Arriving at the Independent quite unexpectedly for a surprise, sold-out show announced just hours beforehand, Green Day was everything you’d expect them to be – loud, punctual and exceptionally polished after a hiatus of nearly three years.
While the nearly three-hour concert was essentially a showcase for their new album, 21st Century Breakdown – which, from the sound of it, picks up right where 2004’s American Idiot left off, with plenty of down-tempo, piano-heavy ballads and no small amount of socially conscious angst – longtime fans were treated to a raucous, boundlessly energetic set featuring trademark hits like “Longview,” “Christie Road” and “Jesus of Suburbia.”
Sauntering onto the stage just a few minutes after 10 o’clock and promptly tearing through a muscular rendition of “Welcome to Paradise,” the Berkeley-bred trio (who performed most of the evening as a finely tuned sextet, thanks to some accompanying friends) were sufficiently animated but, more than anything, consummately composed, rarely hitting a false note during their marathon workout. They even posed for a quick photo op after the opener, with lead singer Billy Joe Armstrong encouraging fans to take their best cell-phone snapshots before imploring them to “put the fucking things away.”
If the band seemed a bit too slick to qualify as punk, no matter. The mostly thirty-something crowd, who roared throughout, embraced the experience with open arms and raised fists, bellowing the lyrics to the most familiar numbers while busily maneuvering themselves into position for more pictures during the new ones.