BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Opening their Thursday night concert at the UC Theatre in Berkeley with “Know Your Enemy” from 2009’s “21st Century Breakdown”, Green Day was on the receiving end of nothing but love from an adoring hometown crowd just blocks away from 924 Gilman Street, one of the Bay Area music halls where the punk trio played some of their earliest shows on the way to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world on the way to their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Having most recently played more cavernous venues such as Oracle Arena, the Greek Theater and even AT&T Park when visiting the Bay Area, it was a treat to see the band in such an intimate setting as the recently reopened 1,400 person capacity theatre. Previewing material from their recently released 12th studio album, “Revolution Radio”, a solid 12 track effort about the current state of turmoil and chaos in America in addition to a slew of old favorites, the tightly packed rambunctious but friendly crowd showed significant familiarity with the new material in spite of it’s having been released just two weeks earlier.
Following up their opening number with a pair from the new album, “Bang Bang”, written from the perspective of a mass shooter and the title track, a pleasurable bombastic assault on the senses that was inspired by seeing a protest march in New York in the wake of the Michael Brown police shooting in Ferguson. “Revolution Radio” seems to feature more than a few tales of rebelling against society and the current state of our divided country during this polarizing election cycle. Transitioning to more well known older material such as “Holiday”, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Longview”, lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong didn’t attempt to downplay the bands local roots as evidenced by his comment on the potential Raiders move to Oakland. “Las Vegas Raiders ? Give me a fu#king break ! They finally get a good team and then it’s goodbye”……
The catchy new “Youngblood” followed suit maintaining the local angle. “Are you stranded, like I’m stranded ? / Do you wanna watch the world fall to pieces ? / Are you broken, like I’m broken ? / Are you restless she said: Fu#k You, I’m from Oakland !” Described as another song inspired by the Bay Area, “Welcome To Paradise” featured Armstrong bringing a young teen on stage to sing a key chorus before the youngster rejoined the crowd. The animated showman, often exhorting the crowd from atop an amplifier, executed numerous leaps while showing enough energy to conquer a stage ten times the size of the intimate venue.
More mellow compared to most of their continuing two hour, 27 song salvo of nonstop high energy, “When I Come Around” preceded “Basket Case”, signaling both an intensification of the band playing more recognizable hits and the concert entering it’s homestretch. A stellar medley of The Isley Brothers “Shout” highlighted by bassist Mike Dirnt strumming away while lying prone on his back segued into bits of “Lights” by Journey, “Have You Ever Seen The Rain”, “Satisfaction” and “Hey Jude”.
Tre´Cool’s driving drum beat propelled the new “Still Breathing”, an upbeat song about Armstrong’s personal issues that led him to check himself into rehab for substance abuse back in 2012. Next, the live debut of “Forever Now” signaled the end of the set. Returning for a four song encore, the power of “American Idiot” had the crowd in a frenzy that ”Jesus of Suburbia” maintained before the band retreated backstage again before reappearing a for a second and final encore. Both “Ordinary World”, an acoustic ballad that ends “Revolution Radio” and the last of six songs played from the album, presented solo by Armstrong, and the equally tranquil “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” brought the throng’s exuberance down to a manageable level before Dirnt and Cool carried the lively frontman offstage one final time by his arms and legs.
Green Day will be back at Oracle on December 10th as part of Live 105’s Not So Silent Night, and will likely return to headline again before ending their world tour that begins in Europe mid-January before taking them to Australia.