A big show

Last night I wound up at the Air Canada Centre for a concert. In this case, I distinguish between the terms “concert” and “show.” I see concerts as big-ticket affairs in places like the Air Canada and Rogers Centres, venues that hold tens of thousands of people. Shows happen in bars and other such places, featuring at most a few hundred people.

Going back to a stadium after devoting so much time to showgoing was interesting. It all felt a little weird at first, the process of joining tons of people as they filed into the ACC, avoiding all of the scalpers outside, and then finding our seats in the massive arena.

Oh, in case you didn’t know, it was Green Day playing the ACC last night, I’m not what you might call the biggest fan in the world, but my younger brother is and so I went along with him. I’ve actually seen Green Day live twice now, the first time being a few years ago.

Green Day would have been here in February (I think) but had to postpone the date after Billie Joe Armstrong went into rehab for substance abuse problems for a bit.

Anyway, the opening act was a band called Best Coast, a group I had definitely heard of previously but had never heard the music from. They were pretty decent, playing some kind of catchy powerpop tunes. The lead singer was quite humble, at one point commenting how much bigger the ACC was than she thought. They played a lot of short songs, stuffing something like 10 or 11 songs into about 25 minutes or so.

And then, of course, Green Day took the stage to riotous applause. Now, if there’s one advantage stadium affairs have over bars it’s that, most of the time, you’ll get a much huger audience reaction because people have paid quite a bit more to see their favourite bands, and they’ll react accordingly. At bars I’ve seen bands try to get audience participation with various success, but right from the outset Billie Joe Armstrong had the audience in the palm of his hand.

I’m going to go on record and say that I was not a fan of the first 30 minutes in the show. Armstrong was understandably excited, but spent tons of time saying things like “Toronto!” and “Canada!” and “Let’s go fucking crazy!” and the ubiquitous “I said hey oh…” followed by the audience repeating it back. It was through all of this that the band managed to make six songs take 30 MINUTES to play, when, if they had just played them start to finish, they might have had a little more time to play songs.

But after that first half hour, things definitely picked up a little bit. The crowd got really pumped for “Holiday” (Armstrong changed the spoken-word part to “The representative of Canada has the floor) and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” had the audience basically singing the first verse when Armstrong turned the mic to the crowd.

Green Day even took a few requests, playing old stuff like “Geek Stink Breath.” Funny story: apparently every country refused to air the music video for that song because it was deemed too disgusting. Except for Canada.

It wasn’t too long before they did their costume-filled cover medley, with drummer Tre Cool at one point getting off the drum kit (dressed in a shirt and bra over top) kicking his legs up super high and singing a verse of “Shout.” They also did their usual “Satisfaction” by Rolling Stones and then the Beatles’ “Hey Jude,”

For an encore, Green Day played “American Idiot” followed by a full rendition of “Jesus of Suburbia,” which was pretty cool to hear live. They ended with a song I wasn’t familiar with, and I’m not sure if that one was a cover or something else entirely.

Anyway, as much as I’m not someone who will put Green Day on my iPod (even though I don’t have an iPod or use any type of MP3 player except for my good old laptop) they do put on quite a show for their loyal fans.

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