First Impressions: Green Day – The Prodigal King Of Punk Pop Makes His Reading Return

You’ve gotta hand it to Green Day, they really know how to put on a show. Like the Foo Fighters, Reading has become something of a second home for Billie Joe and co over the years. Not content with an intimate surprise set at last year’s bash, Green Day’s frontman was determined to return to their rightful home in some style despite crawling through hell and back in rehab after a drug fuelled meltdown in Las Vegas last year.

Tonight, Billie Joe looks healthier and happier than ever as he strides onstage to ’99 Revolutions’ like a cowboy who’s been kicked in the dirt and come back all guns blazing. He loves Reading and takes every chance to hail the crowd at every turn. When he spots the crowd struggling to get in the party mood early on, he reminds them exactly where they are: “This is no fucking party I have to admit,” he spits. “Come on, this ain’t just any festival, this is the greatest festival in the world,” as he gives way to a stomping rendition of ‘Stay The Night’.

And it’s then you’re reminded just how many great songs they bring with them. They rattle through a volley of hits (‘Holiday’ ‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams’ and ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’) much to the crowd’s delight. Then comes every Green Day fan’s wet dream – ‘Dookie’ played from start to finish.

When Muse pulled a similar trick two years ago with ‘Origins Of Symmetry’, it felt like a strung-out exercise in self indulgence, only salvaged by an anthem packed second half of greatest hits. But Green Day somehow seem to pull it off. ‘Basket Case’ and ‘When I Come Around’ go down a treat especially when Billie Joe pulls out his box of toys. Like an excitable child, he draws out toy pistols, showering the crowd first with water before cheekily wrapping the nearest cameraman from head to toe in toilet roll. Finally he pulls out a huge smoking space rifle which pings white T-shirts into the cheering throng down the front. What more could any Green Day fan want? Oh yeah, more hits, and they bring them.

Into the set’s final straight, they complete their triumph with ‘American Idiot’ which sounds as vital as ever, ‘Jesus Of Surburbia’, which goes on forever but sounds outstanding and a stripped down solo performance of ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’ which tells you exactly where Billie Joe’s mindset is right now. The king of punk pop is back, and it’s good to see him on his throne again.