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Politically charged punk rock
that's just as potent as its past

Green Day
United Center
Chicago, IL
July 13, 2009
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Review and photos by Andy Argyrakis

For a punk rock band to last over two decades is a miracle in and of itself, but the fact that Green Day's since graduated from sweaty clubs to sold out arenas is the ultimate anomaly. Though the group was almost counted out as the 1990s came to a close, the latest decade found the fellas scoring an unexpected resurgence, thanks mostly to 2004's politically-tinged American Idiot, which not only resonated with multiple generations of listeners in the States, but also impacted the entire globe.

These days Green Day is back with just as potent of a project via the like-minded 21st Century Breakdown (Reprise). Tracing teens in today's troubled times, the collection is conceptual in nature, this time pointing to economic uncertainly in the shadow of political transition. Although those are heavy sentiments indeed, the ever-evolving trio turned one of this summer's most anticipated tours into the ultimate party, peppering in these message-centered anthems, but playing plenty of hits in between.

After opening with the pair of new cuts "21st Century Breakdown" and "Know Your Enemy," Billie Joe Armstrong and company cranked out a career spanning set that was just as insurgent as it was entertaining. While channeling the teenage awkwardness of "Before the Lobotomy" and the angst of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," towering lighting rigs swirled vibrant colors as giant screens projected members' ferocious playing abilities alongside random footage that mirrored the mayhem (not to mention bursts of intermittent pyro and flames).

Yet even after a decade and a half, the band's breakthrough album Dookie still earned just as raucous of a reception as the current classics in the making. The back to back placement of "Longview" (with verses swapped between two ecstatic audience members) and "Basket Case" conjured up near hysteria, while "She" proved to be a true album treasure for longtime followers. But the current outing was much more than merely a nostalgia trip, highlighting many more tunes from the most recent two albums and reeling in a much younger age group that was barely born during the Dookie days.

"21 Guns" and "American Eulogy" aptly expressed the anxiety of modern times, while the follow-ups "American Idiot" and "Jesus of Suburbia" (featuring a guest guitarist once again plucked from the masses) celebrated a thunderously applauded regime change. After rounding out the encore with the super charged guitar strums and confetti blasts of "Minority," Green Day unplugged for perhaps the most poignant tune from its entire tenure "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)." And after two hours and fifteen minutes of endless enthusiasm and red hot relevance, the sweaty throngs of super fans could very well apply that last line as a summary for the entire evening.

Related articles:

Green Day - Concert review - Madison, WI May 2005
Green Day / Sugarcult - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI Nov. 2004
Green Day - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI Jan. 2001

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