“East Coast Motherf**kers! F**k California I’m stayin’ here!” – Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong in New Jersey, 8/14/2010.
My feet hurt. My mouth was desperately in need of some water. My body was ready for sleep.
These were three complaints I had coming out of a Green Day concert that I got to witness at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ on Saturday, August 14th, 2010. But other than those three, you would be hard pressed to find any more for me, at least relating back to the concert that I had just seen. When Billie Joe, Mike Dirnt, Tre Cool and co. took the stage, I knew I was in for a good time. What I didn’t know was that I would be watching the best concert I’ve ever been to. It definitely had the potential going in I thought, but I didn’t know it would happen.
The concert began with band AFI taking the stage, dishing out an entertaining but brief 40 minutes of playtime. They played “Miss
Murder,” so I was satisfied. The band was much more entertaining than last year’s openers for Green Day that I saw, the Kaiser Chiefs.
I will note that this has been my second time seeing Green Day. I saw them last year at Madison Square Garden, an amazing venue for an amazing band, who continue to thrill and wow audiences with their live performances. You can ask anyone who has seen Green Day; they give a show that is out of this world.
Following AFI, the traditional Green Day bunny hit the stage, drinking beers, goofing off, and having fun. At 8:07 p.m., the lights dimmed, the crowd erupted, and “Song of the Century” played, leading into “21st Century Breakdown.” The band then continued with tracks from their current album, “Know Your Enemy” and one of my personal favorites, “East Jesus Nowhere.”
At this point in time Billie Joe asks for a child from the audience to be “saved.” He pulled up one that made absolute sense; the child’s shirt read “Save Me.”
The band then blasted out “Holiday, ¡Viva la Gloria!, Give me Novocaine, Letterbomb (so glad they played this, another one of my personal favorites), Are we the Waiting, St. Jimmy, and Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”
Then Mr. Armstrong began the “old school” Green Day part of the set list. You could tell because not only did he announce it, but Billie Joe pulled out “Blue,” his signature guitar. Starting with “Burnout (the first track off “Dookie”) made my jaw drop; it was unexpected to say the least. They then broke out with “Nice Guys Finish Last” and “Who Wrote Holden Caulfield (at this point AFI lead singer Davey Havok came out to sing)?” which are two Green Day songs that I have been known to quote in regular conversation and also love.
Hearing Billie Joe yell New Jersey (my home state if you were unaware) whenever he could, singing “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi, and “I’m On Fire” by Bruce Springsteen all added to the overall fun, and also the band did a medley of songs featuring “Iron Man, Highway to Hell, You’ve Really Got Me, Ain’t Talking About Love, Sweet Child of Mine,” sending the crowd into an uproar. In addition during the course of the evening the frontman invited a mass amount of people up on the stage with him, which was just awesome.
The boys then continued to blow the roof off PNC with “2000 Light Years Away, Paper Lanterns, When I Come Around, and Brain Stew/Jaded (Tre Cool and Billie Joe squirted the audience with water gun while the two songs were transitioning).” When the band played “Longview” following that, they normally call people up to sing a verse of the song. What happened during “Longview” on this night, however, was something extraordinary. For the third verse of the song, while a young man belted it out, a woman came on stage, SIGNING the verse and ending chorus. Billie Joe proudly handed her his guitar saying she wanted her to have it, after telling the young man that he was amazing, but “she was a lot better.”
Then the band proceeded on with “Basket Case, She,” the show stopping “King for a Day/Shout cover,” then a brief part from “Extraordinary Girl,” leading into “21 Guns,” and ending with their “hold that note” political anthem (Billie Joe belts out a musical note of a hard-to-estimate time, and asks the audience to do the same during this song) “Minority.”
The set list that Green Day just provided for me would’ve been enough; at that point I already realized I just witnessed something amazing. But no, as Billie Joe said, he would play all night long, and while he didn’t really follow his own words, the band did continue for a two piece encore (to start), blasting “American Idiot” and the 9 minute epic “Jesus of Suburbia” out into the center. Then it was solo Billie Joe, armed only with an acoustic guitar, singing “When It’s Time,” a number from the American Idiot musical. He followed that up with “When September Ends,” getting joined again by his band mates as the crowd erupted for their re entry. When the song ended, the all of the band except for one promptly left, leaving Mr. Billie Joe Armstrong to end it all with the classic conclusion piece, “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).”
At this point I checked my cell phone for the time and just couldn’t believe it; it was 11:04, which means Green Day was THREE MINUTES shy of playing a THREE HOUR CONCERT. Last year I thought I got my money’s worth when they played for two and a half hours, but when Billie Joe said during the night’s events that the band was going to give the audience the best show they’ve ever been to, he meant it in sincerity. For the money I paid for this concert, I honestly would state that I got a bargain.
Green Day is my favorite band, if you didn’t know this already. Their music is something I constantly listen to and enjoy, and many other people feel the same way I’m assuming, due to the fact that the band played to a sold out crowd on a beautiful August night. But what I witnessed with this concert was nothing short of amazing; they came, they saw, they conquered.
An exhausted Billie Joe left the stage last night, well deserving of any congratulations or bottles of water handed to him as he departed the stage. But while cheesy in essence, he stated at many concerts for people to put away all forms of technology, including cameras. While I shot many a photo last night and took videos to boot, at a point I realized he was right. And I quote something he said as he stated that people put all that stuff away: “This is our memory. This is our night!”
On August 14th, 2010, I got to create a new memory that will go down in my history as the best concert I’ve ever been to, unless someone can top this (it will take a lot). Featuring some of my personal favorites from the Green Day library, being able to witness a lady signing a part of “Longview” and a near three hour run time, it was something epic. In the last few seconds of the show, Billie Joe sang “I hope you had the time of your life.”
Stop hoping, man. I just did.
all photos credit: logan j. fowler