Green Day

support Meet Me @ The Altar
author PP date 07/06/22 venue Forum, Copenhagen, DEN

Forum is nearly sold out tonight - it's been a while since we've been to packed concerts here last time, at least during summertime. I had happily forgotten how unorganized this venue feels when it nears capacity: massive queues to the toilets, more than 20 minutes wait for beers/water, but what's worse, the venue appears to have forgotten to turn on air conditioning. I've been to Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas during summertime with temperatures approaching 40 degrees outside and felt cooler than anywhere in the Green Day crowd tonight. Unbearable temperatures and humongous lines for any relief thereof are not exactly a winning combination. That the support starts 15 minutes earlier than communicated via email channels to ticket holders is also not acceptable. Forum needs to do better here. Note, we do not have any pictures of tonight's show as the organizer All Things Live / ICO refused to accredit our media for undisclosed reasons despite adding multiple blogs and smaller outlets to the list tonight.

Meet Me @ The Altar

"There aren't enough girls playing pop punk music, so we take a lot of pride in saying that we're an all-girl pop punk band", vocalist Edith Johnson proclaims early on as Meet Me @ The Altar take on opening duties for the Green Day tour. Five girls swirling around the stage playing pop punk with an easycore crunch is indeed quite the spectacle for its novelty. References to early New Found Glory material, A Day To Remember's poppy takes, and bands like Fall Out Boy and Set Your Goals are aplenty as their bouncy expression gets heads bopping right away.

"This is the biggest crowd we've ever played for", she continues, and frankly, it shows. Their distortion-laden pop punk isn't quite able to fill the arena-sized stage despite Johnson's impressive up-and-down scaling range in the vocals department. To my great annoyance, they don't even trust their own songs enough and resort to playing a medley of covers from Jimmy Eat World to New Found Glory's "My Friends Over You" and a segment of Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff". Big thumbs down for that choice.

On stage, the girls bounce around with formidable energy, playing a variety of raw pop punk tracks that are probably better on record than they sound at Forum tonight. With positively charged vibes and a couple of catchy tunes, they leave behind an impression of "I should check them out" for genre enthusiasts, while the crunchy sound clearly goes way over the heads of at least the mainstream segments of Green Day's audience.

Green Day

Heeeeey - hoooooo. I've seen Green Day quite a few times since 2005, and at some point, during the last twenty years, you'd wish they'd behave less like a corporate business and more like an unpredictable punk rock band. These days, if you've been to one Green Day show, you've seen all of them. What used to be a tour-specific form of repetition has since shifted into a career-specific form of repetition, where every single gimmick lives despite having been first introduced on the "American Idiot" tour.

Take the intro songs. The usual Queen and Ramones hymns and flashing lights get the crowd ready while their drunken bunny mascot drinks a local beer and makes a fool out of himself on stage. He's then removed and the band kicks off with a high-energy song, this time with the title track from "American Idiot". Sure enough, the crowd leaps into a huge sing-along whilst we start paying attention to the massive screens behind the band displaying their every move on stage (although the video was lagging badly behind the audio all the way through). "Hey, ho, hey, ho, hey, ho", on and on and on we go already during the first fucking song as the temperature rises in the crowd. After what feels like six or seven minutes (the original song is under three minutes long!), vocalist Billie Joe Armstrong finally breaks the crowd control and reminds us that Covid-19 is now over: "It took us two years to get here Copenhagen! Two fucking years!", after which they launch directly into "Holiday".

But back to the stunts again. During "Know Your Enemy", a fan is invited on stage to sing a part of the song (pretty sure he didn't know all of the lyrics) before vaulting into the crowd in a huge (orchestrated) stage dive. This has been happening during various songs for the better part of 15 years at least. Fireworks and explosives then go off with a huge bang that, at least in the undersigned, still sound a bit excessive in an indoor environment.

Then it's time for a segment of older stuff (relatively speaking). "Nice Guys Finish Last" is a great addition to the setlist, even if the crowd is far quieter than during their commercial material from "American Idiot". Still, Armstrong shouts "Let's goooo craaazyyyy" mid-song and the crowd gladly obliges. "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" takes us briefly back to mainstream material with seemingly everyone in the crowd waving their hands left and right in unison, before a series of simply awesome Green Day tracks follow: "Longview", "Welcome To Paradise", "Hitchin' A Ride" and "Brain Stew" take us back to when the band was truly excellent. Let's zoom in on all of these for a moment.

