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Concert Reviews:
Green Day presents a "untiy" concert at Joe Louis Arena

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Tuesday, March 28, 2017

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DETROIT -- There was an odd symmetry between Green Day’s concert on Monday night, March 28, at Joe Louis Arena and its previous visit five months earlier at the Fillmore Detroit.

Both shows were on Monday nights, providing an exuberant punk rock antidote to any post weekend malaise. And both were impacted by health issues; The October show was actually a make-good for date that was postponed due to an illness that affected the band and crew, while on Monday Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong told the 13,000 at Joe Louis that he was suffering with “a bit of disease in my chest.”

But Armstrong soldiered through and, along with his bandmates, delivered exactly what we’ve come to expect from Green Day -- a raucous rock ‘n’ roll carnival that started on 10 (maybe even 11, for you Spinal Tap fans) and rarely let up as the group tore through 27 pyrotechnic-laced songs in two-hours and 20 minutes. As is Green Day’s, wont it was enormously entertaining, a buoyant celebration, mosh pits and crowd surfing included, despite the anger voiced in some of the group’s songs -- and during Armstrong’s onstage rants.

While the previous show was two weeks before the presidential election and merited only cursory mention then, Armstrong had plenty to say on Monday. Urging fans to “rise up!” during the politically charged “Holiday,” Armstrong shouted for “No racism! No Sexism! No homophobia! And no (expletive) walls!” But he later added that, “We’re here tonight for something called unity. I”m so sick to death of seeing all the lies...Tonight we’re together to find some truth...We will not be divided by a bunch of guys in suits trying to come between us as American citizens.”

All of that certainly played well to the Joe Louis crowd -- as did a direct epithet to President Donald Trump at the end of “American Idiot” during the encore, and Armstrong`s lament about his home town Oakland Raiders moving to Las Vegas. But the music, spanning old school favorites such as “2000 Light Years Away” and hits from 1994’s breakthrough album “Dookie” to a half-dozen tracks from last year’s “Revolution Radio,” was the real star, along with Armstrong and company’s usual shenanigans that, while predictable at this point, were still plenty of fun.”

Young fans, including a 12-eyar-old boy from Clarkston, were brought on stage to sing during “Know Your Enemy” and “Longview,” getting a hug from Armstrong as well as a command to finish with stage dives into the crowd. Another youth named Hudson played guitar during a cover of Operation Ivy’s “Knowledge” -- and then got to keep the instrument.

Armstrong sprayed the crowd with water and wielded a T-shirt gun during “2000 Light Years,” while the bouncy “Hitchin’ A Ride” was turned into an extended vamp. “King For A Day” was vaudevillian schtick complete with funny hats and sideman Jason Freese playing the saxophone licks from Wham!’s “Careless Whisper” and was followed by a cheerful medley of the Isley Brothers’ “Shout!,” Monty Python’s “Always Look On the Bright Side Of Life,” the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”

Armstrong, meanwhile, milked the crowd’s energy for plenty of singalongs and call-and-response exercises; If he got a dollar for every time he bellowed “Detroit!” and “Michigan!,” he could pay off the city’s remaining debts. But when Green Day meant business it became a formidable and accomplished rock outfit, too, especially on the suite’s “Forever Now” and “Jesus Of Suburbia,” while bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool showed yet again that punk’s austere aesthetic can still make room for instrumental sophistication and invention.

Armstrong identified Green Day’s show as “the next to last rock show in this venue,” presumably referencing Bon Jovi’s concert on Wednesday, March 29. There may well be more before Joe Louis closes its doors for good, but Green Day’s will certainly rank among the more memorable.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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