Highlights From The Breakdown: A Quick One While He’s Away

A conversation on Facebook comparing Green Day’s two shows at Madison Square Garden back in July and their two shows at London’s O2 in October prompted me to think of Green Day’s version of The Who’s “A Quick One While He’s Away.” Four people, including me, had seen all four shows and except for one, agreed that while both second nights were better, (because the second night is always better), we felt that London’s 2nd show was the winner for various reasons. However, Dawn, who I’ve mentioned before, had one caveat: Green Day’s performance of “A Quick One While He’s Away,” from the second show at Madison Square Garden.

This performance took MSG by surprise because no one in their right mind expected it. The song is one of four bonus tracks from the iTunes release of 21st Century Breakdown and unless you had that album version (the CD and I believe the vinyl versions have different bonus tracks) you were kinda lost as to what was going on.

I remember being a little nervous at the hesitant start for the band. It’s a long and slightly complicated song and who knows how many times they had actually rehearsed it. After a few bars they let go and went with it and I realized that what I was seeing was a very rare performance, especially since Billie Joe noted that it was the first (and probably the last) time that they had performed it. There may be good reason for that as the crowd took a while to warm up to it but I am not sure if the audience ever completely got into it. I did, but I was in the pit, behind one row of bodies and I was pretty damned happy with having heard it live at least once.

So, I got to thinking about the performance and wanted to watch it again, so I’ve posted it below. It’s not the best of videos, but it is the entire seven minute song:

Fast forward to that ficticious band, the Foxboro Hot Tubs, and their gig in London on November 1st. The Foxies (my silly pet name for them) broke the song out and repeated the ‘You Are Forgiven’ a billion times. Here they are having a crazy time with it and the two versions, from, um, two different bands, is like night and day. There are three short “A Quick One” clips on Youtube from the secret show in London and the clip below is the longest one. All of them are very short, which probably had something to do with booze.

About Green Day Mind

Writer, blogger, archivist, not a mom. Three cats. Used to go to a lot of punk shows. View all posts by Green Day Mind

6 responses to “Highlights From The Breakdown: A Quick One While He’s Away

  • Delfina

    It’s interesting you bring this up. I didn’t enjoy A Quick One While He’s Away at MSG at all. I’m not sure why, but that was my gut reaction. (Maybe it’s because it’s a song I don’t know, but also that it’s so long; I dunno, it’s kind of pompous.) I was actually so not-happy that I didn’t even enjoy the first half of the next song, because I was still feeling deflated and almost upset. It wasn’t an opinion that I formed, that’s just how I felt emotionally in the moment.

    I saw them perform it as the FBHT last year, and I liked it somewhat better then, but I think I just don’t like that song very much.

    • greendaymind

      You know, I’m going to have to agree. I was happy to hear it because I knew I’d never hear it again from them live, and once was ok. I’m so new at seeing them perform that almost everything is great to me. I think it did suck the room dry, though, probably especially the hinterlands of MSG. I think Hitchin a Ride was next, but I don’t remember the transition except for what he said it being the first and last time. I’ve never seen the FBHT (this will be rectified one day! 🙂 ), so I didn’t know it was part of their regular setlist until recently. It works much better with them, and I hope that they never attempt it again as Green Day. Once is certainly enough. They did it and they don’t have to do it again!

      They did Give Me Novacaine at the O2, which started off a bit wonky, but ended great. I have never heard it live and I enjoyed it much better than A Quick One.

  • classof13

    I have to say that I loved the performance of A Quick One at MSG. It might only be because my dad was a big Who fan, so that’s how I know the song. (He was also there, which definitely made it extra special that they played it.) When they started playing it, everybody else looked confused, but me and my older sister started screaming hysterically and jumping around. We were actually going to see A Quick One live! We were scrwaming and singing along, and everybody in our section were just staring at us strangely. Haha. I think they were all thinking “What the fuck?” But I am very happy that I saw it live, as it was definitely a rare moment in a Green Day concert. (Also, when they began to play Castaway at one of the MSG concerts – forgot which one – me and my sister went crazy, while nobody else knoew what the fuck the song was. We’re just crazy-ass fans.) I also need to see Foxboro Hot Tubs once they (hopefully) come to NY. I was in the mosh pit once for Bowery (second row! wooh!), so I definitely need to get in the mosh pit again. The Hot Tubs would be the perfect opportunity. :-p

    • greendaymind

      Ha, classof13, that’s excellent that you had that special bonding moment with your dad over A Quick One. I like that.

      • classof13

        Thanks. He actually never wanted to see Green Day until 21sr Century Breakdown came out. (He kind of got addicted to the song Peacemaker. hehe.) So, them singing a Who song, who he’s seen in concert plenty of times, was just a gift to him, I guess. I think, from then on, he had a newfound respect for Green Day. (He would always make fun of them before, calling them Green Snot and stuff. Haha.) But, yeah, I compare my mosh pit concert at Bowery with his Who mosh pit concert all the time. lol. Oh, good times…

  • sallysimpson

    Few things make me scream like a schoolgirl, but when I heard the first few a cappella words of the song, I totally lost my mind. I turned to the unnamed but clearly well-informed fan next to me, “Oh my gosh! It’s ‘A Quick One!!!'” “I know, I know!!!” So I may have been standing next to one of the few real Who fans in the audience (oh to have been in the pit on that night). From my lofty seat (in the 400s) you could tell that many had no clue they were witnessing history — which probably could only be topped had Pete and Roger walked out on stage right then to chant “You. Are. Forgiven!” I still hold out hope for seeing that happen. Or a Who/Green Day multiconcert gig encompassing Tommy, Quad, American Idiot, and 21st Century Breakdown — performed on successive days at the Met.

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