Green Day need little to no introduction, but just in case, here’s a quick recap. Being arguably the most key band to pop-punk with their 90’s records ‘Dookie’, ‘Insomniac’ and ‘Nimrod’ they became instant legends and one of the biggest bands on the planet. These records were defined by spunky scrappiness in Tre Cool (drums) and Mike Drint’s (bass) rhythms, in frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s riffs, being married with the strongest knack for melody and catchiness as well as silly lyrics about getting wasted and other youthful activity. There’s also always being an outsider spirit to Green Day which continued into their reinvention with their bold ‘American Idiot’ concept album in 2004, which saw the band mature with style, having more of a political consciousness and reshoot them to the top. They visit Sheffield tonight and deliver a show which matches their legacy.
Firstly, tonight though, we have Rancid who are a classic band in their own right. Like tonight’s headliners Rancid have many a punk anthem under their belts with gritty spirit and instant danceability that get a good chunk of this huge crowd going early on. The band themselves rev-it-up with frontman Tim Armstrong often galloping around the stage as well as ending their set in the crowd and you can feel Matt Freeman’s insane bass skills from a distance with rapid, animated fretwork.
Green Day have no problem following legends as they themselves are. From start to finish this is just a delight. This band have so many iconic tracks in their arsenal, that much of the 13,000 people will be singing along to every word across the two-and-a-half-hours Green Day play tonight. Whether it be the politically charged ‘Holiday’ or the ska-punk masterclass ‘King For A Day’, what most Green Day songs have in common is hooks that stick in your head like gum and a lot of heart to connect with.
However, on the off chance you’re not a huge Green Day fan, if you’re just here with your kid or a mate, you’re still going to have a blast, because this band sure know how to put on a show.
There’s the standard arena rock stuff of pyro and cannons, but there’s also Green Day’s own flavour of dazzle. There’s a point where Armstrong is spraying people with a hose, he takes every opportunity possible to hype people with chants and most special of all, they bring people onstage to play guitar or sing a part.
When these people do get onstage, you can feel how special this is for them throughout the whole building as they get to be in a legendary band for a moment. In particular the guy who came on to do the last verse of ‘Longview’ owned it, prancing around with much swagger and sass, and the crowd gives a victorious cheer for him. Whoever you are, if you’re reading this, start a band.
Even between all the tricks up Green Day’s sleeve, you have a band who have tons of adrenaline, with Tre Cool delivering rapid fills and Armstrong often running around and jumping off amps. Armstrong hits every note with full passion and vigour even after the thousands of times he’ll have played these songs across the years.
The songs still feel powerful to the people too. ‘When I Come Around’ and ‘She’ are cute, confused love songs with their warm, but punchy textures and lyrics that will tend to you if you’re in that place or put you right back there if you’re not. ‘Basket Case’ hasn’t lost a percentage of its anthemic ‘I’m not okay’ charm and ‘Jesus Of Suburbia’ still holds up as a thrilling nine minutes if defiance and fortitude.
They close with ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’ and even though it’s just Armstrong playing it solo acoustically it’s just as powerful as any firepower tonight. Even if you’ve heard this song a million times from just being into Green Day, hearing it in TV shows or high school slide-shows, it’s hard not to burst into tears seeing it live. The song has the strongest level of reflection and acceptance that it immediately makes everything okay, not matter how overwhelming that might be.
An outstanding show from an outstanding band, but then what else would you expect? If you’ve seen Green Day before, if you’re not even into Green Day, there’s no way you can’t be impressed with them live over and over. There’s bombast, there’s energy, there’s colossal sing alongs, there’s heart and it’s all done in their own way.