Green Day, SECC, Glasgow


Punk rockers have a grey day

It's a great job description, to be the voice of a youth who is vaguely disaffected but still armed with a subscription to every cable music channel he can lay his eyes upon. It means you can amass a level of respect that places you among the last decade's highest pantheon of American rock groups alongside the likes of Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers, but you still get to make a living tearing around a stage in silly hats as your trousers slip down around your hips.

That Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong, at the age of 37, is perfectly placed to relate to an arena full of original punks and wild-haired schoolkids probably accounts for much of the reverence afforded his band these days, although they've also amassed a weighty selection of hits in the 15 years since Dookie first saw them rise to prominence. Through a set which stretched to nearly two-and-a-half hours, we were never more than a couple of songs away from a bona fide international hit, and the spaces were filled by fan-favourite album tracks and songs from their most recent record, 21st Century Breakdown.

In the event, this show was part state of the nation address (to America), part punk rock cabaret. The bleached-blond, black eyelinered Armstrong continues to resemble a manga hero styled by Vivienne Westwood, and he fortunately doesn't go in for Bono-style sloganeering. Yet still, his group are responsible for one of the past decade's finest pop protest songs, "American Idiot", which began their encore here with possibly the biggest cheer of the night. This is Green Day's zenith, a calamitously noisy song with a perfect yell-along lyric, a wake-up call aimed at their average listener in suburban America, and – in this live context – a few pyrotechnic explosions to emphasise what a key part it plays in the set.

Arguably, it's their finest moment, but its magnificence shouldn't overshadow just how silly parts of the rest of the set were. In particular, the hat affair. With comedy cowboy's and wizard's headgear in place, the quartet merged "King for a Day" into a medley of quickfire covers; there was the Doors' "Break on Through", Ben E King's "Stand by Me", the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" and, possibly in dual tribute to their current location, Lulu's "Shout" and Travis' "Why Does It Always Rain on Me?" Although sections of the audience seemed to love this, it was sheer cabaret, the arena- rock equivalent of a respected actor pulling on a funny costume and hamming it up in panto.

That's the Green Day dichotomy, really. For a band who have grabbed the attention of so many, they still seem happy to coast along on the same gurning, jokey style they pioneered when they and a large chunk of their audience were much younger. There are flashes of maturity in the title track of the new album, and in its contemporaries "Know Your Enemy" and "21 Guns". But such enduring common-room anthems as "Basket Case" and "Brain Stew" seem strangely out of place coming from a band who might hope that their music will mature alongside them. It is, you suppose, the universal dilemma of the ageing punk.

Perhaps the most unifying moment of the set other than "American Idiot" was also its most subtle. After announcing "Jesus of Suburbia" as the last song, Armstrong then carried on with a three-song solo acoustic set, backed not by tickertape explosions and showers of sparks, but a canopy of sky-blue spotlights and the quiet attention of the crowd. These songs, including "Wake Me Up When September Ends" and the uncharacteristically tender "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)", emphasised the folksy heart that separates Green Day from the snotty show-offs they so often pretend to be.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Scandi crush: Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    Th Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
    France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

    Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

    Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
    'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

    Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

    Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
    Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

    Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

    New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn