By Michael Cerio
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — “Put away the camera, we don’t need to film anything” commanded Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong from the BB&T Pavilion stage in Camden, New Jersey Thursday night. “We’ve got to be right here. Don’t save it for later.”
While storming the stage and preaching the ethos of unity and togetherness in the face of unrelenting news and distraction, the Green Day of now gathered their strength in a way that has evolved light years beyond their Bay Area beginnings.
Twenty-three years removed from their Dookie breakthrough, Green Day has emerged as “your friendly neighborhood punk band”. The trio’s iconic snarl is now playfully seasoned, and their edge of danger has been sanded down into a family affair
Somewhere between their on-stage teenage talent show, Billie Joe wielding a t-shirt cannon, and the funny hat sax solo performance during “King For A Day” you realize this is more theatrics than tortured artistry and it’s awesome.
They’ve settled into this role nicely and seem to be having a blast. Really the fact that these three dudes from Oakland got to here is amazing.
Exploding on to the stage with “Know Your Enemy”, Green Day invited their first young fan of the evening up to sing a chorus before diving into the crowd. Filled with nerves from standing beside a beloved band, the boy took some coaxing to jump back into the crowd – but with the charm of a dad teaching his son to ride a bike, Armstrong coached him through the moment.
Looking ragged like a weary cowboy, Billie Joe was dressed in all black with a bandana strung around his neck and a leather vest on his back. With the Revolution Radio banner unfurled behind him in a sea of dizzying lights, he took time to preach and promulgate.
“Shine your light for all the weirdos. Shine your light for all the freaks. Shine your light for all the people down in Houston, Texas right now” he said as the arena lit with phone flashlights swaying in sync to the strumming of “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams”.
The second fan of the evening to join them on stage came for the last verse of “Longview” and completely took over the house showing his own seasoned showmanship. The third was a fourteen year old named Andrew who played guitar and jumped on amps like a star. The crowd chanted his name and he got to take the guitar home as a souvenir. The teen jumped into Armstrong’s arms before his electric exit.
Not only were these fans impressive and better band leaders then some established acts, they served as a glowing example of Green Day’s updated jolly avuncular nature. Sure, time was made to condemn Nazis and curse Trump, but the real star was this relationship the band has forged with their fans.
The t-shirt cannon during an extended bridge break, the hats stolen from the photo booth prop department, the confetti storm sent down upon the crowd – it all proved that “right now” is a pretty great place to be for Green Day.