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Green Day Tampa Tour Review From Band Photographer (Me!)

August 19, 2009
Lynne Taking Pics At Green Day Concert In Tampa

Me, in the photographer's pit, in total disbelief, trying not to freak out. (Courtesy of Radko Keleman.)

As I stood in the pit line outside the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa with the blistering Florida sun searing my Stop, Drop and Roll t-shirt, I wondered if I was making a big mistake coming to see Green Day at what I was certain would be an impersonal arena show.

No, I’m not one of the lucky old school Green Day fans who saw them at Gilman Street, or even on their first major-label national tour with Dookie. “Good Riddance” didn’t play at my high school graduation, and I had no desire to be the “Minority” until I watched the live feed of Green Day at Live 8 in Berlin in July of 2005.

Green Day’s performance that day dropped my jaw and sent me scrambling through the Internet archives for more video. I bought every album available in the US and special ordered every import I could get my hands on. I’d already missed the American Idiot tour stops within driving distance, but despite not having seen them live, I developed LOGDF, Late Onset Green Day Fanaticism.

Lynne at Foxboro Hot Tubs concert in New Orleans

One of the official pictures from the Foxoboro Hot Tubs concert in New Orleans. I’m the girl with blue bangs in the powder blue Dollyrots t-shirt.

That fanaticism brought The Foxboro Hot Tubs, Green Day’s pimped-out 60’s garage-rock alter-ego, onto my radar. When they played One Eyed Jack’s in New Orleans in 2008, I drove ten hours, stood in line for ten more hours, and ended up front and center at a 500-person show that spoiled me forever for arena concerts–or so I thought.

A year later in the heat outside the St. Pete Times Forum, my stomach rolled with the smell of the Slim Jims, Pringles, and grape Gatoraid of the guys in front of me. How would Green Day, playing to a stadium of over 8,500 fans, ever be able to create the same kind of personal connection I’d felt with The Foxboro Hot Tubs?

When security finally released the pit line into the stadium, I found a spot in the corner where the catwalk joined the stage, right behind my new friends Ben and Chase (the guys who’d brought the line provisions). As I watched the empty St. Pete Times Forum fill with fellow Green Day fans, excitement moshed over the angst I’d had outside.

The Kaiser Chiefs helped the crowd get in the mood for an interactive, high-energy show. The intense-yet-playful, well-constructed set revved everyone up. Lead singer Ricky Wilson even tightrope walked along the security rail and into the audience to sing a verse. Later he introduced “You Want History” as being a request from two members of Green Day.

Then, in the shadows near the guitar rack, three black-clad figures wearing Mexican wrestling masks appeared. They watched the Kaiser Chiefs perform the entire song before applauding and slinking backstage. (I can’t say for certain the masked fans were Billie Joe, Mike, and Tre, but Tre did wear the same red Mexican wrestling mask when he teepeed the Kaiser Chiefs at their last show in New Orleans.) Seeing the masked fans reminded me that anything can happen at a Green Day concert–even before Green Day takes the stage.

I’d bought the Kaiser Chiefs’ latest album Off With Their Heads in preparation for the concert, and although it hadn’t turned me into an uber-fan, their stage show did, and I found myself hitting iTunes again for their 2007 release Yours Truly, Angry Mob for “Ruby” and 2005’s Employment for “Everyday I Love You Less and Less” and “I Predict A Riot”. Like Green Day, the Kaiser Chiefs adore playing live, and as a result I’ve added them onto my list of bands I’ll see again.

The breakdown time between the Kaiser Chiefs and Green Day was mercifully brief. The crew seemed focused and well-organized, and you had just enough time to pee and hit the merch table before the lights dimmed.

In the darkness, time freezes and it’s all about the moment, all about the present, the now. The static clarity of “Song of the Century” weaves through the arena like a pirate radio station broadcasting just for us.

