After 30 years, you’d think a band would get a tad stale. A lack of ideas born out of sheer longevity, or the wear-and-tear of decades of touring, often spell the end for long-lived bands. Not so, for California-born punk rockers, Green Day. Not many acts can exude as spunky an attitude as well as Green Day has been doing for the better part of three decades- from the stripped-down punk of Kerplunk!, to their meteoric rise through the Dookie era, to the experimentation of Insomniac and Warning. All the way to their career-defining magnum opus of a political commentary, American Idiot, and beyond, Green Day has always remained unapologetic, energetic and genuine. This pure, unchanging attitude is what brought a sellout crowd of 12,000 strong to Infinite Energy Centre to witness the spectacle of Green Day live.
The energy started building long before the band took to the stage, however. Before the curtain over the stage set had even dropped, the entire arena was singing along to Queen’s masterpiece of a ballad, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and Blitzkreig Bop. By the time Billie Joe Armstrong pranced onstage, the crowd was wild- and the pure enthusiasm wasn’t going to let up.
From the opening chords of “Know Your Enemy”, the entire arena was on their feet, singing every word. Over the course of the night, three fans were let on stage to sing or play guitar- and, of course, obligatorily stagedive. Armstrong, Mike Dirnt (Bass) and Tre Cool (drums), joined by touring members Jason White (guitar) and Jason Freese (keyboards/accordion/sax) whipped the capacity crowd into a frenzy, covering each chapter of their discography. True day-one fans were delighted by throwbacks such as “2000 Light Years Away” (91), while younger fans such as myself were thrilled to hear their defining political record “American Idiot” almost in it’s entirety.
While their music is classic Green Day’s stage presence is still something special to watch. Armstrong constantly initiated a call-and-response of “Hey-Oh” and oftentimes directed the crowd without saying a word. Armstrong pranced around the stage, interacting with individual fans as well as cuing entire sections to cheer. True to form, Armstrong also used his platform and audience to decry discrimination- “Tonight, we are not going to live in fear. Tonight, we are not going to live in anger. We are not going to live in lies (…) We’re gonna sing. We’re gonna dance. We’re gonna love, right? We don’t want racism. We don’t want sexism. We don’t want homophobia. We don’t want xenophobia. We’re freaking Americans!”. The entire arena seemed to embrace the love and pure excitement Armstrong radiated- though the raucous pits still were hubs of aggression. Pyro and explosions lit the stage with regularity, but not at all as a gimmick.
All in all, there was nothing not to love about the perpetually 19 year old Green Day. Their punk roots showed through on pure punk tracks such as “Minority” and “St. Jimmy”, their songwriting captivated on “Jesus of Suburbia” and “Letterbomb”, and showed their tender side on their second of two encores- “Ordinary World” and “Good Riddance”. The sheer all-encompassing nature of their set surprised me- tracks from every album (except the Trilogy of albums from the early 2010s) made the cut, and all of the crowd’s favourites found their way onto the setlist. Green Day exemplifies youth onstage, even after a career that began several years before I was born…and they show no signs of slowing down.