Green Day - live in New York [Monday and Tuesday] (Cover Artwork)

Green Day

live in New York [Monday and Tuesday] (2009)

live show

In May, when 21st Century Breakdown was released, Green Day played a week of shows in New York City to promote its release. Seeing them play in front of audiences that ranged from 200-1500 people, and how little the feelings of the shows differed was truly a sight to be seen and I didn't think I would ever have as good as a time as I did at those shows. Before then, I had only seen them in arenas, the last being Giants Stadium in 2005. And while I thought American Idiot was a monumental album, up until the last month of the tour cycle, there was a complete lack of spontaneity at the shows. Still, Green Day have always given me a reason to go back and back to see them. These two nights at Madison Square Garden were no different in that respect, and the best times I've seen them play.

Replacing the Bravery for this leg of the tour was Yorkshire, England's Kaiser Chiefs. I wasn't expecting much but their brand of new wave-y indie rock made for a fun set. Touching on their three albums, they played "Never Miss a Beat," "Ruby," "I Predict a Riot" and "Every Day I Love You Less and Less." On the second night, the singer said that there were two rules for being in a rock band. The second rule was, "Always say that the audience is better than the last night's." It was. No one yelled, "You suck!" on night two. After their half-hour set, we waited in eager anticipation of Green Day's Pink Bunny, who drunkenly stumbles on stage and chugs beer for the audience's amusement. After a few minutes, it left, "Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio?" by the Ramones played and then the lights went out.

The early shows on this tour seemed a bit disappointing when looking at the set lists, but that's to be expected, especially in a tour's early stages. About a week or two before the MSG shows, they had started showing some flexibility in the set list, throwing "Words I Might Have Ate" in before playing "Good Riddance," taking requests and even playing unreleased material. By the time they rolled into New York, the band seemed to have found its niche and right from the first song, Billie Joe owned the crowd as usual; Tre was his usual goofball self and Mike, as always, was somewhere in between. Throughout the shows, the pyrotechnics and arena antics were kept tasteful and not as over-the-top on the American Idiot tour.

The first half-hour of both nights was 21st Century Breakdown and American Idiot material. Each night, during the intro of "Before the Lobotomy," Billie Joe told a different amusing anecdote (one about jumping into the backseat of a car to beat someone up who yelled "Fuck you, Billie Joe! Green Day sucks!" at him from a car on Sunset Blvd., and the second about sleeping next to a human head after playing a squat in the early `90s), which is surprising given how choreographed even their stage banter usually is.

In the middle of "East Jesus Nowhere," a first-born son was brought on stage "to be saved." "The younger the better," Billie Joe said as he chose. As "Blvd of Broken Dreams" ended, so did the first part of the set and on night one, they jumped right into things with "2,000 Light Years Away" and "Welcome to Paradise." Requests were made both nights and one for "When I Come Around" prompted a "Fuck it!" from Billie and cheers for the old favorite. The second night, I brought signs for "Ha Ha You're Dead" and "Stuart and the Ave.", and to my surprise, Billie Joe played half of the first verse of the latter before forgetting the words. It was still thrilling to hear, as to my knowledge, neither song has ever been performed live.

On a personal note, the shows were also fun because Aaron Cometbus and Larry Livermore were both in the audience. I was fortunate enough to speak to both of them and say "Thank you" to Larry, who had a big smile on his face when "Who Wrote Holden Caulfield" was played. After the requests, the band ran through some Superhits. During "Jaded," the backdrop was a constantly changing collage of show flyers and 7" covers that highlighted bands from the East Bay scene to Fugazi and Bad Brains to the Sex Pistols. For "Longview," three kids were plucked from the crowd to sing each verse, reminding me at least that though Green Day regularly play arenas, they're a band that thrives on intimacy. Live staples "King for a Day" and the "Shout" medley were as fun as ever and the set proper was rounded out with "21 Guns" and "American Eulogy."

The encore both nights started with "American Idiot," but frankly, this made the shows for me: Before playing "Jesus of Suburbia" on night one, Billie Joe asked for a guitar player to play the song and being the sharp guy that I am, I took off my "Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash" t-shirt and waved it in the air to catch his attention. "I like your shirt," he says. Simultaneously, these guys next to me hoist me up and he walks over to me. Five feet away from each other with me leaning over the barrier, he asks me if I can play the song. I say, "Yeah." "You can play it?" "I fucking can!" Then he looks me right in my eyes and says, "You're a fucking liar!" into the mic and walks away. I have to give him credit. Truthfully, I only knew part I, but thought that's all he was asking for someone to play. The girl he picked played the whole song note for note.

"Minority" followed and as the confetti dropped and the song ended, Jason Freese, Jason White, Tre, Mike and Jeffrey left the stage leaving Billie alone. On night one, he gave us what is apparently an unreleased song from the 21st Century Breakdown sessions called "Drama Queen" and "Last Night on Earth," which actually included Jason White on slide guitar. On night two, he played "Macy's Day Parade" and an American Idiot-era song called "Olivia" that appeared in the "Heart Like a Hand Grenade" documentary. Both shows were closed with "Good Riddance."

For a band who, at their worst, are still one of rock's greatest live bands, Green Day might have played two of the best shows in their history. If you get a chance to see them on this tour, go. They aren't disappointing.

Fuck objectivity.

Set lists:
Night One:

  1. Song of the Century
  2. 21st Century Breakdown
  3. Know Your Enemy
  4. East Jesus Nowhere
  5. Holiday
  6. Static Age
  7. Before the Lobotomy
  8. Are We the Waiting
  9. St. Jimmy
  10. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
  11. 2,000 Light Years Away
  12. Welcome to Paradise
  13. 1/4 of "Castaway"
  14. When I Come Around
  15. Disappearing Boy [dedicated to his son Joseph]
  16. Sweet Home Alabama / Thank You [Led Zeppelin, dedicated to Larry doing acid in 1977] / Sweet Child O' Mine / Take Me Out to the Ball Game / 99 Bottles of Beer / Iron Man (riff)
  17. Brain Stew / Jaded
  18. Longview
  19. Basket Case
  20. She
  21. King for a Day
  22. Shout / Earth Angel / Swanee / I'll Be There
  23. 21 Guns
  24. American Eulogy
  25. American Idiot
  26. Jesus of Suburbia
  27. Minority
  28. Drama Queen (acoustic)
  29. Last Night on Earth (acoustic)
  30. Good Riddance
Night Two:
  1. Song of the Century
  2. 21st Century Breakdown
  3. Know Your Enemy
  4. Murder City
  5. East Jesus Nowhere
  6. Holiday
  7. Static Age
  8. Before the Lobotomy
  9. Are We the Waiting
  10. St. Jimmy
  11. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
  12. A Quick One While He's Away [in its entirety "for the first time on the tour and probably the last."]
  13. 3/4 of "Hitchin' a Ride"
  14. Welcome to Paradise
  15. Stop Drop and Roll (intro)
  16. Eye of the Tiger (clip)
  17. F.O.D.
  18. When I Come Around
  19. Going to Pasalacqua
  20. 10 seconds of "Stuart and the Ave."
  21. Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?
  22. Brain Stew / Jaded
  23. Knowledge [with the usual band-starting scenario, and for the first time on the tour]
  24. Basket Case
  25. She
  26. King for a Day
  27. Shout / Earth Angel / Christie Road / I'll Be There
  28. 21 Guns
  29. American Eulogy
  30. American Idiot
  31. Jesus of Suburbia
  32. Minority
  33. 3/4 of "Macy's Day Parade"
  34. Olivia
  35. Good Riddance