Portland hardly needed the soaring 100 degree temperatures on Wednesday as Green Day brought enough flames and intensity to the Moda Center to fire up a mostly sold-out and rather excitable crowd.
It was a blistering performance highlighted by raucous guitars, slamming drums and contagious energy. Don’t let their seemingly immoderate angst and wannabe Sex Pistols persona fool you, Green Day plays rather exceptional, enjoys performing and singer Billie Joe Armstrong, especially, smiles quite a bit.
The rambunctious, sometimes bombastically asinine, 26-song set covered the core tracks off Dookie, a nice helping from American Idiot and of course a bunch from Revolution Radio, their 12th album out last year, along with fireworks, flames and even a curtain of sparks.
It was a mostly fun and often explosive (literally) evening as Green Day tore right into “Know Your Enemy” and two straight off the new record Revolution Radio – “Bang Bang” and the album’s title track. The great “Holiday” with that slick opening guitar sequence followed, simply ruled, but then got bogged down a bit with some inter-song extended play and a bit of sermonizing.
You already know their politics so the shouting of “No Donald Trump” shouldn’t come as a surprise. Yes, the political vomit spewed by artists and other like-minded Hollywood celebrities got old a while ago, especially considering the current state of affairs with the “who’s on first” routine playing out at the White House, (so as Armstrong said during one of many interludes, “We’re all in this together,” how about it then?) but thankfully his railing was brief, nailed both political parties and Green Day moved on with the show without further ado. At least on politics…
Despite the band’s infusion of driving rock chords, poppy rhythms and often easy time signatures on so many of their songs that have managed to cross generations of music lovers, a number of them lost the yummy flavor of the album version thanks to all the interruptions midway through. “Know Your Enemy, “Longview” and “Minority” just to name a few ebbed and flowed while “Hitchin’ a Ride” nearly derailed from all the stage antics.
Don’t you hate it when someone changes the station right in the middle of a song especially as the power chords build? That’s how it felt. A lot.
I lost count how many times Armstrong tried getting the crowd to chant “Hey Ho” (is that a thing?) and probably every song except “Ordinary World” he invited the audience to sing the main chorus or other parts of the lyrics. Twice he took time out to locate and invite a fan on stage to help finish vocal duties and during the Operation Ivy song “Knowledge” he gave an impromptu guitar lesson for another youngster who eked out the three-chord strum. No doubt lifelong memories for the three, but stop-and-go traffic breaks down even the most patient driver.
During an oldies cover song medley, the band opted to play prostrate as Armstrong at times rolled around while singing, well sort of singing. Yes, his antics were a bit comical, his personality certainly charismatic as he often engaged the audience, but unfortunately to the detriment of the natural pace and flow of the evening. It felt cumbersome at times and the respectable two hour and 15 minute show time felt much longer and not in a good way.
Not to worry though and hardly a loss as the music mostly outperformed the on-stage “entertainment.” “Welcome To Paradise” ripped , as did “Basket Case and “She” while “King for a Day” the second pick from “Nimrod” was a lot of fun. These guys bring so much liveliness and drive to the show that despite the sometimes wane, watching Armstrong bound around on stage like a caffeine addict is often zany fun.
Green Day, primarily a trio of Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool, brought along four touring musicians including guitarist Jason White, an actual member of the band from 2012 to 2016, who helped out on lead parts as well as soloing which he and Armstrong rocked out together on “2000 Lights Years Away” a solid take that bested the album original off 1992’s Kerplunk!.
Armstrong’s vocals at first sounded like perhaps he needed a day off between shows as the North American leg of their Radio Revolution Tour started the night before in Seattle but after a few songs it was evident he carries a “live” tone to singing especially on higher notes (i.e. he doesn’t really have the chops and requires the studio to sound good) but the lower register brought that familiar Green Day sound.
The opening set closed with two off the latest release, “Still Breathing” and the very reflective and surprisingly self-aware “Forever Now.” Green Day encored four songs, the final two ushered everyone off stage except Armstrong who had a stellar moment on the acoustic guitar playing “Ordinary World” the last track on Revolution Radio and closing the evening with the very appropriate smash hit and what’s likely a staple at graduation ceremonies everywhere “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)”
And, no doubt it was the time of their life for every one under 16, probably not for some chaperoning parents and for the rest of us a solid rock performance.
Green Day Revolution Radio Tour Setlist in Portland:
- Know Your Enemy
- Bang Bang
- Revolution Radio
- Boulevard of Broken Dreams
- 2000 Light Years Away
- Hitchin’ a Ride
- When I Come Around
- Welcome To Paradise
- Are We the Waiting
- St. Jimmy
- Basket Case
- King for a Day
- Shout/Satisfaction/Hey Jude Medley
- Still Breathing
- Forever Now
- American idiot
- Jesus of Suburbia
- Ordinary World
- Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)