Review: Green Day scaled down but still big at Fillmore

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Detroit — You can take Green Day out of the arena but you can’t take the arena out of Green Day.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, long since used to packing arenas and amphitheaters, scaled down for a relatively intimate concert at a sold-out Fillmore Detroit Monday night.

Green Day singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong performs on stage at The Fillmore in Detroit.

But if the 30-song, two hour and 15 minute show was small in scale and production – the group, rounded up to a six-piece, played in front of a simple Green Day banner – it wasn’t lacking in the audience interaction and theatrics that have long been a part of Green Day’s live shows.

“DETROIT!” lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong bellowed early into the opener, “Know Your Enemy.” And from there he was leading the crowd in screams of “heyyy-ohhhhh” and fist-pumping “hey! hey! hey” chants that he would repeat throughout the night.

During “Holiday,” the stage lights were cut and Armstrong shone a single spotlight into the crowd, warning in mock-narration that President Donald Trump has issued a 10 p.m. curfew for all citizens. (The audience booed right on cue at the mention of Trump’s name.) A fan was brought up from the crowd to close out “Longview.” And the drag anthem “King for a Day” was brought out late into the set, meshing with the Isley Brothers’ “Shout” (and the Who’s “The Kids Are Alright,” and the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and the Beatles’ “Hey Jude”) just as it has been for years.

There was even an ASL interpreter set off to the side of the stage, a staple of festival concerts rarely seen at smaller club and theater shows.

So if it wasn’t quite a gritty, back-to-basics affair, Monday’s show – rescheduled from a postponed September concert – offered the thrill of seeing a big band in a small-ish venue. It won’t get that good for Green Day fans again for awhile; it was the group’s first concert in the building since Nov. 1997, and its next local engagement is a March date at Joe Louis Arena.

A favorite knock against Green Day is the group isn’t punk, a claim the group hasn’t been making since its 1994 breakthrough on MTV. Especially since its 2004 rock opera “American Idiot” the group is more like a mix of Queen and the Ramones, so it made sense Green Day took the stage after “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Blitzkrieg Bop” warmed up the crowd.

“Bang Bang” followed the opener, one of six new songs from the band’s new album “Revolution Radio” cracked open during the evening. Those songs (of the newbies, “Still Breathing” worked best) were mixed in with hits and fan favorites dating back to the group’s 1992 album “Kerplunk”; that album’s “Private Ale” and “Christie Road” were played back-to-back one-third of the way through the show, the tightest portion of the evening that saw the group dropping the shtick and ripping through a handful of songs in rapid fire succession.

Armstrong, a truly dynamic frontman born for the stage, urged fans to live in the moment even if that meant putting down their phones for a few moments. “Look me in the eye!” he urged. “This is the great human experience, don’t let it pass you by!”

Mike Dirnt’s plucky bass and Tre Cool’s spirited drumming helped round out the group’s big sound, especially massive on “American Idiot” and “Jesus of Suburbia,” which came in succession during the four-song encore.

Armstrong called the band’s songs “unity music” and his live-for-the-day ethos came through loud and clear. Now he and his bandmates can get back to arenas where they can shout it from a much larger stage.

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

@grahamorama

Setlist:

1. Know Your Enemy

2. Bang Bang

3. Revolution Radio

4. Holiday

5. Letterbomb

6. Boulevard of Broken Dreams

7. Longview

8. Youngblood

9. Armatage Shanks

10. Welcome to Paradise

11. J.A.R.

12. Private Ale

13. Christie Road

14. Burnout

15. Scattered

16. Hitchin' a Ride

17. Waiting

18. Are We the Waiting

19. When I Come Around

20. St. Jimmy

21. Basket Case

22. She

23. King For a Day

24. Shout (Isley Brothers cover)

25. Still Breathing

26. Forever Now

Encore:

27. American Idiot

28. Jesus of Suburbia

29. Ordinary World

30. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)