Montville, CT - 4/6/13:
Punk impresarios Green Day recently came through Mohegan Sun Casinos Arena in Connecticut. Fans young and old came out to enjoy the set. Many were here on one end of the ball field with all that rancor and discord nothing more than a distant memory. Others were still living it and caught up in the moment.
Following the opening act, Best Coast, who you can read about separately here, the energy in the arena began to swell. “Bohemian Rhapsody” hit the PA and the whole house began singing along with Freddie Mercury’s tender missive. The swooning chords of Brian May’s guitar line and our individual personal affiliations with the song did not get in the way of the shared experience. It would not be the last time a similar energy would take up the room.
With the house lights still up the playful “drunk Easter Bunny” alighted to the stage to the further scoring of the Ramones “Hey Oh Let’s Go.” Without further ado, Billie Joe, Mike, Tre and their backing musicians came blazing to the stage in a furious swooping energy.
They opened their set with “99 Revolutions,” and Billie Joe commanding the audience, “Let's go crazy!” He is still as full of energy and enthusiasm as a child on Pixy Stix. It would not be the last time he would challenge his audience to push themselves further, get engaged, and live the moment.
During the bridge of “99 Revolutions” he asked for the lights to be brought up and he started a wave. Speaking almost like a dictator or a fraternity brother he derided us all; “This is not a fucking computer! This is rock n roll!”
Even though there were many younger people in the audience, the fact that “Green Day” has been playing music ¼ century is not lost on the lead singer.
“Tonight this is all we fucking have right here,” he reminded us. “There is no school!” He lingered on that for a second before quickly adding “…there is no work!” He hopefully realizes that even those who were born in 1993, Green Day's breakout year, likely are out of or nearly out of school and have work obligations.
There was a moment during “Letterbomb,” when the lyric “It’s not over till you're underground,” seemed to evoke something in him. Perhaps his frustration with his own mortality. Perhaps something else. Who knows but when he squeezed the microphone from his hand and flung it to the orchestra pit offstage, he had a moment. A stagehand quickly brought out a replacement and Billie Joe acknowledged it.
“Everybody's got a moment when it’s not fuckin perfect,” he mused. “Fuck perfect! Give me some trauma give me some hurt.” A cheer erupted from the audience, “…you know what I'm taking about!”
There were moments of candor and moments of scorn, but for the most part he was the audience’s biggest cheerleader. He kept yelling out “CONNECTICUT!!” and engaging the crowd by holding up his guitar in one-armed punk defiance.
More than once an old school moshing session got underway in the middle of the floor level audience. This one kid kept thrashing and shoving people and it would go from just him, to 8 or 9 to 20 or more and then to no one. It was quite entertaining.
Billie Joe had people coming up to sing at various points during the night. But one of the biggest audience sing-alongs of the night was the first verse of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” He set everyone up for it and when we all responded with eruptions of melody he just got down on his knees and kissed the ground to the audience as though he were praying to Allah.
He stood up, smiled, and said “Life’s not pretty but it sure is beautiful.”
It was right around this time that the band went into a mash-up session of cover songs. They started out with “Shout,” by the Isley Brothers, which led into “Time is On My Side,” and “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones, and another arm waving sing along to “Hey Jude,” before circling back to the "little bit louder now" portion of "Shout."
After two full hours of breaking us down and making us question ourselves, our motives, and our whole reason for living our lives, Green Day were done with their set. One of the last songs they played was “X-Kid” which includes the lyrics:
“Hey, little kid did you wake up late one day?
And you’re not so young, but you’re still dumb
And you’re numb to your old glory, but now it’s gone.”
And when Billie Joe repeated the lyric, “here goes nothing, the shouting’s over and out over and out again,” a reasonable guess would have been that the show was over right there.
Maybe just to stick a flag in the turd they played a little longer. That is the message which Green Day carries with them on this their 20 year anniversary of songs from their debut album. We will be done playing when we are done playing.
And we will all still be here, your loyal followers, listening until that time is up.