The history of massively popular bands playing much smaller than usual venues is a long and storied one. Veterans of the Massachusetts scene may recall the Rolling Stones setting up camp for an early 80’s pre-tour warm up gig at the tiny Sir Morgan’s Cove in Worcester, and more recently U2 did a mini concert at The Somerville Theater. Arctic Monkeys jammed all of their arena gear into The Paradise, making an intimate show even tighter, and Green Day now follows suit by launching a dozen or so date club-level tour in support of their newest record, Radio Revolution, which is dropping next week.
For a band used to playing buildings more suited to NBA or NHL games, they made the immediacy of the gig all the more pronounced by frequent crowd interactions that extended well beyond the normal “Hello Boston!” or “Let me see your hands!” exhortations (though those were in effect as well). The first participant was a nervous pre-teen selected by Billie Joe to be hoisted from the packed GA crowd by security, who got a hug and was handed the microphone, responding with a deer-in-the-headlights like Bambi in front of the Tienanmen Square tanks before marshaling his gumption and charging towards the lip, headlong into the crowd with a triumphant stage dive.
As the Billie Joe and company (the trio was augmented to a six piece, with an extra guitarist, singer, and keyboard player) kicked into “Longview,” Armstrong feigned amnesia, bumbled the line, stopped the band and asked if anyone in the crowd knew the lyrics. The next lucky fan pulled from the crowd was apparently rehearsing in his bedroom for months, waiting for this very moment as he roamed the stage, belting out the words with panache and a surprisingly good voice. All stage presence, no stage fright, even down to pantomiming the bit about masturbation.
Aligned with the tour shirts with back design reading No Racism, No Sexism, No Homophobia, Armstrong directed every one to vote in this election year, and mentioning love, inclusion, and respect before making it very clear and saying “and don’t vote for that asshole Trump.” Though released three full campaign cycles ago, “American Idiot” could not be more relevant today. But it wasn’t all preaching, as the rock solid rhythm section of Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool kept the foot on the gas pedal, motoring through classics like “Basket Case,”Welcome To Paradise,” and “When I Come Around.” The contingent of parents who accompanied their kids at this all ages show also got a dose of classic rock nostalgia, with a medley of “Shout,” “Satisfaction” and “Hey Jude” before hilariously wrapping up with the guitar solo that Marty McFly ripped in Back To The Future. The second encore concluded with a solo Armstrong and an acoustic guitar, the words of “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” directly on target with the thoughts of the packed house.
Openers Dog Party are a duo, stripped down to guitar and drums and little else, though the dual voices of Gwendolyn (guitar) and Lucy (drums) helped fill in some of the spaces around their lo-fi take on fuzzed out garage rock.
Click below for a photo gallery of the show: