Green Day hits the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia
When I walked into the Liacouras Center in Philly the other night, I did so with apathy. I like the band Green Day but I’ve never really been motivated to go see one of their shows. So when my friends there contacted me about reviewing the show, I responded thinking, “why not?”
I arrived at the venue just as the opener, a band from L.A. called “Best Coast” was taking the stage. This four piece ensemble seemed to fit with the headliner quite nicely. A mix of rock with punk overtones, they got the crowd into it from the start and did very well reving them up from my vantage point, only rows from the stage in the first level. My only criticism of the group is that there was no flow or continuity to the set. Great stories and song history were shared but between every tune I found to be a bit much. I’d rather see a few tunes strung together or just a brief title introduction between songs but that’s just me. Overall though, a very good band and definitely one to watch out for in the future.
The twenty minute changeover between bands was smoothed over by some great pre-show tunes that culminated to the entire building (including myself) singing “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Upon this Queen classic’s completion, a rather large beer swilling rabbit stumbled about the stage to the tune of The Ramones “Blitzkreig Bop,” setting the tone for what would be a raucous evening of music and a great stage and light show.
Green Day took to the stage at approximately 8:05 pm EST. and from the opening notes of “99 Revolutions” one could tell that this was going to be a rockin’ night. The band was pumped from the start and seemingly very happy to be back on the road and in Philly. Billy Joe immediately endeared himself to the crowd by asking who was “from Philly” and who was “from Jersey.” Once determined the 50/50 split erupted even louder when he proclaimed both some of the band’s “favorite audiences and places to play.”
During Best Coast’s set, the band made reference to “Santa in the house!” There was a burly man with a long white beard and a Santa hat in the front row against the stage. Halfway through the second song “Know Your Enemy,” Billie Joe took notice as well. Within seconds, Hunterdon County, NJ resident and professional Santa Rick Reilly was on stage and singing the next verse. “I go to all concerts in my Santa Hat,” said Reilly. “I’m a professional Santa and I like the attention (laughs), I usually just hope for a shout out from the band so this was a real treat.” This time Reilly got a bit more than he’d ever imagined, “It was a thrill! I love Green Day but I’d never seen them before this, it was my first time ever so it was awsome! I was just going to jump down from the stage but Billie Joe said, “no, you have to stage dive,” I never did that before, it was great!”
After jamming with Santa, Green Day resumed their intense energy set which included loads of crowd interaction. A commanding presence, Billie Joe and the boys had the crowd in the palm of their hands. Everyone from the young to the 30 something mom with her two pre-teen daughters in front of me were swaying and dancing in the aisles.
The only glitch in this otherwise perfect show, was when during the song ”Holiday,” Billie Joe forgot the words, causing the band to look around at each other with a “now what?” look on their faces. A quick thinking Billie Joe asked for “lights out” as the other members kept playing through. Taking a spot light and panning the crowd, he jokingly attempted to hypnotize us into “never repeating that Billie Joe forgot the words to “Holiday.”
Lighthearted was definitely the theme to the evening as the band would play what I call “Teasers” prior to their own song. Teasers such as the beginning of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” which led into the beginning and first verse of AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell,” only to lead into their own classic “Brain Stew.” There was also a cover tune medley featuring bits and pieces of classic rock songs such as “Satisfaction,” Shout” and ”Hey Jude” among several others that was done in funny hats and oversized glasses which also featured Billie Joe and drummer Tre LeParc trading instruments and places as well as an amazing sax solo and yet another audience member joining them on stage; which appeared to be a young girl around the age of eight. There was also two more lucky fans brought on stage to sing, high pressure water hoses, a toilet paper shooter and a tee-shirt shooter that thrilled the now frenzied crowd.
The 21 song set ended with “Minority” which gave way to a three song encore of “American Idiot,” ”Jesus Of Suburbia,” and “Brutal Love.” Upon completion, most of the physically drained began to exit the arena, I hung in on a gut feeling and it paid off. I watched the Green Day faithful scurry back to their seats as mega hit “Good Riddance” was the icing on the cake.
Overall, given the band’s recent troubles, it was a great show; well worth the price of admission. Remember that apathy that I spoke of? That’s been cured and count me in as a new fan and just like Santa, I Ho, Ho, Hope to see many more Green Day Shows!