What’s Billie Joe saying here? Clue: it probably rhymes with ‘Play-doh’
WORDS: JENNYFER J. WALKER PHOTOS: ANDY GALLAGHER
IN A weeklong line-up of headliners including The Killers, Kings Of Leon, Phil Collins and Billie Joe Armstrong’s favourite, Justin Bieber, this Green Day-topped bill is most certainly considered the ‘punk day’. Even more so with crusty punks Rancid supporting – that’s two Armstrongs for the price of one, and three if you caught Joey Armstrong’s band SWMRS earlier on in the day.there’s about as many die-hard Rancid fans here as the members of Rancid have hairs on their heads, with most of the crowd sporting Green Day shirts, or looking like they’ve just wandered in for a picnic. But the Berkeley punks’ fast, furious set does the job.at 22 songs it drags a little – especially during new tracks like Where I’m Going and Buddy. But the dancier Journey To The End Of The East Bay is a highlight, warming everyone up with its yells of ‘AY! AY! AY!’ (more of that later) – and it even gets the sign language lady skanking in her little video box. People are stoked for Time Bomb, too, but that might just be because it’s almost time for Green Day to play.
Like East Bay postmen, Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool always deliver.there’s that heartwarming connection between band and crowd: Billie Joe desperately seeking out a guy to sing Know Your Enemy, and a girl for Welcome To Paradise. He also soaks the audience with a pressure-washer hose, which he swaps for a T-shirt cannon, firing shirts so far out they almost land in Regent’s Park.
That said, being brutally honest, there are way-oh too many way-ooooohs. Of all varieties, too. During Hitchin’ A Ride they range from whispery to loud to, er, silence, as Billie just sits on the stage and waits for people to do their own.they don’t, but he’s enjoying himself anyway.“i said ah waaaaaay-oooooh!” he shouts jumping back up, yelping like some sort of parrot-dog hybrid, before offering,“welcome to the jungle, baby! You’re gonna dieeeeee!”
But then there’s the songs. So. Many. Songs.
Bang Bang is as explosive as its title, Holiday sounds just perfect and people clap without even being instructed during the extended bridge, which leads into Billie’s chants of “No racism, no sexism, no homophobia, and no…” he growls, “Donald Trump!”
The trio’s playing is as tight as The Donald’s white tennis shorts – songs so committed to muscle memory that neither beat nor note is missed. During When I Come Around, Billie Joe literally plays the guitar behind his head, standing on one leg.they make this shit look so easy.
The people struggling to keep up are out in the crowd, gasping for enough air to facilitate yelling along to the likes of St. Jimmy, Basket Case and Minority, whilst also using up said air with continuous jumping around to these timeless tracks.
Billie Joe’s on particularly chatty form this evening, referencing the hard times London has suffered recently. “But tonight we’re gonna have some fucking good times!” he exclaims post-letterbomb.“this is dedicated to weirdos, freaks and metalheads,” he offers before a beautifully delicate a capella intro to Jesus Of Suburbia, before a full-on rant during the medley section.
“I don’t need any more bullshit!” he yells, face and body on the floor of the stage.“i don’t want anymore politicians telling me what to think.we all come from fucked-up backgrounds, everyone’s got some shit they don’t wanna talk about. But we come together, we get fucked-up together.this is about freedom! From this point forward there’s gonna be a change in us; I firmly believe rock’n’roll music can change the world.”
While it might not change the world tonight (although the wheels of revolution are certainly in motion), Green Day’s presence does make the shit London’s been through recently feel a little bit better. And as the feels and confetti rain down over Hyde Park during the closing notes of Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life), it’s clear these 65,000 people have never felt so free.what a band.what a night.