Review: Green Day, Leeds First Direct Arena

Green Day's latest album Revolution Radio was released in October
Green Day's latest album Revolution Radio was released in October

"I don't want to see any selfies tonight," grinned frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, revving the Leeds First Direct Arena audience up as Green Day's ballistic and mesmerising power show got under way on Sunday night.

There were no selfies, no smartphones, and no social media when this band first formed in the late 80s, and, for a couple of hours on Sunday night in Leeds, 10,000 people were treated to a taste of those times when audiences were more interested in what was happening on stage than on Snapchat.

The cheers that followed proved that swathes of the crowd appreciated the sentiment.

Armstrong's energy is contagious, belying his barely believable years (it's 44 - I did an internet search... after the show) and within seconds of opening number Know Your Enemy the arena was on its feet, screaming the words back at its hero, who duly responded with a trademark jump - massively appreciated by the hoards of fans who have grown up with this band.

The show was the first of three British legs of the Revolution Radio tour, coinciding with the launch of an album of the same name - their twelfth - in October.

Drummer Tré Cool, bassist Mike Dirnt and guitarist Jason White were on spectacular form, as watchable and youthful as ever.

The new tunes were well received, woven in as they were in between classics such as Holiday, Longview, Boulevard of Broken Dreams and When I Come Around.

Armstrong belts them out as he always has done, not really needing to ask his loyal crowd to yell his lyrics back at him.

On the subject of interaction, what about the young girl who emerged from the crowd to sing her heart out on a platform with the frontman himself?

Or the Scot, who had the night of his life running around stage with Armstrong on one arm and a flag on the other?

Appearance of the night, however, was enjoyed by the young man from Nottingham who was selected from the crowd to play guitar on stage with the band and did so admirably, playing with his heroes as if this was just another school night.

More was to come for the lad, however, who lifted his hands to his head in amazement when Armstrong let him keep the guitar. A second Christmas for him. An touching moment for the rest of the arena.

Then we were back to the hits.

St Jimmy, Basket Case and King for a Day were followed by a moment of reflection for the rockers, who fell to the floor to guide us down an avenue I don't think anyone expected.

Namely, a quick blast of Summer Loving.

Moving on, Armstrong was then overwhelmed by the arena's thunderous rendition of Hey Jude, prompting the reflection: "This is why we love playing in this country. You guys feel about music how we feel about music. It's passion."

Massive Green Day sign flashing on the back wall and band back jumping, Armstrong and the gang catapulted us back into 2017 - Still Breathing, their current record, has already achieved anthemic status.

By this point, they had been on stage longer than two hours. Chart-toppers take note, it's not every band that gives its fans this much time.

And they weren't done yet.

A booming encore presented American Idiot followed by Jesus of Suburbia.

It wouldn't be a Green Day gig without the band making a statement.

Armstrong's three word utterance, which arrived towards the end of the evening, cannot be repeated here, but can you guess who the subject was?

Cue further cheering. This is a frontman who gives his fans exactly what they want.

After Cool, Dirnt and White waved farewell to the arena, Armstrong strolled out with an acoustic guitar, playing Ordinary World and Good Riddance (time of your life) to his rapt audience.

The satire that peppers Armstrong's writing often alludes to incidents long since past, but could it just as easily allude to the major issues of our time?

Countless bands have come and gone since 1986. Some have a big hit, two or three if they're lucky. But Green Day are one of a kind.

Perhaps their ability to adapt has never been clearer than on this tour.

Here is a band, formed 30 years ago, whose songs don't age, whose members don't get tired, whose fanbase continues to grow and who appear to be more relevant now than ever.

Green Day, Leeds First Direct Arena, Sunday February 5, 2017

www.greenday.com