Green Day: high voltage rock

IN the car on the way to the Brisbane leg of Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown Tour, with my eager 11-year-old son in tow, the conversation inevitably turns to the best concert I’d ever seen.

It’s an easy one to answer – U2’s Under a Blood Red Sky tour at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in 1984.

This was long before the Irish band turned into a ‘supergroup’ and were still in their ‘protest’ phase with Sunday, Bloody Sunday becoming an anthem of the times.

In didn’t matter that our seats were in the last row, at the very back of the Sydney Entertainment Centre, everyone was on their feet from the moment ‘the Edge’ picked out the first distinctive notes on his guitar.

Fast forward to Green Day at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on December 8.

Pocket rocket lead singer and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong hops on stage and can’t quite stand the fact that people are sitting down. He exhorts them to get up as this is no ‘f.....g tea party’.

And it isn’t. What follows is two and a half hours of high energy, high voltage rock and roll. All the favourites are there: Holiday, American Idiot, Boulevard of Broken Dreams. You name it, Green Day play it.

The band also acknowledges AC/DC as the ‘best f.....g band in the world’ as they whirl through the first verse of Highway to Hell.

Aussie rockers Jet played a tight set of about 10 songs as the curtain-raiser, but this was Green Day’s night.

Billie Joe was in a frisky mood. Every second word began with ‘f’, he spoke of wanting to have sex and dry-humped the stage.

In between, the diminutive star ran non-stop from side-to-side and down the middle runway and mentioned ‘Brisbane’ so often, I wondered whether it was to remind himself which city he was in.

He also broke the ‘no crowd surfing’ rules. There were plenty of signs up saying not to do it, but Billie Joe is all for group participation. He let audience members play his guitar, sing a whole song on their own, have their photo taken with him, before letting them dive off stage and into the waiting arms of the capacity crowd.

Along with the usual pyrotechnics, there were some great props including giant water guns and an air cannon that blew T-shirts into the very far reaches of the stadium.

Two encores and it was done. The concert ended with a solo acoustic version of Time of Your Life.

For me U2’s 1984 concert remains the best ever, but for my son, I’m sure Green Day, 2009, will be hard to beat.

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