No concert is utterly perfect but if there's a benchmark for today's rock shows look no further than Green Day.
The California punk rock band didn't disappoint and made fans feel they got their money's worth and more with a spectacular three-hour non-stop marathon of favorites at Toronto's Molson Canadian Amphitheatre Wednesday night.
Still touring behind 21st Century Breakdown, Green Day brought out all the stops - and pyrotechnics galore - when not bringing a myriad of fans onstage to dance, sing lead or be saved by the preacher/singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong.
Now a six-piece touring outfit, the band kicked off the roughly three-dozen song set list with the new album's title track as the small but manic Armstrong got the nearly sold-out crowd up and pumped.
The biggest challenge often is keeping that energy high, yet fans never sat down the rest of the night, hopping around to When I Come Around, belting out Know Your Enemy or the ballad Boulevard Of Broken Dreams which Armstrong let them take lead on.
"We're going to play all f------ night long," he said about 30 minutes in, a cliche rarely delivered on in the current climate of 80-minute to 90-minute "productions." By the time they rounded out the 150-minute main set, that statement was fact.
Still full of jokes and sophomoric hijinx, Armstrong, drummer Tre Cool and bassist Mike Dirnt tore through the older material with the same youthful abandon circa their Dookie breakthrough in 1994. The album was represented with Basket Case, Burnout, She and When I Come Around that had the age-spanning audience hopping. These were eclipsed by Longview when Armstrong brought out a fan from the audience to sing the entire song. Despite destroying his belt in the process, the guy delivered the goods and left with Armstrong's guitar as a thank you.
Despite smashing a guitar into the steps leading to Cool's drum kit at one point, Armstrong was having a lot of fun, bringing up a 9-year-old during East Jesus Nowhere and having him collapse on stage like a televangelist with his congregation. Asking the boy's name - Sawyer - Armstrong grinned before riffing some of Rush's Tom Sawyer. "Sawyer, you just gave me a gift," he said laughing.
Overall, Green Day mixed the old with the new quite well, nailing an old-school middle portion featuring Nice Guys Finish Last, the hillbilly-tinged Dominated Love Slave (with Cool and Armstrong switching spots for) and J.A.R. These seemed to complement the newer nuggets like St. Jimmy, the lengthy Jesus Of Suburbia and the foot-stomping American Idiot. A Canadian flag with "Canadian Idiot" written on it by fans was something Armstrong clung to throughout the evening.
While a slight lull in the proceedings took place during a medley of the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction, Monty Python's Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life and The Beatles' Hey Jude, Green Day hit the homestretch looking no worse for wear on 21 Guns and Minority. And by the time the group bid good riddance to the faithful, most probably felt they just ran a marathon.
1. Song of the Century
2. 21st Century Breakdown
3. Know Your Enemy
4. East Jesus Nowhere (feat. Tom Sawyer Guitar Riff)
6. ¡Viva la Gloria!
7. Give Me Novacaine
9. Are We The Waiting
10. St. Jimmy
11. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
12. Nice Guys Finish Last
15. Dominated Love Slav
16. J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva)
17. Paper Lanterns
18. 2000 Light Years Away
19. Hitchin' A Ride
20. When I Come Around
21. Iron Man/Eye of the Tiger/Sweet Child O' Mine/Fly By Night/Highway To Hell/Ain't Talkin' Bout Love Medley
22. Brain Stew
25. Basket Case
27. King For A Day
28. Satisfaction/Hey Jude/Shout
29. 21 Guns
31. American Idiot
32. Jesus Of Suburbia
33. Last Night on Earth
34. Wake Me Up When September Ends
35. Good Riddance