Green Day started their 2009 concert tour on July 3 in Seattle. So far, they have toured Vancouver, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Fargo, and Minneapolis and have about 500 more cities to go before they finish up next year. I’ve made sure not to watch videos of the band playing for the most part until after I see them later this month in Albany and then again at the two Madison Square Garden shows. I’ve heard so much bitching and moaning about the setlist over at the Green Day Community from pre-AI fans and those who have seen GD’s stadium shows before this tour to last a lifetime — you’ll have to find out what the issues are on your own, if you care to know. So since I’ve only seen them live once at Good Morning America, I’ve decided to experience the band as the band would like to present itself… even if I would love to hear older songs and have the setlist sound a little more unlike the American Idiot tour than I think it may sound. Oh well. Cie la vie. Shit happens.
I’ve made a few exceptions for some special moments that more than likely won’t be repeated at subsequent shows, like this rare rendition of Billie Joe Armstrong singing “Minnesota Girl” in honor of his wife, who’s from Minnesota (and where they met) at last night’s show. I’ve also made it a point of watching videos of Green Day inviting members of the audience up to stage in order to have them try their hand at ‘being in the band.’
My two favorites so far happened early in the tour, the first in Seattle, and the other in Vancouver:
Kamran Inram plays Jesus of Suburbia – Seattle
Michael Aaron Keith bumps it with Billie Joe Armstrong on Longview – Vancouver
I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life, but I have never seen a band do what Green Day does when it comes to the audience. While I have only seen them once, I’ve seen enough other GD concerts on tape (Bullet in a Bible, Live 8 in Germany, Rock AM Ring in Germany — full video no longer available on Comcast, where I saw it — and a bunch of pre-American Idiot stuff) to know that they have an amazing synergy with their audience unlike any band I’ve been privileged to see, except maybe for Gwar, but I think it’s the blood and costumes that gives Gwar that special something something. Ultimately, it’s got something to do with GD’s guts and courage — who else would even dare to bring an unknown factor into their stage show? I can’t even think of a band that’s done it before, though I’m sure… yes?… that there have been others?
Which brings me momentarily to the American Idiot – The Musical production coming up soon in Berkeley. The night and several-beers-at-the-bierhaus before I saw GD at at 8AM on GMA, I went to see a friend in a production of The Who’s Tommy performed live for the first time by the Gallery Players in Brooklyn. I had never seen a full production of the show before and I really didn’t know what to expect. I was completely and pleasantly surprised by the energy and dynamism of the cast. I’ve seen The Who perform a few of the songs from their album live and it was amazing, and the Gallery Players cast really nailed it — except that the audience wouldn’t move or tap their feet, which annoyed the shit out of me.
I’m trying to figure out in my head what rhetorical devices the cast of AI-TM will employ to bring that same existing synergy between GD and the audience to the live stage. GD songs scream to be sung to and shouted back… It’s going to be an interesting exercise, especially when (not if) the show comes to Broadway. I’ll tell you one thing, if AI-TM is good when I see it in New York, I’m not going to be sitting in the audience asking permission from New York theater snobs to bounce up and down in my seat… if that’s the way the director wants it.
Anyway, this is rambling now. I’m in a hotel in Baltimore after a family reunion and I haven’t been able to post anything in a few days since life is a bit hectic. I’ll fix this up later when I get back to NYC.