Errols Weekly Music Update.

July 29, 2009

Concert Review: Green Day at Madison Square Garden on July 28, 2009

Concert Review: Green Day at Madison Square Garden on Tues. July 28, 2009

Green Day Rocks the Garden”

Green Day has come a long way from its days of playing in small local clubs and/or bars but the only thing that really has changed (because they always have and always will- Rock) are the venues to accommodate the hordes of fans that they have attracted over the years, especially the last five or so, – and to be completely honest I am one of those fans- after their release of their epic “American Idiot.” Yes, that is true- my first album ever purchased by this band was “American Idiot.” (I have their “International Greatest Hits” collection which was released before “Idiot” but don’t consider that a “real” album). The reason I throw that out there is because for me the show was SOLID. (If I were giving out letter grades, this would be a “B+”). Now I know many of the fans that have been with them since the beginning are screaming at their computers right now saying that I’m crazy and that the show was great or in other words, “An A+.” And I would not disagree, but for me, as in the Foo Fighters show last February at the Garden- there were “great” moments last night that rivaled the many enormous highlights that I have experienced at The Garden since I started going, dating back to the 1980’s. Sustaining those vast displays is my only hesitation of labeling this as one of the all-time great shows. But this in no way is a criticism of the show, like I said- this was a solid rock and roll display which included lots of audience participation.

Let me set up the night- As some of you may have known, this was the first show that I was attending with both of my son’s. (I took my oldest a few months ago to Bryan Adams and will be taking my youngest to AC/DC this Friday at Giants Stadium). Now as you can imagine, I have been waiting for this day a long, long time and was so excited that their first show together would be at “The World’s Greatest Stage”- the incomparable Madison Square Garden.I couldn’t wait for them to feel that “NYC” vibe in the air and believe me after attending many shows in NJ and CT, there is nothing like the New York feel to a show. (I now live closer to attend shows in Hartford CT but will always go to New York to see the bands I really want to see). Anyways, they were now part of my routine when I attend shows in NY, I drive to the upper west side to look for a spot on the street, instead of paying an arm & leg to park (one draw-back to NY). As we exited the West Side highway at 79st, I figured we’d have to circle the area for at least a half-hour but to our pleasant surprise as we turned left up 76st, someone was pulling out and just like that we all knew the night was going to be all right. My tradition, which they will now be part of, is to head over to Freddy & Pepper’s pizzeria on Amsterdam Avenues between 74th and 75th streets. (They have the best pizza). After eating, we took the subway down to Penn Station and walked a half block to MSG. They were amazed at the amount of people in NYC. As we entered, I mentioned to them that we were walking into the “Land of Oz” and then we checked out all the merchandise. The T-Shirts were OK but for $35, we decided to snatch up a program for $20 and headed to our seats in section 424. Yes, we were way up top but it didn’t matter, we were in the building and set to see arguably the biggest band in the world today. As we sat in our seats, every once in a while, we would hear these screams and we thought it was someone from the band making an early entrance to the stage but that was not the case. Sensing the shift in things to come for live shows, for the first time ever I witnessed how a sponsor of a concert can literally take over a venue. Green Day must have signed an agreement with Verizon because every where you went all you saw was their “black and red” logo and endless promotions (in the lobby) of their product. Anyway, on the overhead screen were messages that were being “texted” by Verizon users with comments like “Scream if you like Green Day” “Yankees all the way” etc. Now I know I’m old but come on, first I had to deal with cell-phones taking over for lighters, now this? Texting at a show?; Oh well. The opening band, the Kaiser Chiefs hit the stage around 8:00 p.m. and played for about 35 minutes. They were pretty good,-their music is perfectly suited for Green Day as their music was hard hitting and straight-forward-although I had a hard time understanding their singer- the only clear thing I heard throughout the show was him saying “1, 2, 3, 4” and then the crowd would scream. As the lights went on and the roadies started to set up the massive stage for Green Day, I explained to my boys that the first band does not get the same treatment as the featured artist. I let them know that the stage is always smaller and the sound is a lot lower. (The key here is the sound). As the preparations were coming to an end, we discussed what song we thought they would open up with. As I looked around the place, it appeared that there were a lot of empty seats and that vibe that I was talking about didn’t seem to be infiltrating the Garden as of yet. Internally, I was getting nervous as I had been talking endlessly about how great it was to see a show at the Garden and at 8:55 p.m. there wasn’t that much excitement being generated. (It had to be the “texting.”) But then as a “drunken” Pink Bunny appeared on the stage, you could kind of feel the adrenaline get going, as Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” was pumping through the speakers. Then as the Ramones “Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio” blared one could sense it would be at any minute and sure enough you heard the opening to “Song of the Century.” As that song ended, it was like a volcano erupted as “21st Century Breakdown” began and as the lights hit the Garden, those empty seats were now filled with standing bodies swaying their arms back and forth to the first part of the song. I knew what was coming with the change in the pace of the song but my youngest wasn’t prepared, as the speed of the song picked up, Billie Joe Armstrong was already at a fever pitch and there were explosions to accent the change of the song. Well my youngest covered his ears (I always jump as well) and my worst fears were coming true, it was too loud for him. (Yes I offered- I know I should have made him- to get ear plugs but he declined). I told him that the pyrotechnics would not be shot all the time and that it was OK but I guess when he took his hands off his ears, he realized how much louder it was, so he was OK the rest of the show by covering his ears. For me, as long as he was OK-like he said- I turned my focus back to the show and couldn’t believe how quickly the whole vibe of the place turned. The Garden was at a fever pitch already after the first song (Ok second but only technically as the first song is 58 seconds long) and my worries about my boys not feeling the NY atmosphere totally disappeared and they were now on the roller coaster ride called Green Day. (We didn’t realize it at the time but they were going to pull a “Springsteen” and play for over three hours-OK so Bruce does four but you get the drift-how many other bands play over three hours as the headliner?). Now the stage is one big oval with an extension for Billie to run out approximately 15 rows deep. There are wall speakers on each side of the drum set, which had four steps to get to the pretty simple drum arrangement-but Tre Cool created a sound as explosive as he. There was a huge background- which showed images throughout the show and of course fireworks throughout the evening. The lighting was different from other shows that I have attended as there seemed to be a big spotlight on the entire audience as opposed to just sections of the crowd. As the song ended, Billie scolded the audience and said there would be no cell phone pictures and that the audience was there to sing and dance and have a good time.

