Green Day - Manchester MEN Arena - 28.1.05

With a hand clenching a heart-shaped grenade on a red and black backdrop it looks more like an extremist political rally than a concert. Then bizarrely "YMCA" blasts out of the speakers. The punks look at each other unsure of how to react, like the moment in the film "Whatever Happened To Harold Smith?" where the main character leads a room full of old school punks into the Bee Gee's "Staying Alive", the arena erupts with 17000 people dancing to YMCA. If that sight couldn't get anymore surreal a drunken rabbit then appears stumbling from one side of the stage to the other.

"Don't wanna be an American idiot. Don't want a nation under the new media" are those immortal opening lines as the band launch into the song that resuscitated their career. The Green Day we're seeing today is far removed from the tired old punks we saw at the Carling Weekend last summer. Billie Joe seems to have a renewed energy (Bad Jokes Ed: Perhaps it's the fact he's not balancing a career in Busted as well as Green Day anymore) that passes over onto the audience throughout tonight's show.

The five part "Jesus Of Suburbia" is something we couldn't have imagined Green Day releasing 12th months ago, but here in it's live glory it's a revelation. Within the space of nine minutes they've managed to cram in The Beatles, Beach Boys and Elton John into this epic five-part musical melange. The new single "Holiday" is refreshingly old school style Green Day and strips it back to the punk prototype they're known for. "Are We The Waiting" on record sounds like a football song in the making, live it realizes this as Billie Joe steps out onto the runway and launches a sing along.

At times the newer material is so good it even overshadows old favourites "Basket Case", "Minority", "Longview" and "Good Riddance". Not even covers of "We Are The Champions" and "Shout" can distract from the fact that the band are on the best form they've been since they released "Dookie".

It's hard to imagine where Green Day will go next after this tour. After all you can't imagine them returning to the dumb punk rock tunes of old. It would be interesting to see if they can release "American Idiot 2" - a concept album which digs further than the first, explores a wider palate of influences and does for punk rock what Michael Moore did for investigative journalism

Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride

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