Christopher Polk, Getty Despite a shaky few months of cancelled and postponed…
- Posted on Mar 16th 2013 3:00PM by Steve McLean
After cancelling a tour in support of three excellent albums that were released in quick succession last year so lead singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong could check into a rehabilitation facility to help kick his alcohol and prescription drug habits, the pop-punk heroes triumphantly returned to the stage on Friday night for a concert that packed the ACL Live at the Moody Theater.
SXSW Music Festival attendees had to enter a lottery to get coveted tickets for the show, which began an hour after what we were told was supposed to be an 8 p.m. start time. But once things got going, there was no stopping Green Day's first major performance since Armstrong's rehab stint.Green Day opened with "99 Revolutions," one of several songs from last year's Uno!, Dos! and Tré! that stand up to anything it has released over the past 25 years. Armstrong appeared fit and agile and showed no rust, looking good enough that a young woman from the fist-pumping audience jumped onstage to hug and kiss him and sing along to "Know Your Enemy."
Armstrong shone a hand-held spotlight on fans filling all three of the venue's levels during "Holiday." Things slowed down a bit for "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and the group reached further back into its catalogue with "Christie Road" from 1992's Kerplunk, its last album for Lookout! Records before achieving superstar status two years later with the multi-platinum Dookie.
While Armstrong mostly sang while bounding around the stage with a microphone in his hand, he showed he was no slouch on guitar either as he joined fellow guitarist Jason White, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool in bashing out snippets of Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" and AC/DC s "Highway To Hell" before launching into a spirited "Brain Stew."
Armstrong brought out a giant water gun and sprayed people before grabbing a toilet paper cannon and shooting rolls into the audience. Another audience member helped himself to the stage to sing along with "Longview." He sounded terrible, but his enthusiasm was appreciated before he was asked to take a running jump back into the pit that he'd emerged from. "Basket Case" turned things up another notch and a few songs later the guy doing backing vocals at the rear of the stage came to the front to briefly play saxophone.
More partial covers followed, with the Isley Brothers' "Shout" (with Armstrong on drums for part of it), a semi-ska version of Ben E. King s "Stand By Me" and the Beatles "Hey Jude," which got almost everyone in the hall clapping along to it.
"Minority" was enhanced by accordion and Armstrong on harmonica and ended the main portion of the two-hour show on an undeniable high before an encore that included "American Idiot," "Jesus of Suburbia" and Tré opener "Brutal Love," which increased in energy as it went on until the closing notes when the band exited the stage for good.
In addition to last night's performance, two Green Day documentaries are screening in Austin as part of this week's SXSW Film Festival. Broadway Idiot chronicles the band's American Idiot theatrical production and Cuatro! does the same for the recording of Uno!, Dos! and Tre!.
The momentum that Green Day lost due to Armstrong's problems last year seems to have returned, and that's a good thing for both him and his group's fans.
What's the Spinner team doing at SXSW? Check out our Rebelmouse page for non-stop live day or night updates.