As the crowd was now into it, Tre began pounding the skins as the ever popular-“Know Your Enemy” blasted its way into your ears. Billie seemed to disappear and was now headed into the crowd in to the lower tier section near sections 120-122. I couldn’t believe it, I think this was also the first time I’d ever seen a singer go into the crowd so eagerly. Billie’s energy polarized the entire audience and they listened to his every command, they had no choice- he was going to make sure everyone was going to have a good time. As the song played the background was full of fire and flames, although a little later we all had the sense that Billie sees his America changing for the better. As “Know Your Enemy” was reaching its climax, a young male was trying to reach out to touch Billie and as he was closer, Billie pulled the lad on the stage. The guy looks like he stuck his hand in an electric socket as he is so stoked that he’s up on stage with Green Day as he is doing a “mosh pit” dance… he has a story to tell his grandkids- as I know like everyone else- I was wishing that it was me up there. The fever pitch continued with the blistering “Murder City” and at that point it was like being swept up into a tornado, there was no way to escape the enthusiasm. People everywhere were air-guitaring and trying to keep pace with Tre as they banged their arms over their head. Then it was on to one of my favorites on the new album-“East Jesus Nowhere”- the guitar riff on this song is so awesome and it sounded like more than a few guitars at the same time- oh wait maybe it was as even though Green Day is known as a trio-there were at least three other musicians up there helping them rock out the Garden. Another lucky person, this one a 10-year old boy named Trevor was the next contestant up on the stage for the game called Green Day interaction with the fans. We all saw Billie whisper (well maybe not whisper) in the boy’s ear and didn’t know what was going to happen but as the song neared its end, there was a “shot” and Trevor fell straight to the stage floor. The audience cheered wildly for Trevor as Billie told him to get off his stage now that he was finished with him. (By the way I am leaving out all the “F” bombs that were exploding the whole night from Billie’s mouth but take my word, my boys have their fill for that word for the rest of 2009 and 2010).

One of the first highlights of the show was “Holiday” from “American Idiot.” In a word- “Wow” freaking phenomenal, the entire Garden was singing word for word. As I looked at my boys, I knew at that point there could be nothing that could top this. It was so cool to hear the whole crowd say “Amen” (if you know the spot in the song for it). Billie took control of the lights and made different sections of the Garden his target utilizing the laser ability to make it seem like he was going to shoot. The next highlight for me came with “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” from the same “Idiot”- again everyone sang word for word. This was after a few more songs from “21st Century” and “We are the Waiting” and “St. Jimmy” from “American Idiot.” So after the first ten songs, I’m thinking that this is going to be right up there as one of the best shows I have ever seen. Maybe it was because I was unfamiliar with their earlier stuff but as the show approached the second hour, that “edge” started to flatten out as the songs appeared to become longer. Now in between some of the songs that I was unfamiliar with, there were staples such as “Welcome to Paradise”- which was ferocious, so at points I was going back up hill on the roller coaster called Green Day. They went into “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor-just messing around as Billie screamed “Yo Adrian” into the mike. “When I Come Around” was a home run as the crowd did everything it could to sing louder than Billie.

