New York, Madison Square Garden, July 27, 2009
I knew from the moment I exited the Times Union Center that I would not experience the full impact of Green Day’s music at this concert. You see, I had seats… high into the dead zone of MSG. So very sad. Nonetheless, the crowd around me (except for the three people next to me who kept getting out of their seats) were pretty great. There were four young men in crazy hats (Kings for a Day?) who very politely let us know that if their giant sombrero hats got in the way of viewing to say something. And I did. But, my friend who went with me is a only a nominal Green Day fan and while I love her, I don’t think she enjoyed the show very much. I have sworn never to again attend a Green Day show with someone who is a nominal fan. It’s all or nothing for a Green Day show.
I’ve seen a few concerts at Madison Square Garden and for most of them, I’ve been in the 300 sections, high up under the skyboxes. I hate sitting there. U2 sounded like they were underwater when I saw them there years ago. I noticed the sound difference most specifically during this show when I went down toward the front of the stadium after Billie Joe frightened the MSG security guards by urging fans to (slowly) come down and fill out the pit. Looking from up above, I had a feeling he would do this since the pit on stage right had a slight void of bodies in it. Of course, as usual, I didn’t get down there in time (yes, I left my friend in the dust), and of course, as usual, I chose the wrong aisle to go down because Billie came up to the stadium on the aisle next to me. I’m pretty sure they were clearing that area anyway so that he wouldn’t trip and fall. And he didn’t! Yay! I marched back up to my seat and longed for that pit. My goodness.
Other highlights of this show for me where Billie telling the story of fighting with Adrienne over the phone when he was out with friends, while some guy drove by and said, “Fuck you Billie Joe! Green Day sucks!” Billie Joe then went on to relate how he beat the crap out of the guy, goes back into the bar, does some shots and forgets that Adrienne is still on the phone. Apparently this all took place during the tough final record-mixing time. Those days are over now, it’s all good.
I think the thing that I missed most in this show was the chance to dance, play and interact more directly with the band. Billie, Tré and Mike work the crowd like you wouldn’t believe. They draw you into playtime, even if seeing them at great distances. Take it from me, the closer the better. Even if it’s only been three times so far (tomorrow’s MSG fill will make four, all this year) seeing them, I completely regret not taking the opportunity a long time ago. Oh. Well. After only a few shows, I kinda feel addicted now. Is this how all those old Deadheads felt, too? Hmm.
From an audience participation point of view, this show had some great moments. I can’t remember exactly when but at one point a construction hat pops out of the pit, and Billie puts it on. He throws it back to the pit a few seconds later. The construction hat will be back.
“East Jesus Nowhere.” What can I say about this song except for ‘thank you.’ From the very moment when the screeching, metallic quality of the chords start, a powerful moment begins which does not disappoint. The band finds a young, preferably innocent, child upon which to perform a ritual known as “saving the soul.” Sometimes the kids are scared shitless, and sometimes you get a kid like Elijah… with a Biblical name no less… at Madison Square Garden. Good times. Elijah played his part perfectly and deserved the chant that his name got. Billie was pretty good, too.
“Longview” was surreal. I don’t remember the first verse singer, but for the second verse singer, we come back to the construction hat. From what I understand, some kids from Oakland traveled from California to see the band. The guy with the construction hat being one of them. Well, he got on stage and in a heavy metal sorta Gwar-like voice started the lyrics. Which was kinda cool for a word or two. And then he stopped in the middle of the verse and made Billie sing the song. A bit of a bummer, I’d say, particularly since the second verse is the best verse in “Longview.” In recompense, Billie had him stage dive, which he gladly did. He ran down the cat walk at high speed down and…. he jumps and… nobody catches him. Oops. This clip has the scene, which ends around the 3:37 mark. LOL funny. Luckily, the last dude totally redeems the moment with a great performance and a even better stage dive. As a bonus, the clip also has Basket Case, always a winner. (Hurry before it’s too late!)
I think this night was the first time that they played “When I Come Around,” which may have been a request from the floor. Lots of fun signs pop up with requests, but alas, I can’t think of any right now. I was made happy by it being played. Yay! Disappearing Boy made its second appearance on the concert tour (it was also played in Albany), but on this night it was dedicated to Billie’s oldest son, Joey.
Besides the fact that Green Day played, which is the greatest thing in the world, an even greater thing happened during the 40-hour song, “Jesus of Suburbia.” On this tour the song, or portions of it, have been given over to aspiring musicians from the audience in a sort of crap-shoot way (see Construction Hat Guy). Usually it works out well. Occasionally, it works out really fabulously.
Billie began to ask the audience if they could play “Jesus of Suburbia” and was about to settle on a guy with a sign when the guy said two words he never should have uttered, “What song?” Billie looked at him said, “What song? What did I just say, dumbass?” and moved on to a girl with a sign standing next to him. What happened next was magical, and it was a good thing a professional bootlegger… uh… caught it on tape.
Stephanie debuts with Green Day, Madison Square Garden, July 27, 2009
“I fucking love you!”*
Stephanie, from the GDC, is pretty ecstatic, as you may well believe. She got a mention in the Arts Blog of the New York Times, a bunch of other blogs, and most importantly, Larry Livermore mentioned her on his blog. You go, girl!
1. Song of the Century
2. 21st Century Breakdown
3. Know Your Enemy
4. East Jesus Nowhere
6. Static Age
7. Before the Lobotomy
8. Are We the Waiting
9. St. Jimmy
10. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
11. 2000 Light Years Away
12. Welcome to Paradise
14. When I Come Around
15. Disappearing Boy
16. Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
17. Thank You (Led Zeppelin)/ Sweet Child O’ Mine (Guns N’ Roses)/ Take Me
Out to the Ball Game/ 99 Bottles of Beer/ Iron Man (Riff)
18. Brain Stew
21. Basket Case
23. King For a Day
24. Shout/ Earth Angel (The Penguins)/ Swanee/ I’ll Be There
25. 21 Guns
26. American Eulogy
27. American Idiot
28. Jesus of Suburbia
30. Drama Queen
31. Last Night On Earth (acoustic)
32. Good Riddance
The show traditionally ends with Good Riddance performed by Billie on guitar, and some surprise acoustic numbers have come before it lately. Tonight’s show held a beautiful “Drama Queen” (my first time hearing it live), and a soulful “Last Night on Earth.”
I think the saddest part… and mind you, I had a super time… was not being in the pit and missing the chance to meet Adrienne Armstrong. Apparently she was asking folks in the pit to help with the natural resources project that the band is involved with, the Natural Resources Defense Council or NRDC. You know, some nature crackpots that keep talking about saving the planet or something like that. Good people. It would have been nice to say hello.
Nonetheless, I still had one more show to go. The second night of two shows is always better.*
Photos from: vcastlive.com; greenday.com; greendayauthority.com