Green Day are the sort of band that lots of our generation grew up with. We were either the younger siblings hearing them mixed with the likes of Blink 182, Sum 41 and The Offspring, or we were the older sibling doing the influencing. They’re the sort of band that attracts us as well as the generations on either side: young kids who are getting into music for the first time and slightly older folk who were teenagers when Green Day first started all those years ago. They’re also the sort of band who can fill stadiums with ease and so many gig-goers keep coming back from more from them. 2013 is the year of the 99 Revolutions world tour, and on the 1st of June it stopped off at London’s Emirates Stadium for a two-and-a-half hour set spectacular.
First up were All Time Low but unfortunately I missed them so I can’t comment (from what I’ve heard it doesn’t sound as if they particularly lit the crowd up though). Kaiser Chiefs however were as much a ball of energy as when I last saw them several years ago despite the loss of ever-reliable dummer Nick Hodgson, especially as singer Ricky Wilson literally didn’t stop moving, from climbing up the stage’s scaffolding to running up and down the stage while the crowd did a Mexican wave several times. The first half of the set stormed through eight songs drawing from each of their four albums, before the final section really got the crowd going, with ‘Ruby’, ‘I Predict A Riot’, ‘The Angry Mob’ and ‘Oh My God’ almost acting as the big four sing-along singles and the latter in particular being drawn out to add in crowd interaction and get everyone ready for Green Day.
However, as good as their set ended up being, it just wasn’t a patch on Green Day, the band we all went to see who once again upped the energy and kept it going for the entirety of the set lasting from eight until half ten (although if anything the second half was bigger than the first). The whole thing was a pretty good balance of new songs from Uno, Dos and Tré with older ones from American Idiot and Dookie among others.
The set began with ’99 Revolutions’ from Tré, a song that I hadn’t realised was so big but they named the tour after it so the band obviously likes it a lot. It was ‘Know Your Enemy’ that really started things in a big way, with everyone seated being prompted to stand, a massive chorus and the first instance of both Billie Joe Armstrong’s infectious energy and the fan interaction that made for some amazing moments throughout the show. In this one, a guy in a Union Jack morph suit joined Billie Joe on stage to sing the last chorus (and got his autograph), and later on a kid with a sign saying “We love Green Day” went up to hold it, a guy sang the last section of ‘Longview’ with very impressive stage presence and a girl with pink hair was taught the chords for Operation Ivy’s ‘Knowledge’ to play along and got some great pictures with Billie Joe/the crowd that will surely forever be her Facebook cover photo! All of this is a great indicator of how the band made a massive stadium show feel a lot more intimate and exciting than a straight rock show might otherwise have been.
Individual song highlights would have to be ‘Oh Love’ for its infectious, rhythmic build, classics including ‘Hitchin’ A Ride’ and ‘Welcome To Paradise’, the fast-paced ‘St. Jimmy’, atmospheric sing-alongs ‘Basket Case’ and ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ and epic ‘Jesus of Suburbia’. Not forgetting ‘King for a Day’, bringer of the magnificent saxophone solo and fist-punching chant. As you can tell, I’m having trouble narrowing the highlights down. The mash up of ‘Shout’, ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’, ‘Teenage Kicks’ and ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ as begun by Tré Cool with the band dressed in crazy hats and glasses was just a ball of fun, especially when the entire band lay down on the ground as if for a rest before the encore (apart from Tré on the drums, obviously) but kept the rhythm going throughout. The pink bunny that got the crowd going before Green Day first came onto the stage also returned for a bit of extra fun.
I have only two niggles with the gig: one would be that ‘Brutal Love’ wasn’t a great song to close with; as enjoyable as it was, it was too steadily paced without particularly building anywhere to match up to the rest of the set list. With all of their epic songs, it felt a bit odd to finish on such a slow burner. Also, the sound in the top tier wasn’t great for the Kaiser Chiefs and the first part of Green Day’s set: I don’t know if it was just stadium acoustics, but the vocals should mostly have been louder, but at least it did get better partway through.
Otherwise, this was a truly incredible gig and well worth the long return journey to London. I now understand why Green Day’s live gigs have always been so raved about, and I would happily see them again if the opportunity arose; Billie Joe Armstrong declared how much fun he was having halfway through, and that was totally infectious. This was Frazer’s first big gig ever (as in bigger than a c. 280 capacity) and wow, what an amazing one to start with!