Green Day | 08.11.09

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live_green-day.jpgCurrent Kings of the Heyyyy-Ohhhhhh, Green Day have grown into one of the most entertaining big-scale rock outfits in business today.

 

 

Scottrade Center, St. Louis

Just how many call-and-response "Heyyyy-ohhhhhh"s can be crammed into a two-and-a-half-hour modern-day arena-rock spectacular? Oh, god. A lot. Luckily, current Kings of the Heyyyy-Ohhhhhh, Green Day, while having amassed, sure, a couple of tired rock clichés in their goody bag, have also grown into one of the most entertaining BIG-SCALE rock outfits in business today. With a blistering, "Get out of your seats! This isn't television! This is a fucking Green Day gig!" strangely poufy-haired singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong took the adoring, spazzed-out, mostly teen crowd by their fake lip rings and didn't let 'em go until they had "Heyyyy-ohhhhhh"d to his lil' black heart's content (or at least until two-and-a-half hours had passed). And thus began Green Day's St. Louis stop of their 21st Century Breakdown tour at Scottrade Center, a spectacle the likes of which hasn't been seen since the last Crue show at Verizon Wireless. The Flames! The Flashpots! The Costumes! The Classic Rock Covers! The "Piss-Drinking" Stories! (1) Somebody repaint my singed brows and please pass another $12 beer. (Burp.)

After a prolonged hand-slapping/high-fivin' meet 'n' greet intro accompanied by the piano chords of 21st Century Breakdown's sunny title track, the band kicked into high gear by following with the stunning machine-gun stutter of "Know Your Enemy." An early highlight (and a Pillars of Flames ShowcaseTM), "Enemy" was brought to a screeching halt momentarily when Armstrong stopped the band in mid-power chord to yell at a security guard for shining his flashlight at a girl trying to take a picture. That girl? Died and gone to heaven. (Billy really LOVES her!) From there it was clear that the audience wouldn't be taking a passive role in this night's entertainment. The most memorable interaction came during yet another bridge breakdown, this time in the tent revival-themed take of 21st Century's "East Jesus Nowhere," when a bunny-eared Armstrong pulled a tiny six-year-old from the many-armed throng for an old-fashioned "soul saving." After asking the girl her name (Alison), he asked her where from? and she sweetly answered, "Chicago." After a hearty BOOing from the sweaty congregation, he chuckled and said, "You don't happen to be a Cubs fan, do you?" A sweet moment followed when Armstrong—before "saving" the girl with ye olde slap on the head and a drop to the floor—serenaded her with a bit of Elvis Costello's "Alison."

The most entertaining audience interaction moment occurred later in the set, however, during the band's '90s bored-masturbation anthem "Longview," when Armstrong picked two kids out of the audience to sing the verses. The first girl took to the catwalk like a pro, albeit a very, very out of tune pro. The second kid, a good-sized, long-haired, be-shorted and booted male, fared better—singing slightly more on key than his predecessor—until he decided to end the song by barreling down the catwalk and stage-diving like a 200-pound torpedo into a mashed-up group of underfed middle schoolers. Every person in the room said "Ooooooh..." and nobody said shit until the goony kid surfaced a few seconds later. Once he waved to the crowd to signify he wasn't dead (or, one would hope, standing on newly dead), Armstrong said, "You stupid motherfucker."

After a powerhouse 70 minutes showcasing muscular takes on mostly newer songs like "The Static Age" (2) and "Before the Lobotomy"—culminating with a block of the old-school '90s hits "Welcome to Paradise," "When I Come Around," "Brain Stew" and "Basket Case"—the show took a few unexpected turns, some tedious, including a costumes-and-silly-hats shtick for a rave-up of 1997's Nimrod's dorky high-stepper "King for a Day." Note to band: Please retire your costumes and silly hats very soon. Remember, unless you are Monty Python, silly turns sad at 40. (Okay, in this case, 37.) Armstrong intro'd the song in police gear, announcing himself as the St. Louis Police, called here tonight to investigate reports of marijuana smoking, drinking and underage sex (the pimpled among us cheered loudest for the last one). This spectacle eventually segued into a looooong cover of "Shout" with...guess what? Another breakdown sing-along section, this time with Armstrong prostrate on the catwalk, moaning out the lyrics to the Doors' "Break on Through" and Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'." Note to band: Please stop playing wedding reception songs. I can go my entire life never hearing "Shout" again. People, please. (Mind you, most in the audience were eating that shit up.)

The band veered back on course for a powerhouse set ender of two standout 21st Century tracks: the rain-of-sparks-infused "21 Guns" and the monster closing track, "American Eulogy (Mass Hysteria/Modern World)," with the crowd of cell-phone-camera-fisted kids singing (and probably texting) along with the yelping refrain "I don't wanna live in the modern world" with not a hint of irony.

After the crowd-pleasing "American Idiot," the encore lost shitloads of steam (not an actual scientific measurement; don't look it up) with a shufflin'-crawdaddy-groove-Jimmy-Buffett-bullshit assisted take of "Minority" that just went on and on with an accordion showcase and Armstrong on a harmonica. Chills! (Of the wrong kind.) Why not choose something from their extensive cannon with a little more fuckyeah—or even a new song like, say, the scorching 21st Century track "Horseshoes and Hand Grenades"? (End with bang = good! End with suck = no good!) But, heck, whatever—they had the confetti blowing and the flashpots flashin', and the kids were shitting themselves in ecstasy.

Armstrong ended the encore sans band (3), taking an acoustic guitar to the catwalk stage for Warning bonus track "Macy's Day Parade," Dookie's "Coming Clean" and Nimrod's ubiquitous radio hit "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)," bidding the smitten crowd farewell with the refrain, "I hope you had the time of your life." The exhausted audience answered in the affirmative. | Brian McClelland

 

(1) As an "intro" to "Before the Lobotomy," Armstrong told a "story," saying that when he was a kid and bathing with his brother, his brother accidentally (?) peed into his mouth and he drank it. He closed the overshare by deadpanning, "I've gotta tell you, I've drank piss several times since then, and honestly? It's not for me."

(2) 21st Century's "The Static Age" featured a balls-out sax solo and people dug it. (Best Sax Solo since...wait, that was a trick question.) Hall & Oates, I hope you're listening and dusting off your pleated pants, cuz apparently your shit's just about to get all hot again.

(3) Yes, indeed, I do realize that there are more people in Green Day than Mr. Armstrong—drummer Tre Cool and bassist Mike Dirnt are tighter and more explosive than ever, and the additional three guys on stage (on guitar, keyboards, accordion, saxophone and backing vocals) were key in bringing the newer, more ambitious arrangements to life—but there could be no doubt that this was anything but the Billie Joe Show.

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