Review: Green Day at First Direct Arena, Leeds.

Green Day at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff
Green Day at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff
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THEY ARE undoubtedly a band that divides opinion over whether their often throw-away punk rock embodies the true spirit of the genre.

But for anyone who can lay claim to a career in the music business spanning the last 30 years, you realise Green Day must be doing something right.

And during a two-and-a-half hour set in Leeds, it was perfectly apparent that the Californian trio appear to have rediscovered a youthful exuberance that belies the advent of middle age.

That may well be down to the recent events in their home nation, as the election of Donald Trump has certainly given singer Billy Joe Armstrong a target to vent his anger.

Like many of the most interesting musical acts, Green Day have always had a political undercurrent, which came to the fore in 2004’s American Idiot.

While more than a decade has passed, that album has even more resonance now than ever with Trump’s ascendancy, which gave Armstrong the opportunity to launch an impassioned polemic against the world’s politicians from the stage.

Green Day at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Green Day at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

But to suggest that this was a show that was centred solely on the world’s trials and tribulations would not be doing justice to Green Day.

As Armstrong himself told the crowd at the start of the set “I want joy, love and passion and I want to hear English voices all night long!” – before he embarked on a masterclass of engaging with a 13,000-strong audience.

Members of the crowd were brought on stage to join the band for the opening track, Know Your Enemy, as well as Longview, and there was a constant call to arms for the crowd to take over the vocal duties.

The response to tracks from the band’s latest album, Revolution Radio, including the title track and Still Breathing showed that this was not simply a night for nostalgia.

Green Day at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Green Day at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

But the biggest responses from the audience were unsurprisingly saved for the songs from yesteryear such as Basket Case, Minority and American Idiot itself.

The crowd were perhaps even more appreciative of the band’s infectious energy throughout the set given the troubles that they had faced in recent years, with Armstrong battling addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs and bassist Mike Dirnt’s wife fighting cancer.

And now with the addition of three more members on guitars, keyboards and vocal duties, the band’s sound was swelled to almost ear-splitting levels, helped by the pyrotechnics behind them on the stage.

The biggest smiles were, however, raised during a cover of the ska punk band Operation Ivy’s Knowledge, when another fan was brought on stage to this time play guitar.

Green Day playing live at Leeds First Direct Arena.

Green Day playing live at Leeds First Direct Arena.

After congratulation the young fan on his musicianship, Armstrong informed him that he could keep the guitar.

The unbridled delight of the fan summed up the essence of what Green Day are about – a band that can make the world seem a better place.

Which surely is what a career spanning the past three decades should be all about.

Four out of five stars

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