First, "Longview" is introduced with the inimitable bass lines of Mike Dirnt. To make a point of just how smooth his licks are: a video camera is attached to the top of his fret so we can zoom in on his finger-work. Then, "Welcome To Paradise" unleashes a thunderous sing-along from the crowd, creating a vibe that the show is rapidly trending upward in all possible aspects...

...that is, until Green Day introduces the first totally worthless segment of the night: a cover of KISS's incredibly cliché "Rock and Roll All Nite". What possible reason is there to play this song instead of picking another "Nimrod" track, other than to give the crowd a chance to go to the bathroom or to the bar to reload? Then, "Hitchin' A Ride" briefly gets our mood up with its classic bouncy guitar line, only to be ruined with what feels like ten minutes' worth of crowd control and more heeee-hooo crap. Why does the band resort to doing this instead of just playing the songs? I mean, when they just play, like on "When I Come Around" shortly after, the atmosphere is one of the best community feelings given the sing-along and shared joy over a genre classic like this one. Alas, "21 Guns" feels like usual mainstream drivel right after, intended for the lighters-in-the-air type of stuff than music for enthusiasts.

"Minority" repels such thoughts from my mind shortly after, but then we're back to the usual "heeeyyuuuhooooh" crowd control that serves no purpose other than to irritate me. Perhaps it gives the band a chance to rest themselves? After all, they are starting to both look and sound really...really....really old. The vocals are no longer as crisp as they used to be, Tre Cool looks like he's close to exhaustion behind the kit, and overall the band feels...tired?

Back to the stunts, though. For as long as I can remember, they have been bringing an audience member on stage for "Knowledge", this time it doesn't quite go as well as usual as the (admittedly very young) girl isn't quite able to play the song correctly. Loads of time wasted here as well. Luckily, "Basket Case" is at least faithful to the original and draws a massive sing-along in the process. Then we get "King For A Day", which is broken up to a saxophone solo in the middle and what feels like peak hee-hoo right after. I jotted down in my notes: "fucking hell" at this point. It doesn't get much better than the song blends into yet another cover song, "Shout" by The Isley Brothers. Again, the question that remains is why?. This could've been "She" instead, for example. Just think about that for a second.

Now we're approaching the end of the set, and the usual "Wake Me Up When September Ends" + "Jesus Of Suburbia" tease an ending before a confetti storm rains down on us during "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" for the grand finale.

Looking back, the setlist has been mostly fantastic, so what gives? Well, the whole thing just feels like a big business product. Everything is pre-planned, and the same gimmicks have been on repeat for two decades now. The crowd control is ridiculously excessive: it takes room from at least six or seven original songs as we pointlessly shout along heeeeyyy-hoooo like this is a schlagerfest or something.

Sure, if you've never seen a Green Day show before, it's an overwhelming sensory experience with loads of entertainment from start to finish. They're just at the edge of no longer being able to play the old material with the energy (and quality) that they deserve, so we're still at a point where Green Day can create great memories if you haven't seen them before. If you have - especially if you've seen them multiple times - you can't help but feel a little stupid paying over and over again for the exact same product. Especially since the band stubbornly chooses crowd-pleaser covers instead of rarities in their setlist.

After all, there are exactly zero songs tonight from albums beyond 2009's "21st Century Breakdown", and only two since 2004's "American Idiot". That should tell you all you need to know about their studio output in the last fifteen years. But despite a solid setlist, at least yours truly feels a little underwhelmed. Way too much crowd control, way too predictable, and way too commercialized, despite still being a decent show. Heeeey-hooooo.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. American Idiot
  • 2. Holiday
  • 3. Know Your Enemy
  • 4. Pollyanna
  • 5. Nice Guys Finish Last
  • 6. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
  • 7. Longview
  • 8. Welcome to Paradise
  • 9. Hitchin' a Ride
  • 10. Rock and Roll All Nite (KISS cover)
  • 11. Brain Stew
  • 12. St. Jimmy
  • 13. When I Come Around
  • 14. 21 Guns
  • 15. Minority
  • 16. Knowledge (Operation Ivy cover)
  • 17. Basket Case
  • 18. King for a Day
  • 19. Shout (The Isley Brothers cover)
  • 20. Wake Me Up When September Ends
  • 21. Jesus of Suburbia
  • 22. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

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