Green Day Live@Ahoy, Rotterdam
Fifteen years after their break-through release Dookie, Californian punk band Green Day still hasn’t forgotten how to put on a show—with the emphasis on show.
Against the décor of a cityscape, singer/guitarist/professional clown Billie Joe Armstrong, drummer Tré Cool and bass-player Mike Dirnt have obviously come to Rotterdam to provide Epic Entertainment. Bolstered by ecstatic fan response from the first tones of their latest album 21st Century Breakdown, they soon made it clear that they came to provide spectacle. Billie Joe is the consummate ringmaster, constantly getting the audience to respond and/or interact. Sometimes, this backfires. There were a few moments during the concerts that repeated use of the old “Can I hear Eeeyoooh!” schtick got in the way of playing the actual damn songs.
At €65 a ticket, I‘m sure they felt the need to give their fans some value for money, hence the need for some massive padding. For those prices, one would expect a little more than just a straight rehashing of their greatest hits1 so we got an elaborate stage set-up, made to look like a ruined cityscape, video projected over said décor and numerous uses of fireworks. The video led to an unintentional moment of black humour (as I’m sure these video projections are the same wherever they play) when during “Holiday”, the silhouettes of WW2 era bombers and fighter planes are projected over the cityscape. Which, if you know anything about the history of Rotterdam, takes on a whole new level of significance.
And so we were treated to, among other things, super soakers, a TP gun, an air-propelled T-shirt cannon, a Billie Joe-led conga line through the main arena, a Britney Spears joke that fell ridiculously flat and some buffoonery with a spotlight.
It’s a good thing that when they focus on the songs, the material is strong enough to overcome all the theatrics and manages to rock the house solidly. Many fan favourites were welcomed and sung along word-for-word, culminating in a sing-along of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” that not only silenced the band itself, but made Tré Cool and Billie Joe take bows of respect.
Surprisingly, a large number of songs in the second half were older material from their first major label album, Dookie. Not that they were unwelcome; even fifteen years later, songs like “Welcome To Paradise”, “When I Come Around”, and “Basket Case” are still as strong as they were when they were first released. Unfortunately, the trip in the Way Back Machine failed spectacularly during “Longview”, when Billie Joe dragged a female fan onto the stage to sing the song in his stead. There’s only so much you can make up for with enthusiasm.
Curiously, “American Idiot” (the only song that could compete with “Basket Case” as their signature song) was saved for the first encore. The show ended somewhat predictably with an acoustic solo set by Billie Joe singing “When September Ends” and “Good Riddance (Time of your Life)”.
Not that there’s anything wrong with finishing on an acoustic set, I mean they’re great songs, but personally I’d have saved the acoustics for the first encore and used the second encore to go out with a bang.
# “Song of the Century”
# “21st Century Breakdown”
# “Know Your Enemy”
# “East Jesus Nowhere”
# “Before The Lobotomy”
# “The Static Age”
# “Are We The Waiting”
# “St. Jimmy”
# “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams”
# “Hitchin’ A Ride”
# “Welcome To Paradise”
# “When I Come Around”
# “Brain Stew”
# “Basket Case”
# “King For A Day”
# Cover Medley
- “Shout” (The Isley Brothers cover)
- “Stand By Me” (Ben E. King cover)
- “Satisfaction” (The Rolling Stones cover)
- “Shout” (The Isley Brothers cover)
# “21 Guns”
# Encore 1:
# “American Idiot”
# “Jesus Of Suburbia”
# Encore 2:
# “Wake Me Up When September Ends” (Acoustic)
# “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” (Acoustic)
- Although Pearl Jam managed to milk a 2.5 hour show out of doing exactly that, you can usually fit two or three Green Day songs into a single Pearl Jam guitar solo. To compare: when the Ramones did it in one of their last European tours, they were done in an hour. ↩