PROVIDENCE — Going from well-publicized, profanity-laced public meltdown (and subsequent treatment for "substance abuse") to a rock 'n' roll rebirth hot enough to singe one's eyebrows, Green Day's front-man Billie Joe Armstrong is not only back but he's bigger, badder and hammier than ever.
On top of that, Armstrong seemed to be having the time of his life and so, too, did the 10,000-plus in attendance Tuesday night at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.
As part of the rescheduled "99 Revolutions Tour" (for the three companion albums, "¡Uno!," "¡Dos!" and "¡Tré!"), Green Day performed a career-spanning, two-and-a-half hour, 27-song set that included a three-song encore and, at least one song from each of the band's albums.
In fact, with only eight of the 27 numbers from the combined trilogy — which sounded better and more fleshed out live than on the records — that they are allegedly touring behind, six numbers from "American Idiot" and five from 1994's breakthrough "Dookie," this show was a dream come true for diehard and recent Green Day devotees alike. The Berkeley-based combo (which has gone from being an unassuming punk trio to powerhouse sextet in concert) barreled out of the starting gate with a blistering, slash-and-burn assault of "99 Revolutions" from "¡Tré!"
Clean and sober and ready to conquer the world again, Armstrong — who got rid of the unflattering raccoon eye makeup that plagued him on the last several tours but still sports jet-black hair — got the crowd's arms in the air early and often.
In addition to his eager-to-please enthusiasm, Armstrong had enough energy to power a third-world country. Quickly making his unfortunate meltdown a mere footnote on the band's Wikipedia page, Armstrong was in fine voice and on fire all night. So, too, were his band mates.
With longtime members Mike Dirnt on bass and Tré Cool on drums; newest official member Jason White on guitar; and touring musicians Jeff Matika on guitar/backing vocals and Jason Freese on keyboards and sax giving him ample backup, Armstrong rocked with a renewed sense of purpose, a clean-cut precision and a classic punk-rock abandon that was awe-inspiring and relentless.
On "Know Your Enemy" (from "21st Century Breakdown"), Armstrong did an impromptu duet with a pint-size fan picked from the crowd before the young whippersnapper took the prerequisite stage dive back to his seat.
Going from rebel-rouser to low-rent Romeo, Armstrong made a last-ditch effort for the girl that got away (or possibly one he never actually had a chance of getting) on the scruffy, romantic rocker "Stay the Night," and pleaded to a would-be lover to "waste away tonight" on "Oh Love" (both from "¡Uno!").
"I'm having a (expletive) moment right now, because I'm (expletive) alive right now," Armstrong declared during "Letterbomb." "Right now, you got to come alive." From there, the punk maestro directed the audience through a call-and-response chorus of "Heyyyy-ohh" that filled the arena.
It was "Viva La Revolution" time on "Holiday," which rocked the house. Whether it was a floodlight being shined on the audience or Armstrong leading the crowd in the chant "Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!" this Clash-like, politically charged rocker was one of the evening's undisputed highlights.
Armstrong spent the majority of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" on his hands and knees, soaking up the audience's admiration and love. When the song was over, Armstrong exclaimed, "They do it better in New England."
Green Day rewarded its diehards with a rarely played series of tunes that included the punk rave-up "Burnout" (from "Dookie"), the audience-requested "Who Wrote Holden Caulfield? (from "Kerplunk!"), the infectious gem "J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva)" (from the forgotten "Angus" soundtrack) and the irresistible "Going to Pasalacqua" (which Armstrong reportedly wrote when he was a mere 16 and was already showing his uncanny knack for carving indelible hooks).
"Carpe Diem" (from "¡Uno!"), which made its tour debut in Providence, sounded glorious and triumphant live.
The stomping head-banger "Brain Stew" started a snippet of AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" and ended with Armstrong spraying the audience with a fire hose, spooling out rolls of toilet-paper with a specialized gun and firing off a T-shirt cannon. Before the audience could fathom why, Green Day erupted into a ferocious version of the body surfing-friendly punk rocker "St. Jimmy" (from "American Idiot").
Four more from "Dookie" ("Basket Case," "Longview," "She" and "When I Come Around") proved that Green Day doesn't just make great music. They make great memories.
During "Longview," Armstrong picked another adolescent from the audience to sing the last verse. And not only did the young fan nail it, he momentarily took over the band to the delight of Armstrong watching from the sidelines.
For the ska-flavored, funny hats number "King for a Day," Armstrong was wearing a coonskin cap and, later, a silly sock puppet (courtesy of someone in the audience) before segueing into a medley of The Isley Brothers' "Shout," the Zombies' "Time of the Season," The Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and the Beatles' "Hey Jude."
A harmonica-puffing Armstrong led an extended and unorthodox jam, complete with three guitars and an accordion, on what turned out to be the moral majority crowd-pleaser, "Minority," which closed out the main set.
Anarchy was alive and well during the encore, which featured the two best songs from "American Idiot" (and arguably two of the best songs of the night), the anthemic title track and the epic mini-opera "Jesus of Suburbia."
Taking it down a notch, Armstrong soulfully crooned "Brutal Love" (from "¡Tré!"), a perfect closing number for what will be remembered by many as a perfect concert.
Full article at Worcester Telegram: HERE