This has been hard to write because frankly, it was perfect. How do you express perfect? Hmmm…well, perfect except for a few hiccups here and there, but nonetheless, perfect. Thanks, Green Day, for a great night!
New York, Madison Square Garden, July 28, 2009
When I left work early at 1:30 PM and took the F train the two stops from 14th to 34th, I had a giddiness of step that was lighthearted and single-minded: I knew I was going to have a good time.
And I did.
Through the members-only Idiot Club (how ‘elitist’ does that sound, bwhaaha), I was able to get GA tickets for this show when they were released about two weeks prior. I saw the email and I could not resist. I’m glad I didn’t.
Through the Idiot Club, Green Day Community and NothingWrongWith Me.com and a few other sites, I have met other like-minded Green Day fans from all over the world. I highly recommend checking these and other fans sites out if you are interested in following the band and the tour. (I’ll eventually add more links when I get a chance.) Just stick to Green Day and forget about any human friction that may take place. The people on these sites may have Green Day in common, but each site has a different flavor and unique participants. My motto through it all: I stick to Green Day if and when tensions break out.
From Albany and this second MSG, I met folks from Venezuela, Toronto, Albany, New Jersey, New York, and California and nearly missed one from Great Britain. It’s been so long since the band made an album or went on tour that there is a palpable electric current on the boards and at the shows.
I was especially happy to meet ChristhyneS from Venezuela. ChristhyneS and I had started a conversation in a MSG thread prior to new tickets going on sale as I was trying to find someone with an extra ticket that I could purchase. ChristhyneS emailed me when a new batch of tickets went on sale, and I quickly got home to purchase one General Admission ticket before they disappeared. I think I walked/ran the entire way from the subway to my door and computer.
ChristhyneS brought a Venezuelan flag with her for Billie to fling, which he eventually did. I believe this show may have produced the third Spanish/Hispanic country flag he’s had on the tour, if I remember correctly: Spain, Brazil, and at this show, Venezuela. This may be a partial list. I also had the opportunity to meet the lady in Albany who was selling t-shirts, Sweet Geraldine, and her friend BillieJoesEntourage, who had come in from Toronto. I’d like to also give a special shout out to Morgan, who caught one of Mike’s pics and gave it to me because she already had one. Thanks!
By any means necessary. Sometimes that’s just the way it is. I borrowed my bosses’ Verizon Blackberry in order to experience soundcheck. I also left work early and got in line at 2:00. (Thanks, work!).
I wrote about the sacredness of rehearsal and soundcheck for the performer in an earlier post, so needless to say, I was quite excited that I was able to attend. However, the excitement quickly turned for the worse when we finally got into the empty Madison Square Garden to see the band. Two girls sitting directly in front of me kept taunting Tré about being in some video that they wanted to make, and generally were annoying. The Verizon people had said we could dance and interact a bit with the band, but they were so annoying that I felt constrained in my enthusiasm due to sheer embarrassment. I’m pretty sure that they annoyed the band, too.
Anyway, we were treated to “Murder City” (which they played at the show!), “Scattered,” a bit of “Macy’s Day Parade,” “21st Century Breakdown,” “King for a Day, ” a bit of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and “American Eulogy.” There was conversation about doing “Knowledge,” so it was not surprising to me when they did that at the show instead of “Longview.” (Doing “Knowledge” fulfilled audience-participation “requirements,” if you will, because we were treated to Billie himself playing and singing the majority of “Jesus of Suburbia” except for “Dearly Beloved” that night.) Shortly thereafter, we got kicked out. Billie started talking into a monitor mike that only the band could hear, and I knew we were about to get the boot. I don’t know how long the soundchecks last, probably not that long, but I had heard that the band interacted a little with the people, but they didn’t really say anything to us, though Tré gave a boy a pair of drumsticks, as usual. I blame the girls, why not? We were escorted to a sports bar in MSG where we got food and a t-shirt (thank goodness, because I had no money for any of the t-shirts I wanted to buy), played games and generally waited for showtime. When they finally let us in, I stupidly got a beer instead of heading straight to the rail, so I ended up being in the second row of bodies at the barrier. Stupid, stupid, stupid. But damn, did I need that beer!
Hands down, this was the best concert I’ve ever been to. It rivaled the massive pranking and physical energy of Albany and overwhelmed my sense of disappointment at MSG1’s lousy seats in the 300s section at MSG1. I was in the second row at the barrier, a little to stage right of long-legged Mike with a great view of Tré’s drumming and facial expressions. A good spot, despite the beer. Thanks to those who saved me this spot!
