Green Day @ Perth Arena
w/ The Interrupters
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Flying in seemingly under the radar, Californian pop punks turned stadium rockers Green Day were in town to promote their latest album in the form of the Revolution Radio Tour. Sunday night at Perth Arena was the first concert in the Oceania leg of the world tour and it was clear from the outset that the band’s energy and enthusiasm was soaring as they delivered a high octane epic two hour plus machine gun set.
When Green Day first appeared on our Rage screens in 1994 with the single Longview, our ears pricked up and our eyes widened at this new sound that bridged the gap between grunge and ushered in the Californian pop punk movement of the mid to late 90s. It was the lead single off the watershed album, Dookie, that went on to house three huge singles and sell over ten million albums worldwide, shooting the three piece from relative obscurity into rock stardom. In more recent years the band have captured the attention of the younger generation by crossing over into the mainstream radio realm. A natural progression for such a popular band, the group have altered their line up by adding an extra guitarist, a keyboardist and a backing vocalist to fill out their sound and it gives them that stadium rock presence.
Along for the ride and to open the night were fellow Californian’s, ska punks The Interrupters. Interestingly this band formed in 2011 well after the brief ska punk movement of the early 2000s. Thankfully taking more influence from bands like Rancid and The Distillers than Smashmouth, their lead single Family (produced by Rancid’s Tim Armstrong) shows lead singer Aimee Interrupter having inflections of Brody Dalle in her vocal style.
After a brief changeover, a man in a rabbit suit appeared on stage to introduce the show and hype up the crowd to the tune of The Ramones’ Blitzkrieg Bop. Though having missed Easter, the bunny suit must have been some weird in joke as most were wondering what that was all about.
The curtain raised and the Green Day members took their positions on stage. Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong looked like a man possessed as he ran from one end of the stage to the other, throwing his hands up, giving his all to get the half enthused crowd on their feet and onto his level of excitement and adrenaline. The traditional line-up of Tré Cool on drums and Mike Dirnt on bass was complemented with touring keyboardist and saxophonist John Freese, guitarist John White and backing singer/ guitarist (and Billie Joe doppleganger) Jeff Matika.
Know Your Enemy off 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown was the first track and it was huge, stopping mid bridge for the infamous crowd interaction where Armstrong brings a lucky punter on stage. The gimmick went off without a hitch and the kid nailed the vocal part before being told the only way off stage was to dive off the ego ramp, doing so to the eruption of pyrotechnics. What a spectacle! It was so flawless you had to wonder if it was a set up. Nonetheless, it was impressive and surely made the kid’s dreams come true.
Bang Bang off Revolution Radio whipped the standing area into a frenzy as Billie Joe screamed “Do you want a revolution?! Revolution Radio!” Armstrong proved handy with his portable mic stand effortlessly moving it from the main stage to the ego ramp and back and where ever he chose to position himself, still keeping his guitar in tow. His dexterity and commitment to hyping up the crowd was impressive.
The front half of the set was heavy with newer material which was evident from the younger kids around me jumping and singing to songs that I couldn’t help tune out to. Holiday, took the show into commercial radio territory reminding me of every cover band I have ever heard.
“Tonight is about unity, no bullshit, this is our house tonight!” Billie Joe proclaimed as he launched into a brief political diatribe. Despite the mainstream crossover with these latter albums they have embraced an anti-government, anarchistic voice that is a common ethos in many early punk band bands like The Sex Pistols and The Clash.
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams provided the Top 40 radio listening audience with a brief high of fist pumping but it seemed to put the brakes on the flow of the set with it’s mid tempo beat, repetitive chorus and throw away lyrics.
I was hoping the new stadium line up would take a break and we would get to hear the stripped back, three piece, Green Day of old and that’s exactly what we got when bass player Dirnt stood on the drum riser with Cool as they locked in for the intro of Longview. Armstrong sported his Dookie era, heavily decorated blue Strat signalling in the “older stuff” part of the show. The third verse provided another chance for audience interaction, not as nailed as the first attempt.
2000 Light Years Away was a breath of fresh air as they touched on, in my opinion their best album, Kerplunk. A fantastic nod to their earlier work.
The t-shirt gun was an impressive piece of 21st century technology, easily traversing the length of Perth Arena.
Nimrod era got a look in, when Billie Joe, unimpressed with the crowds involvement acted as conductor, not content until he had the whole arena in the palm of his hand for the crescendo of Hitching A Ride.
When I Come Around was greeted with cheers from the diverse audience. “Finally some hits!” was heard in the crowd from behind me.
Minority brought the show into Warning era. A surprise inclusion was the Operation Ivy cover, Knowledge included on Green Day’s first studio album 39/Smooth, which saw keyboardist, Jason Freese take centre stage on saxophone.
Armstrong once again opened up the offer for someone to come on stage, this time to play guitar. Throwing the offer out to the female patrons. “How old are you? 16? How long have you been playing guitar? 3 years? How many chords do you know? You know them all? Get your ass up here!” A very sweet interaction and Sade got to keep the guitar.
Then it was everyone’s favourite, Basket Case complete with signature Billie Joe star jumps and guitar windmills.
Album track and unmistakable bassline, She brought us back to 1994’s Dookie. Armstrong expressed his gratitude for Perth and his fans in Australia, “We’ve been coming here since 1996” referring to their 1996 world tour that only took in eastern states venues. Their first Perth performance was headlining Joondalup Arena’s Rock It festival in 2000 .
Still Breathing, King For A Day and Forever Now built the show up to it’s finale before the band bowed and left the stage.
After a lacklustre call back from the crowd, the backstage door opened and the band returned to the stage launching into American Idiot and backing it up with Jesus From Suburbia. Both from the rock opera concept album that inspired the award winning broadway musical, American Idiot. Finishing with a “Fuck you Donald Trump!”.
The rest of the band exited the stage leaving Armstrong with acoustic guitar for solo songs, Ordinary World and the inevitable Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life), complete with ticket tape shower and mobile phone “lighter moment”.
Billie Joe and the gang have still got it and at almost thirty years into their career they can hold their own as a major stadium rock act. They know how to put on a show that involves the audience enough to get a Sunday night Perth crowd to their feet. They have a heavy repertoire of hits and have captured a new army of fans through their more commercial albums of late, a feet that not many bands in this age have accomplished. It was great to see the transcendence of generations with adult fans rocking out along side their kids as new fans.
With a set heavy in newer material I would have liked to hear more classics off Kerplunk or even off 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours but then I am of the early generation.
Photos by Daniel Bedford