A spotlight ruptures the darkness and Billie Joe poses on top of the monitor, arms raised like a furious crucified conductor about to lead us all in a debauched mass of fury and forgiveness. Jason Freese pounds the piano intro to “21st Century Breakdown” and the rest of the band takes the stage. Jason White strolls toward the rear of stage right as the new supporting guitarist/backup singer Jeff Matika appears far behind Jason Freese on stage left.

Tre and Mike aren’t nearly as understated. As the intro builds, Tre lurches and lunges along the edge of the stage, mugging for the audience. He climbs behind the drum set to add a relentless kick drum beat as he leers over his cymbals. Mike nods and rocks like a wind-up toy begging for release. Oh yeah, baby…it’s coming…just you wait…, he seems to be saying. It’s almost here…it’s almost–

And then it’s time. A wall of sound and light. Mike bursts into the background vocals as Billie Joe explodes into one of his classic, gravity-defying leaps from the monitor, arriving at the center mic just in time to sing, “Born into Nixon, I was raised in hell…”

And so it begins.

The concert is so etched onto my brain that I could go on like this, song by song, through the whole show. I could tell you about how Billie Joe and Mike keep even the people in the nose-bleed seats on their feet the entire time. I could tell you how in awe I am of Jason White’s low-key, underappreciated virtuosity, how I now realize that it’s his performance keeps the musicianship solid so that Billie Joe can entrance the audience. I could tell you how the songs we love just wouldn’t be the same without Jason Freese to weave piano, sax and accordion layers into them. I could tell you all the little things the band does to try to crack each other up. I could tell you all the ways Green Day reaches out and connects with the audience, from the never-ending barrage of call and response commands to the summoning of people on stage to sing or play. (Just remember that “Jesus of Suburbia” is in the key of C#). I could tell you all the ways an 8,500+ Green Day 21st Century Breakdown arena concert is totally different from an under-500 Foxboro Hot Tubs Stop, Drop and Roll club concert, and all the ways it’s exactly the same.

But I won’t.

“This is our f***ing moment!” Billie Joe screamed at the beginning of the show. “Put the f***ing cameras and cell phones away! This is OUR time!”

I’ve loved sharing some of my amazing night with you, but it shouldn’t matter to you one bit what I thought of the Tampa concert. What’s truly important is what YOUR Green Day experience means to YOU. If you don’t have tickets already, buy them now. Go get your own f***ing Green Day moment.

Tampa Set List With Selected Pics
(With special thanks to Green Day’s Idiot Club whose Band Photographer For A Day contest provided me with this amazing opportunity.)

1)    Song of the Century

2)    21st Century Breakdown

Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-1Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-8

3)    Know Your Enemy

Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-9Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-7

4)    East Jesus Nowhere

5)    Holiday

6)    The Static Age

Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-10Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-3

7)    Before the Lobotomy

Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-4Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-5Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-0

8)    Are We The Waiting

9)    St. Jimmy

Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-13

10) Boulevard of Broken Dreams

Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-12

11) Hitchin’ A Ride

Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-14Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-15

12) Welcome to Paradise

13) Hold On

14) When I Come Around

15) Medley: You Really Got Me, Eruption, Ain’t Talkin’ About Love, Unchained

Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-16

16) Brain Stew

Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-17Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-18

17) Jaded

18) Longview

Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-19Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-20Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-21

19) Basket Case

20) She

21) Medley: King For A Day, Shout, Break on Through, Free Fallin, I’ll Be There

Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-2Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-24Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-22Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-23

22) 21 Guns

Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-6Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-25Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-26

23) American Eulogy

Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-27Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-28Tampa8-3-09JaniceStrand-29

24) See The Light

1st Encore:

25) American Idiot

26) Jesus of Suburbia

27) Minority

Acoustic Encore:

28) Scattered

29) Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 10, 2009 7:21 am

    Lynne, great review and great photos! I’m a bit late, I only now read your wonderful post! (And I’d never seen the photo of Billie Joe’s back in N.O. :D)

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