Gig Review: Green Day Come Back To Earth

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Photos supplied by Green Day

This required a bit of research, but if’s records are correct, Green Day played 10 songs at the famous Berkeley venue 924 Gilman Street on September 4, 1993. A little more than 30 years and 13 albums since that night, Green Day are still playing, and 40% of those songs remained in the setlist as the band took the stage at what is likely one of the smallest venues they’ve played since – New York City’s Irving Plaza, (which organizers noted held 900 lucky souls for their performance). 

However, unlike the DIY punk roots of the band’s Gilman Street days, this rare club appearance comes corporate sponsored, as part of SiriusXM’s Small Stages series, and presented in partnership with Carnival Cruises. But any cognitive dissonance in the room immediately evaporated as the band walked onstage and they… looked like humans. Real life humans, not figures on a stage in the distance of a baseball stadium like they will be later this year, but the same guys who dominated the stage at 924 Gilman Street thirty years ago (plus a few additional touring members).

As the opening notes of “American Idiot” rang through the packed room, the floor started to churn with fans who have Green Day in their blood and have spent years waiting for a moment like this. The only people allowed to attend this show seemed to have been the dedicated Green Day fans who had won tickets through XM radio, and a limited group of press and other entertainment industry folk determined enough to squeeze a way into that 900. Thankfully someone over there must read The Alt, because it was a once in a lifetime chance to view the band in this size venue at this stage in their career that I couldn’t pass up.

After kicking off the evening on an iconic note, the band launched into a showcase of singles from their 14th album Saviors, which included their new song that Fenn just called the band’s best song in years in their track review for the site. Put in sequence with the band’s other material, the new tracks fit in pretty seamlessly with the musical lineage that precede them. While not as pointedly politically motivated as some of the material that made them global superstars, the new tracks performed feature not-so-subtle callouts of America’s failure of the middle class (“The American Dream Is Killing Me”) as well as a middle finger to the right’s weaponization of LGBTQ+ rights (“Bobby Sox”).

After this suite of new material, Armstrong took a brief moment to reflect. “This year marks a major anniversary,” he noted to cheers from the audience, alluding to the 30th and 20th anniversaries of landmark albums Dookie and American Idiot, respectively. Then he smiled, a twinkle in his eye. “It’s 29 years since Insomniac,” he quipped before bursting into Dookie’s opening track “Burnout,” and the room truly exploded as crowd surfers started gliding overhead and Green Day’s security guard climbed onto the side of the stage to keep close watch, his arms crossed. 


The rest of the evening saw the band pulling out iconic smash hits from both Dookie and American Idiot, as well as deeper cuts from their Gilman St days (“2000 Light Years Away,” “One Of My Lies,” “Christie Road”) and tracks that fans haven’t heard live in years (Insomniac’s “Stuart and the Ave”). Though perhaps the highlight of the nearly two-hour show came with its conclusion, a performance of the epic closing suite of American Idiot with “Homecoming” and “Whatsername” that had the band sounding as tight and youthful as they did when they performed at the same venue the night before American Idiot was released.

Green Day’s Saviors tour kicks off on May 30th in Spain before hitting North America in late July. The band will be playing Dookie and American Idiot in full each night, making for a can’t-miss show. This week’s Irving Plaza performance will air on Saturday January 20th at 9 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s Green Day Radio (channel 107) and be available to stream on the SiriusXM app.

American Idiot, Look Ma, No Brains!, The American Dream Is Killing Me, Dilemma, One Eyed Bastard, Bobby Sox, 1981, Burnout, Longview, Welcome to Paradise, She, Holiday, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Letterbomb, Minority, 2000 Light Years Away, One of My Lies, Stuart and the Ave., Christie Rd., Brain Stew, St. Jimmy, Warning, Revolution Radio, Basket Case, Homecoming, Whatsername.

Written by Zac Gelfand

Photos supplied by Green Day

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