Ten years ago, Green Day was a punk/pop trio with a monster-selling album, “Dookie,” that was mostly bought up by disaffected youth enjoying punk rock's resurgence.
Today, judging by the number of radio station vans parked around the America West Arena (KDKB, KEDJ, MIX 96, KZON) Green Day is arguably the biggest band in rock, a group with universal appeal to punks, rockers, pre-teens and 50-somethings, all of whom were represented in the packed America West Arena crowd.
Kicking off with three straight tunes from their latest, Grammy-winning album “American Idiot,” Green Day — led by singer Billie Joe Armstrong — had the crowd up on its feet, and the masses would not sit down during the band's two hour-plus set.
Armstrong was like a master of ceremonies in the punk rock circus, orchestrating the crowd like a conductor on when to cheer and sing along, and even got the audience to do the wave by merely lifting the palm of his hand.
No longer just a bare bones punk trio with a simple stage presentation, Green Day played amidst a flashing light show and some serious pyrotechnics, and were buttressed by an extra guitarist, a trumpet player and a multi-instrumentalist who played piano, sax and accordion to flesh out the sound.
While old school Green Day fans might be thinking “sell out!” or “that ain't punk,” the band appeased longtime fans with blistering renditions of older hits such as “Longview,” “Basket Case” and “2000 Light Years Away.”
Still, the biggest applause was saved for the tunes from “American Idiot,” Green Day's rock opera that takes the Bush administration to task, and Armstrong issued forth a few profanity-laced tirades on exactly what he thinks of George W. to raucous applause from the crowd.
The audience also was treated to some hijinks during the show, as Armstrong gathered up three fans to play bass, drums and guitar to help Green Day finish a cover of Operation Ivy's “Knowledge,” and both Armstrong and bassist Mike Dirnt pranced and ran from one side of the stage to the other like black-clad whirling dervishes.
“I liked the interaction (Armstrong) had with the crowd,” said Erin Stein, 21, of Chandler. “I thought that was so cool.”
Hometown heroes Jimmy Eat World returned to the Valley as the opening act and played a tight 35-minute set that saw the band performing with much more energy and enthusiasm than their December show at the Glendale Arena.
Clearly excited to be in front of the home crowd on the one of the biggest tours of the year, Jimmy Eat World frontman Jim Adkins joked that the band must have written the best essay on why they should be touring with Green Day, but the Mesa quartet clearly showed on this night that they belong in the big leagues. The band delivered a rousing set that included hits such as “The Middle,” “Pain” and “Bleed American.”
“Seeing Jimmy Eat World makes me proud to live here,” said Wes Durham, 25, of Chandler.
Green Day set list (partial)
Jesus of Suburbia
Hitchin’ A Ride
2000 Light Years Away
King For a Day/Shout/Stand By Me
Wake Me Up When September Comes
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
We Are The Champions
Jimmy Eat World Set List
Get It Faster