Green Day hits the Garden

A review of Green Day at the TD Garden on July 20, 2009

, Contributing Writer

In one the most anticipated tours of the summer, rock veterans Green Day hit the TD Garden on Monday night. Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong wasted no time in telling the sold out crowd that they were there to rock. Just minutes into opener "21st Centurey Breakdown", Armstrong invited a few hundred fans to leave their seats and fill in some open space inside the general admission floor. From there, the band rocked a two-hour-plus show that touched all points of their catalog while keeping the crowd engaged at every point.

Green Day began the night by playing through the first three songs off their brand new album, 21st Century Breakdown. The band played cordless, allowing for maximum movement onstage especially for Armstrong, who constantly moved between the catwalk, the sides of the stage, and even into the crowd, exuding more and more energy the more he ran amok. Simply put, he has an innate ability to captivate a crowd. The band was backed by plenty of pyro, explosions and a giant video board, and when those things failed to reach a desirable level of spectacle Armstrong had squirt guns, toiletpaper shooters and even a t-shirt cannon (no this wasn’t a Celtics halftime show) waiting in the wings.& &
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One thing is certain: this band has energy. From the first note, when the band stuck to the songs, the show was stellar. Besides Armstrong’s well known brand of punk guitar on steroids, the rest of the band, now ballooning on stage from a trio to as many as seven members for some of the band’s new tunes, more than holds its own. Drummer Tre Cool has gone from the classic punk drummer to the classic arena rock drummer, and his powerful and muscular playing carried songs like “Are We The Waiting”. Bassist Mike Dirnt, meanwhile, supplied the robust basslines in his power stance, filling in the spaces musically like a thick, sludgy paint brush. The sound in the Garden was good, and the band blasted a thick block of noise, ever changing and constantly streaming a steady chug of strong and vibrant rock.

However, at times the band’s focus on crowd interaction became overly excessive and the antics just got in the way of the music. The crowd was already singing along to just about every new song off 21st Century Breakdown, so was there a need to insist on call and answers after every other song. The band has a long history of inviting teenagers on stage (for years the band would invite fans on stage to form a band and play an Operation Ivy cover), but& this time around Armstrong invited members of the audience onto the stage one after another, to sing-along, play guitar and even in an ironic move, receive the healing power of Christianity during “East Jesus Nowhere”. At first these sidesteps were fun and proved Green Day’s love and appreciation for their fans, but by the time Armstrong let a different person sing each verse on a drawn out “Longview” the act got old and the flow of the concert started to derail. As for the t-shirt cannon, is there ever really a need for that?

Luckily the band brought the show back in the second half with a series of old favorites like "Brainstew", "She", and even the oldest gem "2000 Light Years Away". While there are two distinct eras of the Green Day catalog, it should be noted that the old classics worked just fine with the new politically charged material of American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. The call-to-arms of “21 Guns” and the undeniably catchy three chord romp of “Know Your Enemy” fit in with the best of their catalog. If the roar of the crowd is any judge, though, the carefree Green Day songs of yore can still drive the show. When Armstrong cut into the opening chord of “Basket Case” or when the crowd enthusiastically sang to the chorus to “Welcome to Paradise”, the rare air of an audience completely mesmerized filled the arena as much as the music.

Following a long and awkward rendition of the Isley Brothers’s "Shout" (complete with a saxophonist dressed as Michael Jackson), the band brought the main set to a close with "21 Guns" and "American Eulogy". They promptly returned for a three-song encore of "American Idiot", "Jesus of Suburbia", and "Minority" before Armstong closed the show himself with what was in many ways the most intense moment of the night. Alone at the top of a center stage catwalk, Armstrong strummed out "Macy’s Day Parade" and “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” while the entire crowd was hushed on their toes as confetti fluttered all around.

All in all the show was a success, despite a few of the aforementioned snags, you have to hand it Green Day for delivering an entertaining show. At the end of the day, it’s hard not to have fun at a Green Day show and if you didn’t on Monday night, it was not due to lack of trying from the band.&

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