On Tuesday night in Providence, Rhode Island, Green Day proved the saying “good things come to those who wait” to be true. The show taking place was originally scheduled for January 24th. But it was postponed after frontman Billie Joe Armstrong entered rehab for alcohol addiction during a dark, and well publicized time in the rocker’s life. Originally the postponement let down a lot of fans who were eager to see their heroes. As well as the band, who are well known for rarely canceling individuals shows, let alone entire tours.
But Tuesday night, a rested, refreshed, and most importantly, clean Armstrong led his band into the Dunkin Donuts Center for the show fans had been waiting for months to see. Armstrong looked happy as ever onstage and hardly ever stopped smiling from start to finish. The time off was exactly what the band needed, and they proved it right from the start. Prior to the show even starting, the crowd was reved up by the house mix from the soundboard. First came a giant sing-a-long to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and then the famed Ramones track “Blitzkrieg Bop” lead by the band’s bunny mascot stumbling around the stage.
The live portion of the show kicked off with the high energy “99 Revolutions” from Green Day’s most recent release - and the third in their new album trilogy – “Tre”. The early part of the set was dedicated to the more recent era of the band as songs such as “Know Your Enemy”, “Holiday” and “Letterbomb” were mixed in with a few cuts from the “Uno…Dos…Tre!” trilogy. Green Day then went into the back catalog and pulled out some tracks from their early days. Old school Green Day fans were delighted to hear tracks such as “Burnout”, “Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?” and “Going to Pasalacqua”. Of course the favorites drew the best reactions from those in attendance “Brain Stew” – which was preceded by a brief snippet of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” got the crowd banging their heads. “Longview”, the song designed around one of the signature bass riffs of the 1990’s, took an interesting turn when Billie Joe invited a member of the audience up onstage to sing the 3rd and final verse of the song. A teenage boy seated next to the stage got the thrill of his life as he shared the stage with Green Day for the end of the song and then exited the stage by executing a great stage dive.
As Green Day launched into “Basket Case” the Dunkin Donuts Center became a collective choir, with even the most casual of Green Day fans knowing every word. Perhaps the most fun of the night came when they launched into “King For Day” after putting on the most ridiculous hats they could find, they finished up the song with a medley of covers such as “Shout” “Hey Jude” “Satisfaction (I Can’t Get No)” and “Time of the Season”. Green Day closed their main set with “Minority” off their 2000 release “Warning”.
The encore began with the title track from Green Day’s 2004 rock opera “American Idiot” and from there launched into the lengthy “Jesus of Suburbia” – almost a rock opera within a rock opera - off the same album. The night was brought to a close with the ballad “Brutal Love” that brought the crowd together one last time.
The night as a whole felt like one giant party. Make no mistake, this isn’t the Green Day that made headlines for trampling flower beds in Boston, or spray painting store windows in New York City. These punk rockers have grown up, as most punk bands eventually do. Green Day are more of a theatric rock band now, in the vein of a band like The Who, writing rock operas and concept albums. But they still know how to have fun, they still take time out of their set to return to their punk roots or even tease their fans by spraying them with a hose, or throwing t-shirts into the crowd. They’re still having as much fun up on stage as they were when they started out, in fact with Billie Joe Armstrong now clean and sober, they may perhaps be even happier. In the midst of their set Billie Joe Armstrong proclaimed “"I'm having a fucking moment right now, because I'm fucking alive right now!" and after witnessing their performance in Providence on Tuesday night, it’s hard to imagine Green Day fans feeling any different.