LIVE: Green Day @ The O2 Arena, London

By Christopher Lee

It’s been a while since the punk rock phenomenon that is Green Day graced us with their presence. They haven’t set foot on UK shores since back in 2013 when they headlined Reading & Leeds festivals. Last year however saw the release of the first new material from the band in nearly half a century. ‘Revolution Radio’ brought with it a resurgence for the band after 2012’s triple release of ‘Uno’, ‘Dos’ & ‘Tre’.

The crowd are already being entertained by a giant pink bunny dancing to The Ramones ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ before Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool make their way on to the stage to the soundtrack of ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ before opening proceedings with an electric rendition of ‘Know Your Enemy’ that sees fireworks and the entire venue bouncing.

The guys have never been ones to shy away from political climates and current events need no explanation. Armstrong points out that tonight’s show is more than just a Green Day show, “It’s about freedom, freaks and weirdos and being called a piece of shit. And being different together and proud,”

The band blast through the opening salvo of tracks with ‘Holiday’ standing out in what is an explosive atmosphere and sees the crowd moving endlessly. Armstrong still owns the stage with the presence and energy of someone half his age as the crowd sing and move to his every command. He even provides water to those in the front via a water hose an shoots t-shirts into the crowd throughout ‘2000 light Years Away’.

Throughout the set Armstrong invites various members of the audience up on stage to sing with the band and encouraging them to dive into the crowd afterwards. The most touching occurrence of this comes during ‘Knowledge’ when he invites a disabled fan on to the stage to play one of their guitars. Having already had the pleasure of gracing the stage with her favourite band Armstrong then tells her she can keep the guitar, bringing not only the fan and her parent to tears but also quite a few members of the crowd.

The band play for a mammoth 2 and a half hours and give the fans a career spanning set which includes tracks from ‘Waiting’, Dookie’, and of course latest album ‘Revolution Radio’. When you’ve been a band for more than two decades you’re sure to have more than enough material to choose from. Not surprisingly though the largest number of tracks on the set list come from set 2004’s ‘American Idiot’ which is surely a nod to the US’s current leadership.

Not content with playing their own stuff there’s also time for them to cover some classics like ‘Shout’, ‘Teenage KIcks’ and ‘(I can’t get no) Satisfaction. They even time take a brief rest, lying down on stage to take us through an acoustic rendition of ‘Hey Jude’. The guys bring an epic show to an equally epic close with not one but two encores. The first sees them smash through ‘American Idiot’ and ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ whilst the second is a much more laid back approach with Armstrong bringing the curtain down with a solo rendition of ‘Good Riddance (Time of your life)’ before the rest of the band join him on stage at the end for a bow and thunderous applause.

If this show tells us anything about Green Day in 2017 it’s this, in this time of almost global political unrest and uncertainty the world needs punk rock more than ever. And not many do punk rock better than Green Day. Luckily we don’t have to wait another 4 years for their return as they’ll be back in *month* to headline Hyde Park’s British Summer Time alongside Rancid and The Hives.