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Willow

Concert Reviews
Green Day
(Palace of Auburn Hills, MI - September 11th, 2005)

They've been referred to as the poster children of pop-core, the kings of punk-pop, and the voice of a generation. But to the members of Green Day, collecting labels never mattered and American kids have identified with both the motivation and the inspiration behind the music. Enough to buy some fourteen million Green Day albums.

Tonight, and in front of a packed-to-the-rafters arena, the band formed by front man Billie Joe Armstrong in Rodeo, California were prepared to give their collective all for their fans ... and then some! As a huge, 'drunk' pink bunny finally walks off stage to the sounds of the Ramones' infamous party chant 'Hey! Ho! Let's Go,' the lights quickly go down and the theme to '2001: A Space Odyssey' is unleashed unto the packed house.

Two-thirds of the back drop shunts to the ground, flags are raised, stage lights spiral, and then there they are: Green Day. Larger than life, eager to please, and as pumped up as any small child on a bottle of Ritalin, the trio and their fellow tour band members take their positions - leaving Billie Joe to stand atop his front stage soap box, guitar slung, arms splayed wide whilst the last chimes of the classical orchestration play out. Trust me, it was as breathtaking an entrance as any I had seen this year!

Kicking off the proceedings with 'American Idiot,' clad entirely in tight black attire, Billie Joe is quite simply the orchestrator supreme. Whether it be coaxing the audience into doing an early Mexican Wave, or having them have a left side Vs right side sing off, the diminutive front man has them at hello! "I want you to sing so f**kin' loud that every redneck in American hears you," he instructs them - and to which the 32,000 strong happily oblige from there on in.

Incorporating a series of stage explosions, fire pods, bright stadium-like lights, video screens, and much more, Green Day don't take any time to rest on stage. Especially the ever-energetic Billie Joe as he continually runs fully from one side of the stage to the other ... most times just to show the people of the side seats his masterly guitar-playing-behind-the-head skills! But, it's when he stands there, arms crossed towards the end of some songs, bass chords and drum beats still gently providing a backbeat, waiting for the crowds' voices to rise, rise, and rise further in adoration for their musical warrior heroes, that you quickly see just how much power this band has.

And, of course, in-between all these stage antics come the songs: 'Jesus Of Suburbia,' 'Holiday,' 'St. Jimmy,' 'Welcome to Paradise,' 'Hitchin' a Ride,' 'Basket Case' and more. But, and as much as the music is spot on and Billie Joe's vocals are as pitch perfect as any soundalike 10-packs-a-day smoker's could be, it's his continual dragging of the heavy mic stand to wherever he next wants to sing from; his endless stage darts from here, to there, to everywhere; his instructional audience one-handed (and in sync) sea of arm waves; and the like that make this entire show a spectacle of wonderment from start to finish.

And that is taken to a whole new height towards the end when Billie Joe prowls the stage enticing up from the audience a drummer, a bassist and a guitarist to take over from them, and to allow Billie to sing the end of a song instrument-free! The drummer and the bassist are found and seemingly know their stuff, but the female lead guitarist turns out to be a fake and is quickly replaced with a young man from Ohio. They instantly blend well, the song is sung, and Billie Joe hands the guitar off to the guy to keep ... and then asks the 'drummer' to do a stage dive!

Introducing the entire band, and jokingly(!) first naming himself George W. Bush (which was greeted with a rapturous backlash of boos!), then "My name is Kiiiiiiiiiiid ..." (which was greeted with semi-silence, save for Billie's own laughing!), and then finally "Nope, people just call me Asshole!" (which is met with a mighty roar of approval!), Green Day push ever on. 'Brain Stew' is next up followed by 'King For A Day,' and a sultry, sexy version of Lulu's '60s pop hit 'Shout!' Laying on the dirty floor, completely flat to the stage, the entire band (save for the drummer!) does their part in bringing the music 'down,' but as Billie Joe raises himself up (and now smothered in a regal cloak with royal crown atop his head!), he walks slowly out down his extended stage walk, kneels, bows, blows kisses, and fittingly ends the song under the single white glow of a high spotlight.

Bringing the entire show to an end after over an hour and a half's festivities with both 'Wake Me Up When September Ends' (dedicated to the heroes of September 11th) and 'Minority,' the band finally leave the stage. Quickly back, Billie Joe thanx the audience for having made them feel so welcome, throws in a quick political speech, and amidst a few more final stage explosions gives us 'Misery' and 'Boulevard Of Broken Dreams' before - once and for all - they are gone for good.

Review by Russell A. Trunk

Photos by Chris Schwegler - www.schwegweb.com

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