Green Day brought fire and fireworks to Petersen Events Center in Oakland on March 25 in what should be one of the best tours to come through Pittsburgh this year.
The band played a nearly two and a half hour set to a sold out crowd. Throughout their playing, Green Day gave fans both expected and unexpected moments. Hits “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Longview” and others were sprinkled throughout the Bay Area band’s performance. On a few occasions, things got political, with guitarist and vocalist Billy Joe Armstrong, clad in a black vest and polka dot button up, telling off President Trump during “American Idiot,” but in a much more expletive-filled way.
What was surprising was Green Day bringing not one or two, but three fans on stage at different points in their set to sing along. In the last case, a young girl was brought up to play guitar and got to take home the instrument after she played with the band. Not a bad way to celebrate her 16th birthday.
They also pulled out covers of Operation Ivy’s “Knowledge,” and did a medley later in the show starting with the Isley Brother’s “Shout” before transitioning into the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” then into the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”
The music and execution was spot on, which seems to be a byproduct of being a band for 30 years. Armstrong noted before “2,000 Light Years Away” that their first show in Pennsylvania was in a Harrisburg basement to six people in 1990.
But the entertainment aspects of their set are what might make in one that sticks out in fans’ memories. Green Day incorporated flames that shot up from behind drummer Tre Cool. Fireworks and different pyrotechnic elements were implemented, but used strategically throughout the show to make it seem like a July 4th display rather than things blowing up randomly and looking pretty. Armstrong also used a T-shirt cannon to fire shirts into the crowd, as well as a spotlight to shine onto showgoers when the lights were dimmed.
The show was a clinic in set pacing and performance. Like a well-designed roller coaster or masterfully crafted film, there were ebbs and flows. The veteran performers in Green Day didn’t play all their most popular songs consecutively and sped things up and slowed them down with song selection. The night ended on a quiet note with acoustic versions of “Ordinary World” and “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” with confetti being shot out and rained down on fans after the latter.
Zach Brendza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1288 or firstname.lastname@example.org.