There was a stretch of five songs in a row that had the pendulum swinging back to “this is the greatest show ever” with such classics as “Brain Stew”, “Basket Case” and “She.” “She” was a must for almost every boot camp class we took at MBIA from 2002-2005. And the words were true in the case of my little guy-“ scream at me till my ears bleed.” “Basket Case” was an obvious crowd pleaser and also one of the highlights. Then as the show headed for the stretch run, the pendulum swung back the other way, especially with the cover of the Isley Brother’s classic “Shout”- don’t get me wrong they did it great but it went on way too long and it lost its luster for me. The show ended with their next huge song “21 Guns”-this may go on to be their biggest hit yet and the next to last song on “21st Century”-“American Eulogy.”

The encores began with the best two songs of the night- “American Idiot” and “Jesus of Surburbia.” I will remember this live version of “American Idiot” for a long time as the seemingly endless line of arms swaying back and forth in the air was a sight to behold. Talk about a “head-banging” song- does it get any better than this song? Tre was unbelievable on drums. As it was closer to midnight, Billie told the audience that he was going to play “Jesus of Surburbia” and my oldest son noted that he was blown away by the fact that everyone in the audience was singing this nine minute song word for word. This for me was the very best song of the night and to me, this is the best song they have ever recorded. “City of the Damned” is friggin’ phenomenal. To keep the crowd into it, Billie brought yet another person from the audience (earlier he had brought up three people to play drums, guitar and bass for the three main members of Green Day on the song “Knowledge”). This time it was a young woman, who did a masterful job singing the “Dearly Beloved” part of the nine minute masterpiece. If the show had ended there, I would have been in my glory. The roller coaster seemed to go down again as the performed the classic “Minority” but there were way too many requests for the audience to say “Aye-Oh” and I was done at that point. The night ended on a soft note with “Good Riddance.”  (I remember that song appearing on “E.R.” way back when).

Green Day has proved that they are a force to be reckoned with as their last two albums could be considered “Masterpieces” by many out there and now they are putting out all their heart and energy to perform three-plus hour shows for the faithful. Sounds to me like they now have to be mentioned in the same breath as “U2” “Springsteen” and others as the biggest acts in rock and roll. To me, these guys will be voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on their first year of eligibility. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

Set List:

1.       Song of the Century

2.       21st Century Breakdown

3.       Know Your Enemy

4.       Murder City

5.       East Jesus Nowhere

6.       Holiday

7.       Static Age

8.       Before the Lobotomy

9.       Are We the Waiting

10.     St. Jimmy

11.     Boulevard of Broken Dreams

12.     A Quick One (While He’s Away)- cover of The Who

13.     Hitchin a Ride

14.     Welcome to Paradise

15.     Stop, Drop & Roll

16.     F.O.D.

17.     When I Come Around

18.      Going to Pasalacqua

19.     Stuart and the Avenue

20.     Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?

21.     Brain Stew

22.     Jaded

23.     Knowledge (Operation Ivy cover)

24.     Basket Case

25.     She

26.     King for A Day

27.     Shout (Earth Angel/Christie Road/I’ll Be There)

28.     21 Guns


29.     American Idiot

30.     Jesus of Surburbia

31.     Minority

32.     Macy’s Day Parade

33.     Say I Love You

34.     Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)



  1. um i was there and the played 2000 lightyears away so technically they played 35 songs but the concert was amazin and we were up towards the front

    Comment by ash — July 29, 2009 @ 10:35 pm

    • I believe the review above is from night #2 at MSG.

      Comment by Paul — July 30, 2009 @ 1:29 pm

  2. Hey Errol, nice blog!

    Comment by Sai Uppuluri — July 30, 2009 @ 5:01 pm

  3. The concert was so much fun! It was long and loud and such a great experience. I brought both my kids, two of their friends, and my husband. We think, but are not sure yet, that one of my daughter’s friends was the kid brought up to play bass. We were across from the stage, so my daughter wasn’t able to get Billie Joe’s attention – she’s a great drummer and would have loved to have been up there too! A small note, by my watch, they started at 9:15 and ended at 12:05, so not quite 3 hours. Thanks for posting the set list!

    Comment by Skiff — July 30, 2009 @ 9:19 pm

    • I was the kid brought up to play bass

      Comment by bassist123 — August 2, 2009 @ 12:33 am

      • Awesome job, I can’t believe you got to take the bass home.

        Comment by Rob — August 4, 2009 @ 4:39 pm

  4. I have a review, pics and videos I took up on my blog from the July 27th show the night before.

    Ash, they played 2000 Light Years away they played on the 27th I know, maybe not on the 28th?

    I’m in a Green Day tribute band and all I can say is this show was awesome. From the stage show, to the sound, to the pyro, and all the new material from 21st Century Breakdown. We are psyched to be playing all the new material too.

    Comment by Basket Case — August 19, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

  5. wonder if they would have loved or hated this Japanese version of Basket Case from Puncolle Punk

    Comment by len — August 18, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

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