I had a feeling that those posts I did a couple of weeks ago about the best concerts I'd ever seen were unfinished. This past weekend, OhCountess and I embarked on the "Weekend of Rock Tour". No complaints, it was well worth it, going back to work sucks.
On Saturday, July 11th, 2009 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, we witnessed what could only be described as the best non-Pink Floyd rock concert I have ever seen. Big words from me.
This concert capped off an amazing weekend of music for my wife and me. As I posted earlier, the Basilica Block party started it off. I realized I was hanging out in the Twin Cities area for the weekend, so I tried to contact Terri of TerriTerri fame. I'm always up for the idea of a blogger meet up but nope, her daughter was playing in a softball tournament. This did spawn an idea, though. With a little planning, anyone interested in meeting at the Block Party next year? Kind of a Midwest blogger gathering??? Just an idea...back to Green Day!
Green Day is a band that's hard to pigeon hole. They're mostly punk, with a bit of pop and a lot of rock. Billie Joe Armstrong, lead singer and lead guitarist, is very much into liberal politics and ain't afraid to share that with you. They can be loud, raucous and everything I think of in a rebellious rock band.
The concert began with the band playing their latest album, 21st Century Breakdown, in order. This is pretty much as you'd expect. It's a rock opera after all. The order of the songs has a lot to do with the meaning of the songs. It's the story of a young couple trying to navigate this crazy world we live in.
I should apologize for the quality of the pictures. I had heard cameras weren't really welcome here. No way I'm sneaking my good camera in without drawing attention to some bulging body part. We shot all of these with either our iPhone cameras or my wife's point and shoot. Strangely, I really think that capture the event well.
At one point, he running around the corners of the stage, sounding like an Evangelist. Singing praises. He stops over on the left side of the stage and asks if there is a child that can be saved. Um, Ya think there's anyone that wants to go on stage? One dad volunteers his 12(? could have been 13) year old to go on stage. I don't remember the exact words but it was something like "You're gonna let you 12 year old on stage with a punk band?" Billie Joe starts talking to the kid up close, whisper style and the kid just starts swaying with his hands in the air.
He had a little chat with the kid and then they broke into East Jesus Nowhere. The kids just standing there swaying side to side with his arms in the air...all of us following in step. During the song, there is a big "saving" moment. The beat changes and BOOM! He places his hands on the kids head, he falls backwards "saved style" and LOUD explosions from pyrotechnics fill our ears and eyes. The kid gets a hug from Billie Joe and goes back to his dad. Of course the crowd loves it.
Dad Stuff over at Stuff In My Brain was apparently at this same concert, sitting a few rows behind us. Yikes, had we known. He noticed the same thing I did. What a cross section of people were here. Next to us was a mom with her 7 and half year old. He was wearing ear plugs. Behind me was a lady in her late 50's or early 60's - rockin' and looking like she was having a great time.
Through out the show, he was making constant references to Minnesota. His wife is a native of Mankato. As the story goes, in the early years, the tours used to come through here all the time. You know, so he could hook up with her. Boys.
I don't know how punk rock concerts work in other parts of the world, but here in Minnesota, Prince is in a protected class. Sure, he's arrogant, a bit over the top and his music is funk not punk, but he's deep down well known as a hardcore Minnesotan...We'll sing a Prince song with anyone. It's what we do. Normally, I hate covers, but Green Day made that song theirs and it rocked.
This was followed up the band playing Shout! from the Animal House soundtrack. I know, a Green Day concert. Sure, it was a punk/rock version, but it was fun. During the "lay on the floor" portion of the song, they did a montage of other classic songs. Gawd this was fun and the crowd was just eating it up. Looks like we got a picture of Billie Joe singing on the floor (above).
The picture on the left, just above here is how I'll remember this. He's standing on the monitor, being the rock god he's becoming.
The band left the stage and the arena went dark. You knew it wasn't over, there were so many good songs to go.
This picture on the right is Billie Joe returning for a little acoustic set. He started by playing a song I don't think I've heard..."My Minnesota Girl" a song about his wife. Very cool...and this would be the crowd to appreciate it. This was followed by Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) off of Nimrod. Yeah! I was hoping for this!
Something you don't see at most rock concerts is a crowd that is fully engaged. Sure, they go nuts for their favorite songs, but at no point did the crowd ever disengage. Billie Joe ran off stage for what I thought was a guitar change, but returned with an enormous Super Soaker and proceeds to spray it at the crowd. Cool, nothing new if you ever been to a festival in August, but he pulled another 13 year old out of the crowd and gave him the gun. In the mean time, he's run off stage again and returned with the leaf blower/toilet paper spewer. Yeah, shlocky, but very fun. Those new rolls don't last long so off he goes again and grabs a different gun. This time he screams..."Who wants a t-shirt?" Yep, one of those t-shirt guns. So much fun.
All the while, the band just sounded great. The band played the opening of Boulevard of Broken Dreams, one of their more popular singles. Billie Joe steps to the mic and out of his mouth, he started on the WRONG verse! Apparently, he's got a sense of humor because he just laughed and turned around. The band kept playing and when the time to start singing came around again he steps to the mic and realized something, the crowd was singing it for him. Word for word. He just let it go. No one complained and we got the entire first verse out + chorus before he stepped back in. I have to think, it must be pretty cool to be on stage and hear a stadium full of people singing a song you wrote.
I've always wondered how bands like Green Day play the first hits for so many years and not just get completely sick of them. Dookie had so many remarkable songs on it, but they've been playing them for 15 years. This band didn't skip them. They just let the crowd do the work. During Longview (still one of my favorite songs), for each verse, a different member of the audience did the singing. There's three verses so three lucky fans got their shot. The first girl was pretty good, the second, well, she kinda sucked, and last, this guy gets up and rocked the house. At the end, after singing the best lyric in rock history ("when masterb***'s lost it's fun, you know your f'n lazy"), Billie gets on a mic cheering him on and says, "For that, you HAVE to stage dive!" Every fans dream. Lucky bastard.
The show wraps up. The band had played for two and half hours. One of the longest concerts I've ever been to and every minute of it was just fantastic.
OhCountess, who tends to lean to the pop song side of the music dial, looks over at me and said, "that's the best concert I've ever seen." Better then Rob Thomas? Yep. (I would have been looking for early exits from that...just sayin').
The house lights came up. We were in Section 104, row M seats 13 and 14. Dead center of our row. No rush, we stayed in the hotel across the street so we were really in no hurry. We took a few pictures and said good bye to our neighbors. Our throats were sore and our ears were ringing, but in the end it was all worth it.
This was, without a doubt, the very best rock concert I've ever seen that didn't have Pink Floyd on the ticket. It was very, very close to that good too. You may or may not realize just what that means coming from me...but it's huge.
After the show...cocktails with my bride cause there was no way we just gonna fall asleep after that.