The most unexpected surprise of the night came when they played “A Quick One While He’s Away” by The Who for the first (and probably the last) time, “Tell Me When It’s Time To Say I Love You,” (an unreleased AI record that some people mistook for “Olivia,” which I’ve never heard), “Stuart And The Ave./ Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?“, “Going to Pasalacqua,” and “When I Come Around.” They did only a snippet of “Stuart” since lyric guy forgot the words, and they had played “When I Come Around” at MSG1. They finally broke out a new song from 21st Century Breakdown, “Murder City,” which made me extremely happy. (They also played this in San Antonio.) I was hoping to hear at least one more song from the new album particularly “Peacemaker,” or one of the album’s two “Glorias.” Come on guys, you can do it, I know you can!
I very much enjoyed “A Quick One,” but there was a reason why Billie said it was their first and last time doing it: it probably sucked the energy out of the room on the upper levels and for those who had no clue what the hell was going on. “A Quick One” is one of four iTunes bonus tracks from 21st Century Breakdown (the other three: Social Distortion’s “Another State of Mind,” Arthur Crudup’s “That’s Alright Mama,” and Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”) and while I don’t listen to the four covers on this edition very often, I do enjoy them every once in a while. “A Quick One” has several tempo changes and is a melodramatic song, right up Green Day’s alley. But at 7:58, it rivals “Jesus of Suburbia.” I think at least one of the bonus iTunes should be played, though I’d rather hear Social Distortion’s “Another State of Mind.” What I would really like to hear are the two bonus tracks from the CD version of the new album, “Hearts Collide,” and “Lights Out” in particular.
“A Quick One While He’s Away”
I can’t remember exactly when Billie started playing a snippet of “Stop, Drop, and Roll” from the Foxboro Hot Tubs, but the band looked at him like he was crazy for a second and then he started laughing and broke out an “Eye of The Tiger” riff. This was preceded by a strong performance of “Welcome to Paradise,” which made me break once again into a manic dance and followed by a song that I wanted to hear live and had made me deeply regret not going to the Hartford show: “F.O.D.”
This song is somewhat a motto of my life. It starts out very innocently and coyly, with Billie breaking the bad news to an unknown entity (friend, lover, parent?) that their time together has been some sort of ‘fun,’ but it was now time to cut off their relationship. First, he has to get something off of his chest: “You’re just a fuck… I can’t explain it ’cause I think you suck… I’m tak… ing pride…in telling you to fuck off and die.” Of course, I think Green Day would say this to someone’s face, but me, I’ve often thought of it, particularly when it comes to politicians and religious leaders. I was pleased to hear this song live at least once, since they didn’t play it in San Antonio, either.
At MSG1, Billie relinquished his guitar for “Jesus of Suburbia” to the amazing Mademoiselle Stephanie. There is no question that she rocked the song hard on Monday night, prompting Billie to scream “I fucking love you,” particularly after she added her own flair to the final guitar riff. Billie also relinquished his guitar for “Jesus of Suburbia” at Albany, and I was happy with that as well. At Good Morning America, Billie played the entire song and let an audience member sing “Dearly Beloved.” At MSG2, Billie put his foot down and informed the crowd that “he” was going to play the song that night, and frankly, I’m glad he did. He again let a woman from the audience sing “Dearly Beloved” but it was a pleasure to hear him perform the song and not have to coach someone else while he’s pouring his heart out at the same time. To me, this was a special treat and one of the moments I take away the most with this show. “Jesus of Suburbia” was not on the setlist for San Antonio.
For MSG2, I was slightly stage right of long-legged Mike and had a great view of Tré’s drums. I love Tré’s drumming, as well as Mike’s wicked bassline. When both of these guys get into their grooves they cannot be beat. They are a tight machine and have amazing accuracy of sound between an album and a live show. I particularly am fond of watching Tré drum, and I’m pretty sure I made him laugh hard at one point. I was standing next to a girl with long, stringy hair that she had down. It felt like a ton of wet spiderwebs and kept clinging to my own wet, sweaty skin. At one point, pieces of it flew into my mouth, and I have a bad hair-in-the-mouth gag reflex. All of a sudden I started clawing at my tongue trying to get it out and get her hair away from me at the same time. I looked up at the stage and Tré was looking directly at me, laughing with a look of “what the hell?” on his face. I don’t remember if I pointed to her hair or not, but it took half the song to get it out of my mouth, it was that wispy and gross. I finally told her during the show that the next time she came to a concert in close proximity to people, she should put her hair up. I wanted to say, “cause it’s a fucking pain in everyone’s ass,” but I restrained myself. F.O.D. came to my mind, but we were at a concert, enjoying it, so I restrained myself again. Wonderful Mike bounced a pic off my chest (there was no other way I was going to grab that tiny thing), and I made every one stand back when it hit the floor at my feet so that I could pluck it from the ground.
