At a time when bands can take to YouTube to gain recognition at a rate of notts it’s become harder to define a hierarchy of acts.
The lines have become blurred between passing stars and genre-defining artists, with bands who seem to have been formed yesterday somehow selling out U.K. stadiums today.
But in 1986, at 14-years-old, Mr Billie Joe Armstrong and Mr Mike Dirnt met in Berkeley, California. Together they created Green Day who, more than 30 years later, returned to the stage at London’s O2 Arena as the rightful King’s of modern rock music and indisputable heroes.
Know Your Enemy, from 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown, launched an almost 3 hour set that would be excessive for anyone else but for Green Day it worked out as an hour per working decade. Heroes.
Starting from that first song lucky fans were pulled out of the crowd to join the band on stage, including Rachel who, after being carried on to play guitar during Knowledge, was told by Billie-Joe that she “had” to keep the black Les Paul Junior that she had played. Heroes.
A band of Green Day’s stature doesn’t have to do things like that, yet they do. It’s a testament to their modesty and ultimately humble nature. You might cite Billie-Joe’s now infamous ‘meltdown’ at the 2012 iHeartRadio music festival as evidence to the contrary but the public response that followed sparked an immediate search for substance abuse treatment on behalf of the frontman. Besides, what he said that night wasn’t necessarily wrong. They are, after all, heroes.
At any rate, Green Day are unassuming in the face of commercial success. Tonight they played eight songs that all feature on International Superhits, the ‘greatest hits’ album released in 2001, three years before American Idiot was released in 2004. That’s the American Idiot that went six-times-platinum, won the Grammy award for Best Rock Album and stayed in the Billboard 200 for 101 weeks. Guess nobody saw that one coming. Heroes.
That’s the same American Idiot that ripped a hole through US politics, media and culture 13-years ago, yet tonight Green Day are relatively reserved in their political statements, enjoying the crowd’s “Fuck Trump” chant but little else. It’s likely the trio saw the futility in rallying political fury within the most already passionately outspoken that the UK has to offer. All 20,000 in attendance were not ones to hide their beliefs or sit on the back burner but tonight was more a celebration of positive humanity and what the outsiders, outcasts and freaks can achieve in the face of worldwide hostility to the unknown. Heroes. Freaky, creepy, heroes.
Whilst here, amongst 20,000 British music enthusiasts, Green Day took the time to pay homage to the artists who put U.K. music on the map with a laid-back medley of covers including The Undertone’s Teenage Kicks, The Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction, and The Beatles’ Hey Jude. Heroes.
After an incredible career-spanning night, Green Day wrapped up with not one but two encores. The first, consisting of Jesus of Suburbia and American Idiot, was expected and perfect. The second began with Ordinary World and ultimately ended with the wonderfully beautiful yet understated Good Riddance which, as it turns out, is one of the most nostalgic songs ever written. It’s a wonder the O2 didn’t fill up with tears.
Heroes. Unadulterated, unapologetic, authentic, talented, era-defining, kind-hearted, crowd-commanding, lyrically gifted, sensational, heroes.
GREEN DAY WILL HEADLINE BRITISH SUMMER TIME FESTIVAL IN LONDON’S HYDE PARK ON JULY 1ST 2017. TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE.