I used to think it was impossible to make an arena show feel intimate. It’s one of the biggest downfalls of being a hugely successful punk band. You miss out on the crowd interaction that makes going to shows at dive bars and VFW spots so much fun. But Green Day has always been able to defy the impossible.
The Berkeley-based band, arguably the most successful band to ever spin out of the punk rock scene, has a knack for making places like the 16,000 capacity MGM Grand Garden Arena, one time home to the likes of Barbara Streisand and Fleetwood Mac, feel like a cozy spot, thanks to constant crowd interaction.
The band kicked off their impressively long set with “Know Your Enemy,” a bouncy highlight from their 2009 album 21st Century Breakdown. Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, whose snotty voice sounded as great as it ever has, pulled a fan up to take over lead vocals for the song’s second verse and that fan certainly impressed the crowd, electing wild cheers by jumping off drummer Tre Cool’s riser and mimicking Armstrong’s trademark chant of “Heyyyyyy yooooooo.”
This wasn’t the only fan who made an impression on stage. Another young audience member got the chance to join the band, which also features bassist Mike Dirnt and rhythm guitarist Jason White, to sing lead on the band’s breakthrough single/masturbation anthem “Longview” and another took over guitar duties from (and took a selfie with) Armstrong for the band’s cover of “Knowledge,” originally performed by Green Day’s Gilman brethren Operation Ivy.
The band felt like they were out for redemption from the get go, as the venue was home to Green Day’s infamous iHeartRadio performance that derailed their “Trilogy” tour five years back. And they definitely succeeded, playing a fast and tight set that included hits like “American Idiot,” “Basket Case” and “Minority,” deeper cuts including “Burnout,” “2,000 Light Years Away” and “King for Day,” and a smattering of tracks from the band’s recently-released 12th studio album Revolution Radio, with a large version of the album’s burnt stereo cover adorning the massive wall behind the band throughout the bulk of their set. Though surprisingly, nothing from the band’s multi-platinum Insomniac was played on this night.
In direct support was Florida punk rockers Against Me! While it was disappointing to see the lack of sing alongs (I forgot how big the difference between “punk big” and “mainstream big” are) it was cool nonetheless to see a song like “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” from the band’s full length debut being played on such a massive stage. The band sure has come a long way since playing that song at the Skillet Café and I couldn’t be happier for them.
Outside of “Pints” and White Crosses single “I Was A Teenage Anarchist,” the set focused on tracks from the band’s most recent two albums, Transgender Dysphoria Blues and Shape Shift with Me. “Rebecca,” “Crash,” “Black Me Out” and “Dead Friend” all sounded fantastic and while it was fun to watch the band thrash about on stage like they were having the time of their lives it was even better hearing frontwoman Laura Jane Grace tell her story of being inspired to start her band after seeing Green Day as a kid and thinking how many people who came out to this tour will be doing the same.
If even a fraction of them do, we’re in for many more years of great music.
Photos by Anthony Constantine | https://www.facebook.com/anthonycphotography
Green Day setlist:
Bohemian Rhapsody(Queen song)
Blitzkrieg Bop (Ramones song)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Ennio Morricone song)
Know Your Enemy (fan invited onstage to sing a verse)
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Longview (fan invited onstage to sing a verse)
2000 Light Years Away
Hitchin’ a Ride
When I Come Around
Are We the Waiting
Knowledge (Operation Ivy cover) (fan invited onstage to play guitar)
King for a Day
Shout / Always Look on the Bright Side of Life / (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction / Hey Jude
Jesus of Suburbia
Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)
Against Me! setlist:
True Trans Soul Rebel
Haunting, Haunted, Haunts
Pints of Guinness Make You Strong
Delicate, Petite & Other Things I’ll Never Be
I Was a Teenage Anarchist
Black Me Out