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July 31, 2009

Concert review: Green Day at the Verizon Center in Washington

green dayRing Posts blogger Kevin Eck was at Green Day's show at the Verizon Center. Take it away, Kevin:

Green Day violated one of the basic rules of the entertainment business with their show at Verizon Center Wednesday night: They didn’t leave the audience wanting more.

Then again, Green Day are rebels at heart, so conventional rules be damned.

The Grammy Award-winning trio held nothing back. They put on an amazing performance, not only with their musicianship, but also with their nonstop energy and ability to keep the audience on its feet, pumping its fists and singing along for over two and a half hours. Green Day played 28 songs.

With tickets priced at just $49.50, a Green Day concert has to be one of the best bargains on the live music scene as far as big-name bands.

Green Day, which first made an impact in the mid-90s as a punk band with catchy riffs and a sense of humor that celebrated the slacker mentality, has pulled off a difficult balancing act. Over the years, they’ve evolved into a more socially conscious band with a political statement, but they haven’t forgotten that, above all, rock and roll shows are supposed to be fun.

And even though they are now a huge arena act – Verizon Center was nearly filled to capacity – Green Day has not put a barrier, either physical or unspoken, between themselves and the audience. Despite playing on a big stage with a high-tech video screen and pyrotechnics that would make Kiss proud, the concert Wednesday night still had the charm of a club show, complete with fans stage diving and crowd surfing.

green dayAt one point, front man Billie Joe Armstrong left the stage and made his way about 15 rows into my section on the lower concourse, playing his guitar the entire time. Not only did he come to the audience, but he also brought some audience members to him.

In what has become a staple of Green Day shows, Armstrong plucked four fans out of the crowd at various times to join him on stage. Two young men took a turn singing lead on “Longview,” and another played guitar on “Jesus of Suburbia.” They all did a heck of a job, by the way.

Also, a girl named Ellie who looked to be about 7 or 8, was “saved” by Armstrong during his parody of a Southern-style televangelist in the middle of “East Jesus Nowhere.” With his hand on her forehead, he looked into her eyes and sang: “A fire burns today of blasphemy and genocide / The sirens of decay will infiltrate Ellie.” As he said her name, she suddenly dropped to the stage the way someone overcome by the Holy Spirit at a revival meeting would.

Half of the set list consisted of songs from Green Day’s past two albums, American Idiot (2004) and 21st Century Breakdown (2009). The other half included old-school Green Day songs such as the aforementioned “Longview,” “Welcome to Paradise,” “Basket Case,” “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” “Brain Stew” and “Minority.” They also covered the Isley Brothers’ “Shout.”

By the time Green Day left the stage and the lights came on, the audience was spent (at least I was), even if Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool seemed willing and able to play all night.

In retrospect, I want to retract my original statement about Green Day not leaving the audience wanting more. Just like good sex, no matter how much satisfaction you get from a Green Day concert on a given night, you’d definitely come back the next night and do it all over again if you had the opportunity.

(Photos by Getty Images)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:49 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Concert reviews


I was there too. Great show, although I gotta wonder if the two guys pulled outta the audience weren't singing to track because their vocals were a little too spot on.
Double bonus seeing the Kaiser Chiefs open up. Band that's been on my bucket list since their 1st record.

Great show! They really performed and glad they didn't phone it in like so many bands seem to be doing these days.

I've seen the shows in Albany and both Madison Square Garden shows and I'll be seeing them in San Antonio, too. Nope... no backing tracks my friend. I tell you this from experience. The 2nd MSG show was like heaven on earth. Best concert ever. And the massive pranking that took place in Albany... I'll never forget that. Thank you, Green Day, and see you again in San Antonio!

Definitely addicting...can't get enough..this was my 3rd (and sadly last)show in a week and they just keep getting better!!!! I do however miss the old days and smaller shows..but they really make you forget your in a huge arena. Thank you guys for playing your heart out every single night! And thanks for Christie Road too;)Hopefully see you in 2010!!

On wednsday I saw my first rock concert, and I'm soo happy that Greedn Day was first! At the end of this article you said "Just like good sex, no matter how much satisfaction you get from a Green Day concert on a given night, you’d definitely come back the next night and do it all over again if you had the opportunity." and I will defintly be coming back for more!

I'm the guy in the red shirt who got up to sing. The other, Rory, and I weren't singing to track. But thanks for the compliment about being 'spot on'.

I was in pit during the concert near the stage and I say that Green Day did leave me, in opinion wanting more. That was my first Green Day concert ever!

I was there and it was the coolest thing ever!

$49.50 isn't bad for a Green Day concert ticket. If my I remember right their concert here in Finland cost about double that, and in euros.. And thank you for the great photos!

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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