Last night, Green Day brought their long running American Idiot tour to Raleigh, NC’s RBC Center. It was more like a party than a concert. Singer/guitarist Billy Joe Armstrong commanded the stage and led the crowd through sing along after sing along. The band seemed more arena rock than punk rock, and that was good. They used plenty of pyro and Armstrong even ripped out some behind the head guitar solos and played with his teeth. They gave the large crowd more than a performance, they gave them a show.
Green Day kicked things off with a supercharged version of “American Idiot” that had the crowd going crazy. They kept things going strong with “Jesus of Suburbia” and “Holiday.” Of course when the band cranked into the hits from their breakthrough Dookie, the crowd couldn’t be contained. They sang along to every single word on “Basket Case” and “Long View.” They pumped fists, moshed and went crowd surfing. Only a couple of people ended up getting attended to by the medics.
Things soon got crazy during “Knowledge” when Armstrong decided that he wanted to form a new band on stage. He asked around for drummers and when one volunteered, he pulled the kid on stage and put him behind the kit. The kid nailed the simple beat and had great timing. They then pulled a bassist on stage that was pretty good, only fudging notes a couple of times. Finally, a guitarist was needed. Armstrong pulled a young girl on stage who claimed she could play the guitar. She couldn’t. She was sent off and another guy was pulled up. He walked right up and gave Armstrong a huge kiss on the lips and rocked out. This kid had it down. He ran back and forth across the stage and even commandeered a microphone to sing along. Finally, Armstrong pulled the non playing guitarist girl back on stage and gave her the guitar.
The set ended with a sea of cell phone lights and lighters blazing in the dark. Green Day pulled out a satisfying version of Queen’s “We are the Champions” that was debuted at Live 8. A confetti blizzard filled the arena during the last verse and all of a sudden it looked like a KISS concert. They came back to play the unreleased “Maria,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Good Riddance.”
The only thing that would have made this show better was less crowd interaction. Armstrong would lead the crowd through sing along chants in almost every song. It got old. In addition, the band neglected some of their better tracks (“Warning”) in favor of covers like the “Stand by Me/Shout” medley. The new single “Wake Me Up When September Ends” felt flat and uninspired.
Overall, Green Day put on an incredible show. They had the energy of a punk band and the showmanship of a veteran arena rock band. That’s a combination that’s quite rare these days. See this show.