Green Day – Leeds Arena – 05/02/17
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It’s 2013 and Green Day (10) have just finished playing to tens of thousands of fans in a muddy field on the outskirts of Leeds, only the night before doing the same to kick off the Reading festival. Declaring to the crowd that night, “This is the last show we will play in the UK for a while”, we fast forward four years and we’re back in Leeds, this time at a sold out First Direct Arena about to see Green Day play their first UK show on the ‘Revolution Radio’ tour.
As the arena packs out, the oh-so-familiar Bohemian Rhapsody rings through the space joined by a chorus of thousands of voices, quickly followed by the Ramones classic, Blitzkrieg Bop. With the final syllables of the iconic, “EY OH, LETS GO” dying off, the lights drop, the intro music begins and the Californian three piece, and company, storm onto the stage.
Immediately the band burst into 21st Century Breakdown’s, Know Your Enemy, and with that you know that this isn’t just a normal show. Running straight from the pyro filled opener, the band rocket into two songs out of the six played that evening off of the latest album, Bang Bang and Revolution Radio, which also featured as much pyro as the set opener.
Whilst famous for their audience interaction, the familiar “hey-ooo” filled the arena the majority of the night, further perfecting the call and response method that front man, Billie Joe Armstrong, has been using for verging a thirty-year career. Over 13,000 people, captivated and holding onto every word, every step across the stage and every power chord (with Armstrong mocking himself, saying “Three chords are all you need”). Bringing a little girl up on stage to sing the bridge, she takes the microphone from Billie Joe to his delight and confidently belts the bridge out without fear or hesitation, promptly followed by a stage dive, the tone for the night is set!
It’s none stop action from there on out, with only a few seconds break between songs, be it just for a guitar change over or just to make the arena scream at just the muttering of the word, “Leeds”. The first hour and a half flies by, with classic songs such as Longview (with a special guest appearance from a fan singing the final verse and chorus), Basket Case, Hitchin’ A Ride, Waiting and Minority making an appearance, as well as some hidden gems for the long standing and dedicated Green Day fans in the form of Armitage Shanks, 2000 Light Years Away and Christie Road.
It is quite extraordinary that songs written over twenty-five years ago, such as 2000 Light Years Away, comfortably sit in the same set as more modern anthems such as Holiday and Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. Whilst some might criticize the Cali punk rock trio and say that what they do is over done, dull and that it’s typical three-chord Pop Punk, this is an extremely unique band, versatile and confident enough to play an emotive ballad and then go straight into a twenty two year old song written about masturbation.
Even though they’re now easily 100 minutes into their set, fast paced and fun songs such as St Jimmy and King For A Day make their way into the set, a set which has taken songs from twelve albums now, the band conclude the first set with the monstrous new single Still Breathing, closely followed by fellow Rev Rad song, Forever Now, leaving the stage to a rapturous applause and a thirst for more.
Following a moments rest from dancing and screaming, the band launched into American Idiot, with a dedication to current US President in the form of a “Fuck you Donald Trump” chant mid way through the song. After playing the epic Jesus Of Suburbia, Tre Cool, Mike Dirnt and co left the stage to leave Armstrong in the spotlight with an acoustic guitar.
After a chaotic set spanning over two hours, it comes to a conclusion with a tender rendition of Ordinary World and nostalgic classic, Good Riddance, leaving one final sing along, one final moment of unity between the thousands within the arena, sharing an experience that no-one will forget.
When it is all said and done, history will look back on bands such as Green Day for never faltering their art. Whilst Tre Cool, Mike Dirnt and Billie Joe are now in their mid forties, this is a band that has the live capabilities of those half their age, if anything, Green Day would run rings around them. The diversity in the age of the audience alone, going from young children to teenagers, to adults, even to some more mature punks goes to show this is a band that has, and will continue to transcend generations to come. With all the negatives going on in the world right now, bands like Green Day are needed more than ever to unite, to sing and bring joy and inspiration to the masses.
Check out our super sized Live in Photos section of Green Day from this show right HERE!
Review: Adam Jones
Photography: © Danny Peart Photography