such as Oh Love and Stop When The Red Lights Flash added credence to the notion that their imminent glut of records is more marketing gimmick than the result of a rich creative frenzy. Not that the packed Empire complained, each being greeted with a fervour that they barely merited. Yet Armstrong, pipe cleaner-thin bassist Mike Dirnt and goonish drummer Tre Cool are capable of much more, as they demonstrated on a pair of American Idiot’s most pulsating songs, Holiday and St Jimmy. On both, they dialled down the clowning and became a force of nature. There were other examples of Armstrong’s way with a stupidly exciting tune, such as Hitchin’ A Ride and the uproarious Minority. He is a shameless crowd pleaser too, at different points hauling two young fans up to play with the band, though his endless exhortations to massed chanting grew tiresome."
  • The Independent: "'Bad news, guys. Billie Joe has got laryngitis. But I’m here!' said drummer Tre Cool, taking centre stage before singing a solo rude version of All By Myself, thus setting the tone for an evening of nostalgic messing around. Frontman Billie Joe was just hiding, of course. It was with audible relief that the audience welcomed him, and he greeted us with a further two tracks from their 1994 breakout album Dookie, Welcome to Paradise and Burnout. Well into their third decade of filling arenas with screaming fans, it was great to see Green Day in the comparatively intimate 2,000-capacity venue. Having just revealed that they will play Dookie in full at the Reading festival over the weekend, the band seem to recognise the draw of their earlier material, bringing plenty of nineties tracks, some from American Idiot, and only a handful of new songs despite the imminent release of new album ¡Uno!. The band take advantage of the small scale to play with the audience: squirting us with a giant water pistol, sending reams of toilet paper spiralling out into the crowd and pulling front row revellers up onstage to take over vocals, and in one case, an entire guitar solo. Billie Joe remained zany as ever, conducting the crowd when he forgot the words and playing a Kazoo in duet with a saxophonist wearing a wizard’s hat. The frontman, now 40, is something of a Peter Pan figure. His skinny frame swathed in a teenage style t-shirt and skinny jeans, his jet black hair slightly too resonant of a Just For Men advert to be entirely punk. You could venture that their sound has stayed similarly defiant of time. The new material, notably Nuclear Family and Carpe Diem, contains the weighty anthemic threads that make Green Day’s rocky pulse so appealing, but seem devoid of the narrative clarity and humour that lent earlier material such endurance. The biggest yelps and shrieks of applause predictably greet When I Come Around, Basket Case and the encore American Idiot. Repeatedly whooping 'Hey oh!' dancing wackily, jumping off the amp box, standing on one leg, wearing a bent Burger King hat and showing his bum to the audience, Billie Joe has become something of a pastiche of his earlier self. It feels a bit Cabaret. But we remain captivated by the bizarreness nevertheless. And it’s a relief that their old trick of trashing the stage seems to have become passé. It’s one heck of a show."
Photos from London, England
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1. All By Myself
2. Welcome To Paradise
3. Burnout
4. Know Your Enemy
5. Nuclear Family
6. Stay The Night
7. Stop When The Red Lights Flash
8. Oh Love
9. Lady Cobra
10. Holiday
11. Letterbomb
12. Scattered (Partial)
13. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
14. Hitchin' A Ride
15. 2,000 Light Years Away
16. Going To Pasalacqua
17. Brain Stew
18. St. Jimmy
19. Give Me Novacaine
20. When I Come Around
21. She
22. Basket Case
23. King For A Day
24. Shout (Isley Brother cover) / Teenage Kicks (The Undertones cover) / We Are Young (fun. cover) / Stand By Me (Ben King cover) / Hey Jude (The Beatles cover)
25. Minority
26. American Idiot
27. 99 Revolutions
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