“I gotta say, it probably feels pretty damn good to be Canadian these days.”
With a “F*** Donald Trump” shout during the first encore of American Idiot, Billie Joe Armstrong spread the message of unity at the First Ontario Centre. Throughout the almost 2 and a half hour performance, Armstrong asked, ‘How many old Green Day fans are here tonight?’ With a similar follow up question of ‘but how many really old ones?’ And just like that, off the Kerplunk album, 2,000 Light Years Away flooded the First Ontario Centre.
‘Are you making a home video? Does this look like home to you?’ Billie Joe called upon fans in the audience on social media. ‘Lets look at each other, face to face.’Ripping through the classics, seemingly inexhaustible, Green Day continued to engage and include the audience. If you have seen Green Day in the last decade or so, the guys will always do a rendition of ‘Shout’ after finishing off King for a Day. However, you were in for an added burst of energy as Billie sung the crowd through ‘Satisfaction’ and ‘Hey Jude’- but not before Tre Cool hopped off his drum kit to step to the mic and say ‘Waaaaaaaait a minute.’ That man can kick really high.
There were many prolific moments in Green Day’s action on stage and their message to Hamilton. During ‘Are We The Waiting’ a Canadian flag with the pride colours was passed upfront from the pit and Billie Joe spared no time in holding it up proudly to the crowd. Unity. A word that came up frequently during their set.
It’s one thing to talk about post show high’s, but it’s another to really observe how the city feels once the big tour buses pull away. The distant noise of ‘aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayoooooooooooooo’ rings in your ears. You step out on to the corner of York boulevard and can see it for yourself. Young fans that may have heard Green Day for the first time with Revolution Radio, the Idiot Nation that found Green Day during American Idiot, then the fans who screamed through the lyrics of Hitchin’ a Ride. But it doesn’t matter. It’s all relative.
Because bands and performances like this birth the next Chuck Berry. Performances like the one in Hamilton inspire a generation to change the landscape of music for the better.
Billie Joe said it himself that the first song he learned on guitar was Johnny B. Goode.
So how many times have you heard people say, ‘Brainstew was the first song I learned on guitar.’
‘Burnout was the first song I learned to play. Basket Case. When I Come Around.’ I’ll stop writing out the Dookie discography.
To finish off, Armstrong left the audience with two solo acoustic performances. As someone who has seen Green Day multiple times, I figured I knew where it was headed. A track from 1997, but it never grows old.
From section 122 row 22 seat 11 I saw it all. Hamilton lit up in an array of lights, sweaty, people clinging to best friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, family as Billie Joe headed solo into ‘Time of Your Life.’