The day began like any other. I woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head. My work day was uneventful and without stress. At the end of it I was looking forward to seeing my favorite band with my fifteen year old son who has become a fan himself. As soon as I walked in the door he was eager to go in hopes of procuring a good spot to stand near the stage.
Being an adult male on the wrong side of forty, my desire to stand in line for hours before concerts is several years in the rear view mirror. Being an adult however, I used my super ninja Dad skills to plan when we would get there, where we would park, and which entrance we would use to minimize our wait time and any discomfort I might experience. Unfortunately the universe had gotten wind of my plans and locked the entrance to the arena I had planned to use. My son and I were forced to wait outdoors in the cold for forty minutes without coats. Ugh. Not a good start.
When we did get inside we were pleasantly surprised to weasel our way into a nice spot only fifteen to twenty feet from the stage. After an opening act that appeared to sleep walk through their set list, the arena and it’s 10,000 temporary denizens became quiet. That was when I had two distinctly ‘old man thoughts’ which I’m now embarrassed to admit. First I thought, ‘After three hours on my feet my back is going to be aching.’ Then very quickly I also thought ‘I’m going to regret not having earplugs.’ After a brief intermission following the opening act our headliner Green Day stormed onto the stage in an explosion of light and sound and my crazy old man thoughts were completely forgotten.
Green Day has been my favorite band since the early 90’s. This was my fifth time seeing them live. The tour had been delayed by three months while front-man Billie Joe Armstrong was in rehab. Billie Joe took the stage like a man making up for lost time and I’ve never seen their show better. Make no mistake, it is a show. Green Day does not play concerts. They put on shows.
With the frenetic energy of a Tazmanian Devil on Red Bull, Billie Joe seemed to feed off the crowd and the crowd seemed to be drawing energy from Billie Joe. From the first note he seemed to delight in orchestrating the crowd with hand gestures and exhortations. Billie Joe, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool seemed to enjoy our participation as much as we did theirs. It wasn’t as if they were playing music for us so much as they were playing it with us and us with them. From bringing audience members up on stage to sing or play instruments to sitting down and letting their 10,000 back up singers finish a song, the night felt like one big party none of us wanted to leave.
It wasn’t just great music either. Green Day puts on a spectacle that goes beyond the mere playing of music. There are enough strobes to wake a coma patient. There’s the zany, costume and kazoo-laden performance of their campy song King for a Day. Then there was Billie Joe first assaulting his eager audience with water from fire department grade hoses. The next weapon in his arsenal was a device that shot streamers of toilet paper far into the crowd. Lastly, when he ran out of Cottonelle, he pulled out the big gun, literally, firing t-shirts all over the arena at all-too-willing targets.
It was a two hour and twenty minute performance that took my breath away. It also took the breath away of bassist Mike Dirnt who could be seen catching his breath between songs during the encore. While he was catching his breath he was also putting his fist to his heart and mouthing Thank you to audience members repeatedly. We expressed our gratitude to the band with our cheers which were as sincere as their thanks.
As my son and I drove home with our ears still buzzing we talked happily about all of our favorite songs and parts of the show. As I listened to my son I began to reminisce. I realized that I had gone to see my first Green Day show before my son was born and now we went together. Talk about the circle of life! It brought a happy, little tear to my eye. When I got home I was still too mentally wired from the show to sleep so I grabbed my Kindle, a glass of red wine and, courtesy of Mrs. Phil, the most delicious chocolate cupcake I’ve ever had and I put my feet up and reclined, reading myself to sleep with a smile on my face. The perfect end to a perfect day. A Green Day.
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