Green Day takes Providence for a spin

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By Jocelyn Cote
Reviews Editor

On the evening of Tuesday, April 9th, the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island was abuzz with music fans young and old numbering over 10,000 gathering to see one of the most popular modern punk bands of all time, Green Day. Some went as far as camping out overnight to have the chance at a front row seat, and a line stretched around the block hours before door time.

This was Green Day’s first show in Rhode Island in sixteen years – the last being at downtown club Lupo’s in 1997. The band is currently embarking on the “99 Revolutions Tour” to promote its recent album trilogy of ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré!, released late last year.

Green Day onstage

Although originally scheduled for January, the show was postponed to April due to lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong’s treatment for substance abuse. Armstrong has returned to the stage triumphantly, and gave one of his most impressive shows in recent memory to Providence’s crowd.

Opening for the band was Best Coast, an indie pop group hailing from Green Day’s native California. Although they delivered a great performance filled with cute, sappy love songs, their musical style just wasn’t a great match for Green Day’s jarring punk rock. Unfortunately, much of the crowd was unimpressed with their set, and sat in awkward silence for the half hour that they played.

Following the set-up for Green Day’s stage, speakers across the stadium blasted Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” prompting an arena-wide singalong. Afterwards, Green Day’s mascot, the pink “drunk bunny,” took the stage to the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop,” a tradition for every show.

Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tré Cool barreled onto the stage along with guitarist Jason White (who was recently admitted as an official member of the band) and touring musicians Jeff Matika and Jason Freese, and quickly broke into the tour’s namesake song, “99 Revolutions.”

The floor instantly turned into one giant, churning mosh pit as the band followed suit with “Know Your Enemy,” the lead single from 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown. Armstrong invited a small boy onstage to sing along with him, and then had him stage dive at the song’s conclusion in true punk fashion, but not without accepting a bear hug first.

Trilogy songs “Stay the Night” and “Stop When the Red Lights Flash” followed suit, with “Letterbomb” off of the 2004 rock opera American Idiot and Uno‘s lead single “Oh Love.”

With a shout of, “Do you want to start a war?” the entire stadium was up on its feet as White strummed the opening chords of American Idiot gem “Holiday.” Once again, the floor erupted into a brutal mosh pit as Armstrong ordered the lights to go black, with nothing but a single hand-held industrial spotlight on the crowd. “The representative of Rhode Island now has the floor!” the singer barked as the crowd broke into the song’s final verse.

As the band followed with “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” Armstrong was caught off guard when the audience sang the entire first verse in unison before he could even approach the mic. With a smile, he simply stated, “They do it better in New England” and picked up where the crowd left off.

Billie Joe Armstrong

Continuing with Dos‘s “Stray Heart” and “Burnout,” the lead track on Green Day’s breakthrough 1994 album Dookie, Armstrong then looked to the crowd for requests. Two signs from the floor caught the singer’s attention, and he broke into Kerplunk fan-favorite “Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?” per their request.

This eventually turned into a smorgasbord of rarities, including “J.A.R.,” Uno‘s “Carpe Diem,” performed for the first time on the tour, and “Going to Pasalacqua,” which Armstrong introduced with an amusing story of the band’s first time in Rhode Island.

The rest of the main set mostly explored fan-favorite tracks, including Dookie‘s “When I Come Around,” “Longview” (during which Armstrong invited yet another fan onstage to sing), “Basket Case,” and “She.” The band closed with the Irish-tinted “Minority,” and returned shortly after for an encore.

All in attendance belted along to “American Idiot” following the band’s return to the stage and a rendition of the epic 9 minute long “Jesus of Suburbia,” during which the entire crowd waved their arms above their heads in unison, creating a sweet sense of unity across the arena.

The band closed the grandiose two and a half hour show with an emotional rendition of Tre‘s opener “Brutal Love” before leaving the stage for the second and final time.

Despite previous afflictions, Green Day have proved that they can pick themselves back up on their feet and continue to deliver some of the most memorable concerts in the business. The setlist provided a great mix of hit singles, rarities, fan-favorites, and new material to give everyone in the audience great memories of a favorite song. Providence received nothing less than a stunning show from some of rock’s finest.

Author’s note: For more photos from the show, check out my photo set on Flickr.