AUBURN HILLS -- Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong has been asking if we've got the time to listen to him whine for nearly two decades now. On Tuesday night (July 14) at the Palace, however, it appears that less people do.
After packing both the Palace and Cobo Arena during its 2004-05 "American Idiot" campaign, the multi-platinum punk trio from the San Francisco Bay Area struggled to bring a little over 10,000 into the house for its long-awaited return. The economy is making those curtained-off sections a regular feature at Palace shows these days, but it's also possible that the lengthy break between albums dispersed Green Day's audience a bit.
But if it's not as potent at the box office, the group still proved itself a powerhouse on stage, delivering its most fully-realized show yet -- nearly two and a half hours of high-octane rock that pushed punk's stylistic parameters beyond the usual angsty fury and into areas of true dynamic sophistication. And though the concert was certainly steeped in the socio-political treatises of "American Idiot" and Green Day's new album, "21st Century Breakdown," the group reminded us that we can still have a pretty good time bemoaning society's ills.
So while Green Day -- bolstered by three additional musicians including longtime second guitarist Jason White -- came roaring out with 10 songs split between its two concept albums, and the first four from "21st Century Breakdown," before Armstrong was gleefully dropping verbal F-bombs, calling for a Tigers hat from the audience and spitting out the lyrics to "Holiday" while brandishing a crutch he borrowed from another fan. He brought a female fan on stage to sing the anthemic "Are We the Waiting," two more fans to lead the crowd through the breakthrough hit "Longview" during a long segment of "old school" Green Day favorites and yet another -- a quite self-assured one at that -- to play his guitar for the opening portion of the "Jesus of Suburbia" suite.
Armstrong opened "Brain Stew" with guitar licks from Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" and Kiss' "Detroit Rock City." And for the vaudevillian "King For a Day," the entire group romped around the stage wearing silly hats and broke into bits of the Isley Brothers' "Shout," the Crew-Cuts' "Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)," the Jackson 5's "I'll Be There" and Ben E. King's "Stand By Me."
Complemented by pyrotechnics and a backdrop that employed live video and static images, it was a typically energetic and engaging performance that was even more fleshed out and focused than we've seen Green Day in the past. And as Armstrong sang his hopes that we had the time of our lives in the show-closing "Good Riddance," the answer was fully in the affirmative.
Green Day's set list on Tuesday night included:
Song of the Century/21st Century Breakdown
Know Your Enemy
East Jesus Nowhere
The Static Age,
Before the Lobotomy
Are We the Waiting
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Hitchin' a Ride
King For a Day/Shout/Earth Angel/I'll Be There/Stand By Me