I've always wondered how Green Day would fare in a long concert. Their music is so relentlessly anthemic, I always wondered if they'd be able to sustain the electricity necessary for those kinds of songs -- especially for the audience.
So I caught their kickoff concert for its world tour last night at Key Arena in Seattle. And you know what? They somehow pull it off.
Now, Billie Joe Armstrong was quoted in the Seattle Times as vowing to put on five-hour shows on this tour, and last night was only three and a half hours, including the warmup act, The Bravery. But no one really cared, because it was probably the most sustained high-energy performance most of us have seen in years.
How did they manage to keep it electric? By connecting with the audience.
The band opened with a number of selections from 21st Century Breakdown, but quickly began sprinkling in hits from American Idiot (including "Holiday," which I managed to catch on rather grainy vid). If you were coming for the Green Day hits alone, you went away sated, because they were all there. ("Basket Case" in particular was awfully good.)
But Billie Joe made it work by working hard to connect to the audience. In this video, you can see him calling a 10-year-old up onstage to help with the dancing. At other times, he invited audience members up to sing, too, with varying degrees of success, but it was cool. And in what looked like it could have been a classic prearranged stunt, he even had one young audience member climb up onstage and play the rhythm guitar part for "Jesus of Suburbia." Rather well, I might add.
It might have been schtick, but it worked. The audience was electrified, and the music made it even more so. It was a great, great show. If the rest of the dates on the tour are up to this level of play, it should be a very good tour indeed.