Screaming. Cheering. Clapping. And so begins the historic Green Day show at Milton Keynes. Bullet in a Bible is both the DVD that documents the Keynes performance as a highlight in the American Idiot-fueled, Green Day sweeping of the word and a CD of the live performances on the DVD.
Directed by Samuel Bayer, the directorial force behind all of the music videos off of the Idiot album, the DVD offers a pretty accurate representation of a Green Day show. I was lucky enough to get to see one of the shows of the American Idiot Tour, and the footage captured on the DVD was in line with what I remember from seeing Green Day live: Tre Cool with his comic-relief sort of presence in the midst of his fantastically insane drumming; Mike, a strong and steady presence, but not without a fire in his bass playing; and Billie Joe's amazing ability to hold the crowd in the palm of his hand from first song to last, play his guitar in a whirl of talent and comfort, to sprint from one side of the stage to the other without losing anything in the vocals, and to keep punk rock fun, politically powerful without being overbearing, and infused with the proper dose of sexuality -- including an instance of stage-humping.
Throughout the show, Green Day proves why it is a band that has carved a place for itself in punk rock history, and the quality of the concert being shot on film adds to the legendary feel that this band projects, even from my fourteen-inch TV. The film allows for moments of on-screen depth and richness when the film shows, and whether it's the shots that are in color or black and white, the effect is seductive. Bayer makes his presence known not only in the color changes, but also in the quick switches between cameras. While this detracts some from the concert feel, I respect the talent with which Bayer pulls this off; he manages to replace some of the energy of actually seeing the show live with the dynamic camera work. Between the songs, Bayer cuts in band member commentaries and some backstage moments -- both of which contain sincerity, humor, a look at the California punks all grown up.
Also included is the tour that the band took of the Imperial War Museum, where the actual bullet in a bible is revealed. Although it would be nice to be able to watch the concert uninterrupted by the other footage, the quality of both is high enough that it's hard to complain about the shifts back and forth -- each moment is worth watching, regardless of the order.
As a live CD, Bullet delivers. Simple as that. Listening to the CD made me even more acutely aware of how well the sound at Keynes was captured for these recordings. The vocals and instruments are clear, and the voices and applause of the crowd are a testament to the spell that Green Day can place an audience under. The songs on the CD are the set list to a Green Day show of perfection, and include several Idiot tracks, the obligatory classics, and a fun cover of "Shout."
Bullet in a Bible captures a piece of the tour that had the world cheering for Green Day, and after watching Billie Joe don a crown for "King for a Day," all I have left to say is "All hail the king."