When a gig opens at 4pm in the afternoon, and you know you’re not going to be seeing Green Day until at least 8pm… Well, that’s a lot of anticipation for the opening acts to play through.
All Time Low entered with a bang to one of their biggest singles, ‘Lost In Stereo’, using the space afforded to them by the stadium stage to their advantage. Their music was polished, but there seemed to be a slight lack of energy to begin with: perhaps simply the curse of the opening act. By the time they hit ‘Time-Bomb’, however, the crowd had fully warmed up, and the evening’s atmosphere was well and truly set.
The group reeled off their latest title track (‘The Reckless And The Brave’), followed by two classics – ‘Weightless’ and ‘Dear Maria, Count Me In’ to finish off their performance. The members of All Time Low were musically tight, the vocals were strong, and their music boasted a lot of energy, which created a great live experience for the crowd, and provided a strong beginning to a huge show.
The Kaiser Chiefs were up next, bringing their brand of Northern indie-rock to London. Ricky Wilson is well-known for his stage presence, and he certainly didn’t disappoint, climbing the scaffolding and running lengths of the stage to create Mexican waves. Thankfully, the music didn’t suffer from such high-wire performativity: the band – quiet and almost-unnoticed behind their charismatic frontman – provided extended instrumentals while Wilson interacted with the crowd and built up a frenetic mood in the stadium.
As the band finished their set with hit after hit – ‘Ruby’, ‘I Predict A Riot’, ‘The Angry Mob’, and ‘Oh My God’ – they played seamlessly. The crowd sang along, chanted for the headliners at Wilson’s encouragement, and the scene was really set for the big arrival when they left the stage after a lively forty-five minutes.
After a half-hour wait (during which the entire crowd sang along to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ at the top of their collective lungs), Green Day took to the stage amidst the sounds of Ennio Morricone’s haunting soundtrack to The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. From the moment the group walked on, one could feel the positive influence that twenty years of creating widely-loved music has had on the band. They opened with ’99 Revolutions’ – the title track for their current tour – and the crowd sang along as if it was already a classic. However, the set didn’t merely function as a promotion for their recent triple-album release: Green Day wove together a concert that spanned a long and successful career, providing thrills for all in the process.
Billie Joe Armstrong is a consummate frontman: pop-punk’s answer to Freddie Mercury, a talented performer, and a man with huge love and respect for his fans. As Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool enjoyed jamming out an instrumental to ‘Know Your Enemy’ behind him, Armstrong pulled a fan up in a blue Union Jack morphsuit, letting him sing in front of 60,000 people, and probably giving him the night of his life. He was not the only lucky one, however: a young boy came up later with a paper sign on which he had written “GREEN DAY ROCKS” and drawn a heart-grenade; a girl got the chance to play guitar on an Operation Ivy cover; and one particular fan was given the privilege of singing ‘Longview’, and he took to the stage like a fish to water.
Green Day play music for the fans and not just for themselves… one fan is pulled up onstage to sing in front of 60,000 people, probably giving him the night of his life.
These are prime examples of what makes bands like Green Day so great: they play music for the fans and not just for themselves, unlike some successful musicians. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Axl.) They put together a set which was adored by longstanding fans and newbies alike; they interacted with the crowd; and they played with the enjoyment and absolute musical understanding of three people who have been creating music together for most of their lives. Few other bands out there today can match Green Day’s live synergy, let alone provide a show that can do so much. On this occasion, Armstrong and co. shifted from ‘Letterbomb’ to performing ‘King For A Day’ with an extended saxophone solo, with additional fancy-dress.
They clearly knew how to play to the crowd, how to change the energy levels to vary the mood and pacing, and keep a stadium full of people cheering for more throughout. It was the exact kind of show that you’d want from a band, and Green Day have achieved the feat of evolving from a raw pop-punk group to stadium-filling anthemic rockers without losing their integrity along the way: a rare and hugely impressive achievement.