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Green Day by John Robb

In a blur of powerful, anthemic songs, a stunning LED backdrop, hardcore rushes, massive ballads, serious commentary and daft stunts, Green Day arrive at the sold out 30 000 plus capacity Old Trafford cricket ground on a balmy Mancunian evening...
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    In a blur of powerful, anthemic songs, a stunning LED backdrop, hardcore rushes, massive ballads, serious commentary and daft stunts, Green Day arrive at the sold out 30 000 plus capacity Old Trafford cricket ground on a balmy Mancunian evening in a show of strength that seems to be beyond the mainstream media sense of belief.

   The band’s stunning, almost two hour show is 21st century rock n roll perfection. Somehow they have managed to scratch the fabric of their constituent sound and made it work in a variety of styles that would be way beyond most bands. They have the adventure of the Clash and the Beatles- two constituent influences but have very much moved in their own no barriers direction without the associated genre fear that hampers so many bands.

    Their song writing talent and ability to communicate with a huge section of the public has made them one of the biggest bands in the world today and they are using the space they have been given very well.

There are moments in this spellbinding show that are simply beyond belief.

Green Day have taken the emotional highs and lows of a rock n roll concert and turned them into something else. Somehow they manage to combine slapstick humor, goofy neo teen pranks, fierce pop punk, heart breaking ballads, blinding introspection and stadium bombast and sometimes all these in one song. They are at ease with massive anthems like ‘American Idiot’ that stuck it to the right wing pro war media jocks and was still a huge hit, they can deal out a massive ballad or a hardcore thrash oor the neo Marilyn Manson glam stomp of ‘East Jesus Nowhere’. That they can also thread these into some sort of narrative is their true genius. They can do the ‘Abbey Road’ style bits of songs made into one huge long monster song thing with ease- they can also do this and make it a mosh pit friendly 13 minutes of musical nirvana really underlines their skill.

    The band can play tough, the rhyme section is superb and Billie Joe is one of the best songwriters operating in modern rock n roll who despite his mass success still has the knack to communicate with the small town neurosis and paranoia that is at the heart of his huge constituency. Armstrong is a twitchy prense with a low boredom threshold, disgusted at the world his songs are stuffed fill of punk rock polemic but they also switch from style to style with the hyperactive ease. A green day song may start of punk rock biut could switch anywhere within thirty seconds- itys wouldn’t work but it does. Brilliantly.
And this is a show.

There is an incredible light show on LED screens that is easily the best I have ever seen. stark, dark and comic book brilliant it subtly underlines the proto power of the songs and helps to fill the stadium with a sound and vision taking you onto a trip into the heart of America.    Somehow Green Day manage to entertain and blow your mind...

    They are more than ably supported by Joan Jett who has been given some spotlight with the upcoming Runaways film. Joan Jett who still looks effortlessly sassy, sexy and cool at 51 has been touring her greatest hits set for years but still plays the songs with such a power and passion that they could have been written yesterday. Her supreme voice that sounds like it has been tarmacced by rock n roll cuts through the huge PA and the band’s glam rock n roll stomps makes her, oddly, the last survivor of that very British strain of glam rock that was the true sound of the early seventies. The youthful Jett would hang out in the glam clubs in LA in the mid seventies soaking up the British glamtastic rock n roll that was far different from the American glam that was to follow.

    Instead of the clumsy appropriation of glam from the likes of Kiss and the LA hair bands British glam was stompingly dark, good time music with tribal beats and big choruses, no-one does this music any ore apart from Jett who adds a rock n roll vim and fire to the mix and has created a music that perfectly suits her no bullshit personae. A personae that has seen her lauded as one of the key mentors of the riot Grrrl scene and a cool elder stateswoman of the movement that is still strong at a grass roots level. Joan Jett wanted to play rock n roll on her own terms and succeeded. Her cover of the Arrows ‘I Love Rock Roll ‘- a ‘b’ side from the last great mid seventies glam band is still a totemic moment and one of THE great rock n roll anthems, when she does that guttural scream thing in the middle it still affects your groin in a strange and beautiful way, a way that is the key to all great rock n roll.
Joan Jett rules and its now time for us to acknowledge this.

Green Day, also have some history. The band may still look like teen brats but they have been around for over two decades.

  It's been a long time since I was comparing a gig at the legendary and just shut TJs venue in Newport. The first band on were some awkward scruffy kids from San Francisco playing a speedball punk pop set to 20 fanatics. They were bottom of some long lost punk rock bill.   

    Green Day that night were plying their trade in that curious gap that existed just after Nirvana. Cobains band had reawakened interest in punk rock and a generation of kids were looking for a Nirvana of their own having just missed out on the visceral, raw power of the Teen Spirit band.

    Green Day had emerged from the Gilman Street scene in San Francisco- the ultra idealistic punk rock venue HISTORY. They were virtually the house band in the venue and part of the eave of bands who were shackling melody to the fierce power of hardcore.
Hardcore had rewritten the American underground and had already spawned its own legends and its own pts hardcore crews. Ignored by the mainstream and the mainstream rock critics hardcore has Ben the backbone of American rock for decades. Green Day were part of the next shift, the Californian twist was the suffer sweet melodies added to the hardcore rush.

    They grafted. Adult stays for themselves got signed to ajar and suddenly woos were height of with their breakthrough hit basket case. The twitching urgency of the song and the their live performance was perfect teenage neuroses, and the band somehow managed to retain that youthful excitement with a rapidly developing musical template that is documented in to its show.

Sure they still play their harder punkier s tunes like...songs played such feral energy that the dumb claims that they are not punk are swiftly thrown out the window. This had become berry much part of the debate about green day...are they or are they not punk... It's an odd debate and one that hounds anything remotely related to punk rock. A couple of years ago Mr. butter ad himself Johnny Lydon was sneering at green day for not being punk and whilst green day are quite removed from the sex pistols both bands were straddling the great pop divide. Defining what is or heat isn't punk is a treacherous game played by fools and people so sure of how to define the indefinable. Punk is so many different things to different people that to call it as one specific sound style or genre is quite foolish. The argument kinda runs that Green Days success and capability of writing super catchy songs rules them out of the punk lineage but surly it would be the ultimate in selling out if Billie Joe Armstrong suddenly pretended that he could not wrote a catchy song that transcended boundaries and deliberately kept his band underground to attempt to appeal to purists who have filled the movement with their own petty rules.

   The fact is green day write thrillingly catchy pop songs and eviler them with a ferocity that many punk bands seem incapable of summing up. They are also the most influential guitar band of the last two decades with a whole bizarre cross section of young groups picking up guitars in suburban garages far more than pet bands like the strokes. They hardly fit into the accepted story of How Things Are and hideous indie snobs run from them scared of their capability to talk to awhile raft of people.
Old Trafford is a true triumph s band that has it all. The cope in their song writing is breath taking, the switching of odds and styles astonishing and the way they manage it al within the parameters of the punk rock code is perfect. The way that somehow they filter a whole gamut of pop culture and pop music through the sieve of punk rock and make music that relates to the fractured 21st century is stunning.

And that they also do this with a great sense of humor and a wiliness to engage with their audience terrifies the snobs but is not only supremely effective but decidedly naturals, the set is full of pranks and moments of supreme silliness that are hilarious and engaging, Billie Joe is like a perpetual hyperactive five year old with mad staring kohl eyes and supreme warmth that decides stuff like rock n roll cool and its associated studied posing. The fact his band rock so hard that it doesn't really matter how goofy they become and they also understand the value of acknowledging your audiences existence and they also understand that fucking with very fabric of east they have crest dis not only great fun but fills their set with great stories.

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