Aug. 10, 2005

Green Day Kicks off American Tour Chicago Style

By Randy J. Klodz

The past year has been a smash success for Green Day. It’s not often a punk or alternative rock band earns a Grammy, but the 2004 album “American Idiot” earned the band a Grammy win for “Best Rock Album,” and while the album has been out for almost a year now, Green Day kicked off one of its largest tours ever at Allstate Arena on Aug. 10 with a bang.

Green Day—which includes Billie Joe Armstrong (vocals, guitar), Mike Dirnt (bass) and Tre Cool (drums)—used the spacious confines of Allstate Arena to throw in some tricks such as firework blasts, fire towers, the wave, a binge drinking pink bunny, and Armstrong’s patented crowd interaction during the band’s nearly 2-hour set.

With the crowd interaction comes Armstrong once again taking the stage to begin Green Day’s set atop his stage monitors with his arms raised outward in the fashion of a cross as the sold-out Allstate Arena crowd roared.

As successful showmen do during large venue concerts, Armstrong had his way with the crowd, and it loved every minute of it. Upon completion of the set’s opener, the hit “American Idiot,” Armstrong started the wave throughout Allstate Arena reminiscent of one that could be found at U.S. Cellular Arena or Wrigley Field.

A sincere Armstrong wasted no time as he greeted the Chicago-area crowd in a way that showed the band’s absolute appreciation for its strong support. “This is the first show on our American tour, and what better place to start it than Chicago,” he said. “We’ve been a band for over 16 years now, and we come to Chicago year after year after year, and it just gets better and better. Thank you all very much.” He later commented: “I hope the Bears win the Super Bowl, the Cubs and White Sox win the Word Series, and the Bulls…get Michael Jordan back.”

And as ring leader, Armstrong kept the music coming. During “Hitchin’ A Ride,” Armstrong often paused and got the crowd to repeat chants of “Hey Ohhhhhhhhhh” and “Hey Wowwwwww,” occasionally holding a vocal note to last 30 seconds each. The crowd complied and enjoyed a set list that included “Jesus of Suburbia,” “Longview” “She,” and the new single “Wake Me Up When September Ends” among others.

Green Day also invited several fans onto the catwalk stage. Before blasting out hit song “Brainstew,” Armstrong invited a teenage boy up to the stage and instructed the boy on how to shoot water into the crowd. The boy complied, and sweaty fans in front got cooled off. Another surprise ensued when two young male fans were brought on stage to play guitar and drums during Green Day’s cover of the Operation Ivy song “Knowledge.” A young female also played with the band, where she assumed bass guitar duties. Armstrong rewarded her performance with his guitar as a gift.

Other surprises included a rousing version of Chubby Checker’s “Twist & Shout” and a heart-felt version of Queen’s “We Are The Champions.” Armstrong ended the set with a solo version of one of Green Day’s most mellow numbers “Time of Your Life,” and a confetti shot covered a majority of the arena.

A spectacular performance such as this shows that although Green Day has earned a Grammy, plays to sold-out crowds worldwide, and has been together for nearly two decades, the band still finds ways to keep its dedicated fans guessing.

The current tour is scheduled to close on Oct. 9 when Green Day invades Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. For more information on Green Day log on to www.greenday.com

Green Day Photo: Eva Mueller