Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt
Photo credit: FotoBob
When Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt stopped by Fender headquarters on Monday afternoon to test out some new Fender bass amps, he told us that each night onstage is like “trial by fire.”
“We want it to be an event,” offered the Fender and Squier signature artist. “You’ve got to stir it up, shake the tree. So it’s all improv — everything. Billie will look at Tre and I’ll hear a snare hit and have to know what song to go to. It literally happens in that fast of time.”
Green Day certainly kept it interesting a few hours later with a three-hour long set at Cricket Pavilion that was punctuated by fireworks, shooting bursts of flames and sparklers that sprinkled from the sky like falling rain.
The veteran rock trio powered through their extensive catalog, opening the epic set with “Song of the Century” and “21st Century Breakdown” and then dipping all the way back to 1994’s breakthrough album Dookie for “Burnout,” “When I Come Around,” “She,” “Basket Case” and “Longview.”
There was no shortage of volunteers – young and old alike — when singer Billie Joe Armstrong asked for someone who knew “every f—ing word, every last one” to “Longview.”
A young woman nailed a few of its verses before Armstrong handed off his mic and Squier Telecaster to Graham Guldstrand. At first, the teenager tentatively strummed at the electric guitar but after a whispered convo with Armstrong, he let loose and began belting out the lyrics, jamming back-to-back with Dirnt, running madly around the stage and then finally jumping from the drum riser.
Guldstrand then returned to the mic and breathlessly asked for some water.
“You are outta shape,” quipped Armstrong before adding that while he didn’t have any water to give him, “you can take that guitar.”
(Here’s Graham Guldstrand with his new guitar and Fender artist relations manager Billy Siegle. Photo also taken by FotoBob)
The guys slowed down now and then, but only to douse the audience with water hoses and toilet paper; Armstrong also paused to twice moon the crowd and once to hump the ground during a cover of “Shout,” which was instrumentally highlighted by an Elvis-dressed saxophonist.
Just past the midway point, the Berkley-based band showcased their musicianship with a medley of classic rock covers including “Highway to Hell” and “Sweet Child O Mine.” Armstrong broke into laughter as he hit the high notes on the latter, much to the amusement of Dirnt.
After informing the audience that they were recording the show for a live album, Green Day treated the avid crowd to new power-punk song, “Cigarettes and Valentines.”
For the eventual encore, Green Day played five songs, starting with “American Idiot” and then finishing with acoustic renditions of “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).”
Green Day’s marathon performance definitely delivered a rock show that their Arizona fans will forever remember.
Watch some of the highlights from the show, including new song “Cigarettes and Valentine,” as well as Graham Guldstrand’s turn onstage (about the five-and-a-half minute mark).