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Green Day live in Manchester: Punk’s very own Eras tour is an absolute triumph

On the first UK night of a tour that sees them perform Dookie and American Idiot in full, Green Day deliver a show for the ages.

5.0 rating

By Nick Reilly

Billie Joe Armstrong of the band Green Day performs at an earlier date on the Saviours tour (Photo by Gina Wetzler/Getty Images)

“Tonight is about joy. Tonight is a CELEBRATIOOON,” comes the rousing call to arms from Green Day‘s Billie Joe Armstrong to 50,000 fans packed inside Manchester’s Old Trafford cricket ground.

In 2024, celebrations and, by extension, nostalgia, are big business. Some 200 miles away from here tonight, the most famous singer on the planet has rolled into the capital with the biggest tour in music history – which sees her trawling through her own back catalogue across three era-spanning hours.

But if you’re looking for punk’s ultimate Eras tour, this celebration of Dookie and American Idiot to mark their 30th and 20th anniversaries respectively, may well be it.

It begins with ‘The American Dream Is Killing Me’ from Green Day’s latest album Saviours, before the time for Dookie quickly arrives. At the back of the stage, it’s heralded by the arrival of a giant inflatable cloud that mirrors the album artwork, before ‘Burnout’ heralds the start of Dookie played in its chronological entirety.

Even a brief incident in the crowd, which briefly stops the gig at one early juncture, can’t derail proceedings. “Err, wanna hear some jokes?!,” grins Billie Joe Armstrong as he waits for things to restart. When they do, it’s a tour-de-force reminder of how the 1994 album revitalised punk for a new generation – even though the explosion-heavy, face melting pyrotechnics serve as a telling reminder of just how far they’ve come.

There’s also the constant feeling that this is the most fun Green Day have had performing in years. Armstrong’s grin seems fixed across two hours, while Dookie concludes with ‘All By Myself’ – a bizarre secret track about jacking off which sees drummer Tre Cool skipping by himself onstage like a deranged vaudeville performer in a smoking jacket.

When American Idiot subsequently arrives, so too does the biggest crowd reactions of the night. It’s perhaps inevitable, given the vast amount of twenty-somethings in attendance, but it proves why the 2004 record is easily the greatest thing they’ve ever done. An inflatable manifestation of the hand grenade on the album cover sits at the back of the stage as the band tear through an album that has lost none of its power in the following two decades.

A pyro-heavy ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ sees 50,000 people screaming back every word of the ten minute opus, while the stadium wide call-and-response for ‘Are We The Waiting’ delivers one of those magical moments that only stadium rock shows are capable of.

Late on, there’s a neat nod to Manchester too as they cover The Buzzcocks’ ‘Ever Fallen In Love’, and the palpable sense that Armstrong and co have tonight achieved that exact, reciprocal thing with this city. “This is a night I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Armstrong screams late on.

For the 50,000 fans in attendance, you sense that the feeling is very much mutual. Punk’s ultimate celebration well and truly delivered.