‘Life ain’t pretty . . . I can testify to that s--t,” opined Billie Joe Armstrong early in last night’s Green Day concert at Barclays Center.
The last eight months have seen him suffer a drink- and prescription-drug-fueled meltdown onstage in Las Vegas, enter an outpatient rehab program, and have his band’s big return come to a screeching halt before it could even get into second gear.
You get the feeling that his testimony on life’s ugliness would indeed be compelling, but Armstrong would never dream of ruining anyone’s night out with such self-pitying.
Instead, he and his Berkeley punks turned in the kind of 2 1/2- hour celebration that has long been their calling card. But before the real pleasure, the band understandably felt the need to deal with the unfinished business of “Uno!” “Dos!” and “Tres!” — their triple whammy of new records that got lost behind the darkened haze of Armstrong’s personal issues. Although Green Day could have done with some quality control on those albums, they front-loaded the show with a smart selection of new songs and proved that the power pop of tracks like “Stop When The Red Lights Flash” and “Stay the Night” could compete with their hit-filled back catalog.
Once the dust has settled, these newer tunes will undoubtedly become part of the Green Day canon, but for now, the band’s stockpile of oldies still hold the key to turning a mere concert into a full-blown rock-’n’-roll party. “Holiday” kick-started that transformation, as Armstrong led a Mexican wave around the arena.
The 50-year-old Green Day fans who probably saw them play in squats in 1991 were given a thrill by the obscurer material, such as “Going to Pasalacqua,” and, as ever, there were numerous opportunities for crowd participation throughout the night. The most entertaining turned out to be a girl who was invited onstage to sing the last verse of “Longview,” and did so as if channeling the spirit of Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst. Armstrong may have seen some wild things in the 25 years he has fronted Green Day, but there’s no accounting for a fan turning them in to a rap-metal group for a few fantastically entertaining moments. No wonder he looked so amused.
It can’t be denied that there are many elements of the band’s onstage shtick that have been in place for years. The extended medley of “King for a Day/Shout,” for example, has been welded to their set lists for a decade, at least. But in the moment, they always manage to pull off these highly practiced pieces as if it were the first time, and there is precious little sign of even the repeat customers using them as bathroom breaks.
Armstrong’s experience in rehab and the associated fallout may have complicated his inner-psyche dramatically, but outwardly, the equation is still pretty simple; If you don’t like Green Day, you probably don’t like having fun.
Full review at NY Post: HERE