Northern-Cali punk icons Green Day rocked London’s Hyde Park for British Summer Time – complete with political digs, pyro-show and the feeling that punk music is just what we need in a world like this.
Every year, British Summer Time offers two weekends packed with one day festivals, themed perfectly to fit the headliner. So when SWMRS, Rancid, The Hives, Beach Slang and more were announced to join the line-up for Green Day’s takeover I can’t deny that a little squeal left my mouth. You couldn’t have picked a more perfect range of punk bands to support the three boys from California.
The 65,000-strong audience brought their sing-along A-game and old-school London punks added to the atmosphere alongside bands like The Damned and Rancid. Just before Green Day take the stage Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody blasts through the speaker and it doesn’t take more than two words of the first verse for everyone to join in. And by everyone, I mean EVERYONE. Every single soul at Hyde Park was tangled up in that moment and from the bottom of their hearts sang rock’s most epic song.
Green Day’s set spanned all of their 30 years as a band from Welcome To Paradise and Longview, not forgetting classics like Basket Case and When I Come Around, to recent hits like Revolution Radio and Holiday. The two-and-a-half hour set left little to be desired with Billie Joe Armstrong’s strong showmanship skills (not many can lie on stage for such a long time and get the crowd to sing random British hits like Hey Jude) and the band’s never ending energy.
During Boulevard Of Broken Dreams Billie took a seat on the edge of the stage as the audience took on the task of lead singer. And as if a stunning show and incredible set list isn’t gift enough, various starstruck fans are invited on stage to sing or play guitar with Armstrong (and impressively so!). The young girl who played the riffs during the band’s performance of the 1994 track Longview even got to keep her guitar.
It wouldn’t be a Green Day gig without political digs at the current president of the USA, yes we’re talking about Trump. It’s no secret how the band feel about his politics and it is sure met with a loud cheer from the crowd and little-needed encouragement as Billie Joe Armstrong calls for them to chant “No racism, no sexism, no homophobia, and no Donald Trump!” Further on he mentions that shows like these bring people together from many different backgrounds for such an amazing show after everything that has recently happened in the British capital.
The encore is split into two parts – two epic parts. First up: the long-awaited American Idiot rock-out session and the ultimate “last song” opus with Jesus Of Suburbia. And as if the punk gods hadn’t blessed London enough that evening, Armstrong follow’s up the explosive show with a three-track acoustic set comprised of Ordinary World, 21 Guns and legendary good-times-are-had tune Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life). So when he sings “It’s something unpredictable but in the end it’s right, I hope you had the time of your life.” the goosebumps are a-plenty, the tears are falling and the hearts are full.
Green Day deliver a show so monumental it won’t soon be forgotten. But on top of that, it has reminded a crowd of loving fans just why they adore Billie, Tre and Mike so much: The nostalgic adolescent feel and the togetherness and accepting only punk can deliver.