For new Green Day fans, the Revolution Radio tour is an exciting experience — their energetic music and on-stage antics create a memorable experience. But, since the band has been successful for 30-plus years, many Green Day fans have already seen them play. For those concert-goers, the performance will seem like a rerun, with lead singer and guitarist Billy Joe Armstrong recycling many of the hype-up techniques that he has been using for years.
The repetitiveness is clear even before the band takes the stage. The show opens with someone in a bunny costume frenetically dancing to The Ramone’s “Blitzkrieg Bop” before being dragged offstage by their ankles. Then the theme music from the film “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” kicks in before they dive into their first song. This was amusing on the 99 Revolutions Tour when they did the exact same thing, but it feels worn out this time around.
The staleness is most apparent when the band plays a string of pre-*American Idiot* tracks in the middle of the concert: “2000 Light Years Away,” “Hitchin’ a Ride,” “When I Come Around,” “Burnout,” “Waiting,” “Scattered,” and "Minority.” These short and raucous songs would be fun at a small venue but don’t translate well to a large arena. Also, their earlier work features a pretty straightforward and simple sound and structure compared to the more diverse musicality of their last several albums. This quickly becomes monotonous and would have stood out more had there been fewer of the old songs and had they been spread out over the concert.
But these songs would have seemed less redundant had the band tore through them in three minutes each. Instead, these songs are also hurt by Armstrong’s tired schtick in which he chants “ay-oh” and then prompts the crowd to repeat after him. Not only has Armstrong been doing this for years, but he does it at least once every song. This routine quickly becomes annoying, and these short peppy songs start to drag.
The first half of the concert did have some highlights. During “Holiday,” Armstrong launched into a moving and passionate speech that is a response to the new president and his talk on unity and love brought the crowd together. (Later in the show he also shouts “F*** you, Donald Trump!”) He also brings several fans onstage to sing, play guitar, and go crowd surfing — something he has done in the past but is always enjoyable because each person reacts differently. Finally, the Revolution Radio tour makes heavy use of pyrotechnics, with dazzling sparks showering down behind the band during a couple of songs and powerful explosions that were sometimes even coordinated with the music throughout the concert. These detonations sent shock waves to even the worst seats, and caught the audience by surprise every time.
Two-thirds of the way through the concert, Green Day finally captures the energy that blasts listeners away on their albums. At the tail end of the string of early songs, with “Basket Case” and “She,” Armstrong ditched the “ay-oh,” preventing the songs from dawdling as they blew through the songs at a blistering pace. Green Day then mixed it up with the jaunty, saxophone-driven “King For A Day” which revved up the crowd, especially when they went into a bizarre medley of covers which included the Isley Brothers rhythm and blues tune “Shout” (best known from Animal House) as well as Monty Python’s silly “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life” and rock classics “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Hey Jude.” While Green Day has done this in the past, the saxophone in “King For A Day” and the sultry and blaring solo played during the medley is a nice break from the guitar-heavy concert. For the final two songs of the main set, they played two stand-out songs from Revolution Radio: the hopeful, melodic “Still Breathing” and anthemic and layered “Forever Now.” (The band should have played more Revolution Radio tracks, like “Say Goodbye” or “Troubled Times,” in place of the earlier songs.)
The four song encore, however, was by far the show’s peak. After playing fan-favorite “American Idiot,” Green Day launched into the operatic, nine-minute “Jesus of Suburbia,” which was played with vigor and enthusiasm. Finally, Billy Joe Armstrong closed it out with two acoustic tunes. He started with his new song “Ordinary World” and finished with the popular “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” With just Armstrong and his guitar, the songs sounded pure, and his expressive voice rang clear through the arena as confetti fluttered through the air. While Armstrong’s tired schtick and the repetitiveness of the early songs created a doldrums during the middle of the show, it finished on the strong note.
The band took the stage this Saturday at the Peterson Event Center, and brought all their energy form Brooklyn with them. With a college-student heavy audience, the repetition was not as evident, and the hype was just as it would have been years ago. How the band has managed to endure this long is apparent, and they've managed to hold on to the vibes that came to life in their earlier work. If you haven't seen the eyeliner clad trio yet, go for it while you have the chance. It's bound to be the time of your life.