Having just returned from a week’s holiday in Cyprus it was bang straight into Mudkiss duties the following day. What better way to kick start the lazy holiday mode than watching a huge band perform. Green Day on their 21st Century Breakdown Tour, with fantastic support in the form of the iconic Joan Jett & The Blackhearts fresh from her knock-out London show. Although I’m not a big fan of stadium shows, I much prefer intimate venues where you can get close and feel the music. So, we are finally in the venue, a mixed crowd of all ages, a lot of younger kids (who probably weren’t born when Green Day started out). We positioned ourselves fairly close to the stage around 4.30pm, had to wait a while for the first support to emerge. Meanwhile it was beginning to get more claustrophobic, pretty warm, youngsters were getting restless and chanting out random words (most annoyingly) the beers are flowing, people getting silly, throwing beer, pieces of paper. There’s always a couple of dickheads your forced to share space with if you choose to get upfront. After tonight’s event I can see why a Green Day show just wouldn’t be the same in a smaller venue.
The first support act was English folk/punk singer Frank Turner, whilst he warmed the crowd up somewhat he just wasn’t enough to stir my eagerly waiting soul. He performed a short acoustic set which didn’t really sit well on this vast stage. Although I did like the way he braved the catwalk for a brief cheeky moment.
Now Joan Jett And The Blackhearts are another matter. They sold out their show at The 100 Club in just five minutes of the tickets going on sale, I was really excited to be watching Joan in action (perhaps more so than Green Day if I am honest). We didn’t have too long to wait before the band emerged, set to a simple black backdrop with a huge banner declaring the bands name. Joan looked slender and stunning, belying her 51 years, dressed simply in a black lycra catsuit.
She belted out the tunes we oldies adopted throughout our youth, the classic and timeless ‘I Love Rock n’ Roll’, the Gary Glitter ‘Do You Wanna Touch’, and a couple of Runaways tracks such as ‘Cherry Bomb’and ‘Schooldays’. Joan is a true original rock n’ roller, whose been in the game for longer than most, since the age of 15 she blasted the vocals and ripped the guitar with The Runaways, named by Rolling Stone as the one of 100 best guitarists of all time. Living for rock n’ roll has been her motto and she certainly didn’t disappoint us today. I just wished they’d allowed the band to turn up the volume a few notches, as they would’ve blown
Suitability warmed and feeling a tad excited the crowd now started to sway a little, we were entertained for 10 minutes or so by a drunken pink rabbit, dancing to the sounds of the Village People's 'YMCA'', which was pretty funny – but not sure what it was all about?
Finally, the Green Day trio strode onto the huge set, blasting into ‘21st Century Breakdown’ with explosions in unison (which scared the fucking life out of me) - singer Billie Jo, all kohl eyed and smiling. Never having witnessed a Green Day show (brought here by my partner) I was uncertain of what to expect. I knew within moments this was not a good place to be stood in and started to feel trapped, panic set in. The crowd went wild, hands flaying, a bit of shoving and movement, I am outta here. We moved towards the side after much jostling and deep breaths, disappointed that my photos wouldn’t be that good from this position. As the show progressed I was totally amazed (in a good way) at the events unfolding. They performed for well over 2 hours, actually bordering on a 3 hour set.
Billie Jo has so much dynamic energy, rushing around the stage, almost frenzied at times. Despite seeming to have a bit of a sniffle, nose running he continued like a trouper. We had audience participation in abundance, a small child was brought up to the stage after Billie Jo shouted - “I need a sacrifice, a human sacrifice, for God and Country right now, I need a fresh young child” Alison from Chicago was plucked from the crowd and engaged in some Green Day shenanigans, singing along to ‘Holiday’ Billie Jo wearing large pink bunny ears.
We had various silliness, which some might have found unnecessary but I enjoyed it, Green Day aren’t afraid to get in touch with their fans. Three others on separate occasions were hand picked by Billie Jo and again pulled from the crowd – first he asked for a guy, he sang with Billie and was cheeky enough to land him a kiss at the end. Then it was the girls turn, she was so confident and bold that I was certain that it was a set up. Another guy got hauled up, not quite as good as the others but what a memory for him, he was asked to do a flying leap into the crowd by Tre’, which was amazing (just glad I wasn’t in the firing line). A little later he pulled a guy out to help him hose the crowd down, with water. We had a toilet roll machine which Billie Jo spewed all over the crowd, and then he asked “who wants a free t shirt” and proceeded to launch several, rolled up into a rocket, which he launched from various positions on the stage. We even got a moony from Billie Jo, not sure at what point but it was certainly a dramatic end to a song.
We had some dressing up and larking around in ‘King For A Day’, intertwined with ‘Lulu’s ‘Shout’- some role swopping. Billie Jo played drums and Tre’ taking to the catwalk singing and pouting in a hat, glasses and bra. We even hear the twinkle of the Benny Hill tune in the mix somewhere. Billie Jo showed his patriotism for England, with a flag draped over him, held aloft and stalking the stage like an all round entertainer - his family apparently originate from the
Well I’ve got this far and not mentioned the music, needless to say it exceeded my expectations. We had the newer stuff from ‘21st Century Breakdown’- my favourite being ‘Jesus Of suburbia’, and ’Boulevard of Broken Dreams’. We also had the older stuff, Billie Jo asks us “are there any old school Green Day fans present” and proceeds to delight us with ‘Burnout’ ‘Geek Stink Breath’ ‘Welcome To
With so much going on its hard to remember it all in the correct sequence – it has to be the most diverse show I’ve ever attended. The lighting effects, LED screens, stunning illuminated backdrops (New York, Televisions ect), explosions & pyrotechnics, all added to the visuals, with vocals strong and passionate the sound was faultless. To cap it all the sun was setting in the distant sky which made the whole ambience remarkable. I spotted Joan Jett watching from the box to the right of the stage. Billie Jo told us he loved
A variety of cover songs surprised us, starting with Guns N’ Roses ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, mixed into AC/DC’S ‘Highway To Hell’ to riotous applaud. They also covered a medley of three tracks, lay prostrate on the floor, singing his heart out to ‘Teenage Kicks, Satisfaction,
They wound up the show with a sweet, emotional, solo acoustic set, merging’ Wake Me Up’ ‘When September Ends’ and ‘Time Of Your Life’. He spoke about it being his favourite show they'd ever played in Manchester "I swear to God I would never want to be in any fucking band but Green Day", and proceeded to make an emotional speech about being in the band, likening breaking up to losing a parent. "You'd have to wheel me away in a fucking coffin to get me out of this band". Remarkable performances throughout, great showmanship, professional and thoroughly entertaining. Best of all you really get the impression these guys are totally enjoying themselves and up for anything. A great day out for everyone!