Billie Joe Armstrong - Madison Square Garden, July 28, 2009
“King for a Day” is always a classy… um…. song, and tonight’s edition was no different. My favorite “King for a Day” that I’ve seen this tour would be from Albany, as Billie and Jason Freese on sax were joined by two members of The Bravery, one of whom had on very short shorts and a plaid shirt tied at the waist and the other a frilly little skirt and parasol that went well with his full beard. Billie usually gets all kinds of frilly things from the audience during the show and tonight at MSG was no different. There were several pairs of sunglasses (one white pair that was mine, excellent throw and catch, I must say), two pairs of heart-shaped glasses, an exceptional baseball cap (that no one got a picture of, boo), a leopard print scarf that I brought, a blond wig and a fabulous pink boa. He looked like a hot mess, particularly with the kazoo.
Billie Joe Armstrong at Madison Square Garden during King for a Day. Photo by Naomi Lir
As mentioned earlier, the band also played a previous staple from past tours, Operation Ivy’s “Knowledge” at MSG2. I’ve never seen them completely interchange the band live with audience members before, but I have seen video from Bullet in a Bible as well as Germany’s Rock AM during the American Idiot tour. Since they had mentioned it during soundcheck, I was pretty sure that they would do the song that night, and was not too surprised when Billie announced it. The audience band was pretty good, with the drummer attempting to break out into riffs and Tré popping him upside the head every time he did it, and a young (maybe 14) bass player who boldly went down the catwalk and screamed out “Thank you Madison Square” at the end of the number. He was so good that Mike gave him a bass that night, the first time I’ve seen them on this tour do that. The female guitarist that Billie picked caused a bit of a brouhaha when she got on stage and grabbed Billie’s face in a kiss and didn’t let go. The audience got kinda of silent and it looked as though Billie lost himself for a split second and seemed to kiss her back, something he does all the time with guys, though maybe not for that long. It was a bit awkward as a light went on in Billie’s head (hey, he is a guy, afterall) and he pulled away. The next day the Boards were harsh in regards to the young lady, and even I thought it was a bit untoward when I thought about it that night. She fought back hard and noted the hypocrisy of the commentators, who cheer on the boys when they stick their tongues down Billie’s throat and scream about inappropriateness when it comes a girl who is bold enough to do it, too. She had a legitimate point. I finally wrote: you go, girl, you go.”
Billie Joe Armstrong receiving a request from an audience member
A word about the setlist that I’ve noticed over the shows, and that’s how they seem to break them up into distinct acts, as Green Day is always into the theatricality of their performance. The setlist, to me, is broken up into the largest chunks by decades, those songs by Green Day from the 21st century, American Idiot (2005) and 21st Century Breakdown (2009) and those songs from the decade where the majority of their music comes from, the 20th century. This show had an interlude (“A Quick One While He’s Away”), and their final ‘act’ before the encore ties up the show and brings it back to the present, with the combination (though they have changed this up at some shows) of “21 Guns” and “American Eulogy.”
A fine setlist and an almost three-hour show. I could not have asked for anything more.
Act One: 21st Century
1. Song of the Century
2. 21st Century Breakdown
3. Know Your Enemy
4. Murder City
5. East Jesus Nowhere
7. Static Age
8. Before the Lobotomy
9. Are We the Waiting
10. St. Jimmy
11. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
12. A Quick One While He’s Away (The Who)
Act Two: 20th Century
13. Hitchin a Ride
14. Welcome to Paradise
15. Stop, Drop, and Roll/ Eye of the Tiger
17. When I Come Around
18. Going to Pasalacqua
19. Stuart And The Ave./ Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?
20. Iron Man riff
21. Brain Stew
24. Basket Case
26. King For a Day
27. Shout/ Earth Angel (The Penguins)/ Christie Road / I’ll Be There
Act Three: Present
28. 21 Guns
29. American Eulogy
30. American Idiot
31. Jesus of Suburbia
33. Macy’s Day Parade
34. “Say I Love You”
35. Good Riddance
San Antonio, TX, AT&T Center, August 9
I unexpectedly attended the August 9 show in San Antonio. I flew into Austin from JFK that morning, got a rental car and booked it to San Antonio. This show is a bit blurry as I was so tired by the end of it, but I’m very proud of my barrier bruise. I’ll write more about it when I get the chance.