Two Days with Green Day: In Burbank with Carson Daly, at the Fonda with the Fans

Green Day

Last Call With Carson Daly/Henry Fonda Theater

6/3/09, 6/4/09

By Jeff Miller

View more photos in the "With Green Day at 'Last Call with Carson Daly' & Henry Fonda Theater" slideshow.

The day before the biggest punk band in the world (and arguably the biggest band in the world, period) played a triumphant show at the tiny-for-them Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood (capacity: 1,200, give or take a few hundred if the fire marshall looks the other way) they played a mini-set for a much smaller, but nearly equally rabid, group of fans, on stage nine at the NBC lot in Burbank.

Green Day on Last Call with Carson Daly

NBC UniversalGreen Day on Last Call with Carson Daly

The band's just released a much-hyped, fantastic new album, the lush, rock opera-ish "21st Century Breakdown," (the follow-up to their massive, hit-packed "American Idiot") so this stop - on "Last Call With Carson Daly" - could have been just another dull bit of promo for the band, an in-and-out rote run-through of their current hit (the hyper "Know Your Enemy"), and that's that.

Green Day at Universal Studios

NBC UniversalGreen Day at Universal Studios

 Except this is Green Day, and with a band this workmanlike, nothing's that's that. So, the band (original members Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool, and Mike Dirnt, as well as three auxillary players) played not just one song, but a mini set; "Know Your Enemy," sure, but also the ballad-like "21 Guns," and the 50's-sounding "In The Static Age," as while as three other "Breakdown" tracks, to an audience of less than 200 fans so psyched to be there, they were nearly shocked into silence when Armstrong (who, with his shaggy, dyed hair, buttoned-all-the-way up shirt, and cherubic face looks like he's 37 going on 14) leads them in "waaay-oooah" call and response - just like he would, repeatedly, at the Fonda the following night.

And just when they think that's it, the band re-emerges in new clothes, and plays two songs as Foxboro Hot Tubs - a just-for-fun side-project that most fans assumed was defunct following a small club tour last year.


Timothy Norris***

It's the first in a series of surprises that culminates in the second set of their Fonda show, where the band takes requests from the audience, and then plows through non-hit after non-hit from their before-they-were-rock-stars albums "Kerplunk" and "1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours", with Armstrong having to teach the rest of the band "Brat" (from 1995's "Insomniac") when it's requested, since it's been so long since they've played it.

Green Day at the Fonda

Timothy NorrisGreen Day at the Fonda

What's amazing is that this band, who's gotten so much press for maturing along with their visibility, were arguably that same reliable trio all along: take the lovelorn, melodic circa-'92 singalong "Going to Pasalacqua" and say that one of Armstrong's living-in-the-heartland characters is the narrator, slap it on "21st Century Breakdown," and you've got even one more hit single.

Green Day at the Fonda

Timothy NorrisGreen Day at the Fonda

That's not repetition, that's consistency, in the same way U2 (a band with which the relatively newly politically-conscious Green Day shares more than one trait) can be counted on for reach-for-the-rafters choruses and clangily echoing guitars; the same way Bruce Springsteen will always mention the backstreets at least once per album; the same way you can hear Pete Townshend windmill on each Who song just to prove he can.

Awesome shot, Norris.

Timothy Norris!Awesome shot, Norris.

With the songs on "21st Century Breakdown" and these shows - celebrations that found the band inviting fans to sing classics on stage, welcomed them to shout along from the audience, and even let them mess with the setlist - it's clear that Green Day belong, squarely, in the pantheon that houses those classic artists. And that's that.

Note: Green Day's performances on Last Call will be broadcast all next week.