Green Day gives Rose Bowl a stadium-sized portion of passion

Green Day at the Rose Bowl (Photo by Jessica Hanley)
Green Day at the Rose Bowl (Photo by Jessica Hanley)

“We’re playing the Rose Bowl,” Billie Joe Armstrong told a stadium full of passionate Green Day fans on Saturday night. “Can you believe this shit?”

Thirty years since their formation and 23 since they unleashed “Dookie” on the world, they had to, because it was true. The veteran punk rockers were greeted with roar after roar after roar during their 2 1/2-hour set at the Rose Bowl, which began in typical Green Day fashion: “Bohemian Rhapsody” came on the P.A., followed by “Blitzkrieg Bop” and a dancing bunny, and finally “The Good, Bad and the Ugly.” Then the headliners hit the stage, launching into “Know Your Enemy,” “Bang Bang” and “Revolution Radio.”

Armstrong beckoned a fan onstage during the first song to sing with him (and then to leap into the crowd), and throughout the show had more fans onstage, giving a woman named Monica a guitar lesson. He showed her how to play the D and G chords, then gave her the guitar, saying “You can keep that guitar, just practice.”

The frontman stalked the stage as if conducting the massive crowd at the Rose Bowl, motioning to either side to scream when he raised his hands. “We are ending it here in L.A., baby, cause we always save the best for last,” he told the crowd.

During “King for the Day,” the band came out in costumes, with Armstrong dressed up as a cop and Tre Cool in a pink tutu. Then they did a little medley of songs: “Careless Whisper,” “Shout,” “Look on the Bright Side of Life,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Hey Jude.” During “Bright Side,” Armstrong proselytized on the political climate: “I’m so sick of politicians just fucking everything up. America is a celebration of diversity and people coming together. We’ve been through enough together, we got to do something positive together. Son of a bitch, America is this, it’s people coming together, singing and dancing and having some passion together. Nights like tonight we can come together and get fucked up together, you know what I am saying? Because this is it, this is what gives me hope. I need you, we need each other. Stick up for the underdog, please. The people that don’t have fucking health care, the people that other people are trying to kick out of this country are more American than the motherfuckers sitting in Washington D.C. right now.”

He then paused and added, “I travel a lot more than Donald Trump does and I know what America is. I want love, and I want it now, ladies and gentlemen.”

After the speech he then went into “Satisfaction” and “Hey Jude” and then back to “Shout” and got the whole crowd to jump — during which you could feel the whole stadium moving from the vibration of people jumping. Before “Still Breathing,” Armstrong said, “This one is for all the survivors,” got a bit choked up for a second.

Welsh rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen opened the night with a quick- but hard-hitting set that featured frontman Van McCann running around stage nonstop. During their song “Soundcheck,” the Green Day confetti cannon was accidentally set off, which had the band laughing. Their 30-minute set was only five songs long, ending with “Tyrants.”

Setlist: Know Your Enemy, Bang Bang, Revolution Radio, Holiday, Letterbomb, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Longview, Youngblood, 2000 Light Years Away, Armitage Shanks, Hitchin’ A Ride, When I Come Around, Welcome to Paradise, Minority, Are We the Waiting, St. Jimmy, Knowledge (Operation Ivy cover), Basket Case, She, King For a Day, Medley of Songs (Shout, Careless Whisper, Satisfaction, Hey Jude), Still Breathing, Forever Now. Encore 1: American Idiot, Jesus of Suburbia. Encore 2: Wake Me Up When September Ends, Good Riddance

Photos and recap by Jessica Hanley