GREEN DAY TAKES FANS AWAY TO 'PARADISE'
By AUSTIN O’CONNOR
Sun Staff Sunday-6/24


Green Day’s latest album is called Warning, but the ferocity of the
band’s live shows arrives without one.
Okay, so there were a few flashing red lights that cut through the
Tsongas Arena darkness on Friday night as the Bay Area-based punk trio —
singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer
Tre Cool — bounded on stage just past 9 p.m. and ripped into “Nice Guys
Finish Last.”
But trust me, it takes more than a couple of spinning bulbs to prepare
for the type of sensory assault served up by Armstrong and his
bandmates, who burst out of the Berkeley, Calif. punk scene and onto the
national radar seven years ago on the strength of their hard-driving
tunes on their mega-hit major label debut, Dookie.
It sold more than 10 million copies, and the band has faded in and out
of the spotlight ever since. But Friday night’s 19-song, 105-minute show
— which followed a blistering 35-minute opening set from Aussie rockers
The Living End — had the kind of epic intensity few rock bands can
muster.
Much of the credit for that goes to Armstrong, now a family man and
nearing the ripe old age of 30. From the opening tune, he directed the
crowd like a maestro before his orchestra, raising his arms to the
rafters and quivering, whipping the young fans — most of whom turned the
Arena floor into a moshing mass of teenage humanity — into a fervor.
Despite the crowd surfers and circles of young males pantomiming WWF
routines, Armstrong was in total control, stalking the stage from end to
end as Cool and Dirnt joined him in turning the Arena into your
neighbor’s noisy garage, full of snot-nosed kids who revel in playing
their instruments too late and too loud.
After tearing through a mix of hits, including “Longview,” “Welcome To
Paradise” and “Church on Sunday,” the band reached way back into its
playbook to dust off “2000 Light Years Away,” from 1991’s indie album
Kerplunk. Then, while covering Operation Ivy’s “Knowledge,” they
recruited a trio of young concertgoers to take over the instruments —
dubbing the makeshift band “The Massachusetts Murders.” The new kids
impressed, ably substituting and drawing roars of approval from the
4,953 screaming fans before stage-diving back into their midst.
Meanwhile, Armstrong continued to work the crowd, joining in on a
“Yankees Suck!” chant and playfully admonishing those in the seats for
not working as hard as the moshers. There’s a little Springsteen in the
frontman’s stage demeanor (the guys even threw some sax into “Church on
Sunday”) though he hasn’t forgotten his punk roots, donning a gorilla
mask for “Longview” and sporting a royal crown for a raucous “King For
A Day.”
Even after a schizophrenic five-song encore that began with an Armstrong
solo of “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” then jumped to manic, noisy
classics “When I Come Around” and “Platypus (I Hate You)” before
finishing with the melancholy hope of “Macy’s Day Parade,” the image of
Armstrong wearing his red velvet crown and directing the crowd from atop
a center-stage woofer was the one that lingered.
King for a day?
If they keep putting on shows like this, Armstrong and Green Day’s reign
atop their punk kingdom will last much longer than that.


Austin O’Connor’s e-mail address is aoconnor@lowellsun.com.