REVIEW: Green Day’s spirit rally at Oakland Coliseum

Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong

Photos: Alessio Neri

OAKLAND — Compared to its neighbor across the Bay, Oakland still gets a bad rep and not too many breaks. San Francisco is getting its basketball team, Las Vegas its football team, and many of its accomplishments are buried under the problems. Still, Oakland, and the East Bay, will always have Green Day.

“Oh my God! We’re home; this is family!” frontman Billie Joe Armstrong screamed early in Green Day’s set at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Saturday. “Every song is about home, about the Bay Area, all my friends from West Contra Costa County.”

The show was billed as the big homecoming on Green Day’s Revolution Radio Tour, in support of the band’s 12th studio album. The band is playing mostly amphitheaters and arenas, but Oakland got a stadium gig. As overheard from a conversation between stage crew members, the stage was to be sent straight to Golden Gate Park for Outside Lands right after the show.

Armstrong, drummer Tre Cool and bassist Mike Dirnt didn’t waste any time engaging the crowd, inviting a blue-haired fan onstage to sing on set opener “Know Your Enemy.” In the band’s fashion, she finished her performance by stage-diving. From there, Green Day transitioned to two new songs, “Bang Bang” and “Revolution Radio.” Both had some pyro, but it didn’t distract from what was going on onstage. Armstrong took on the role of East Bay spokesman on the fourth track, “Holiday.” It was a role on which he’d have a firm grasp through the end of the show.

Ad-libbing the spoken word line to “the representative of Oakland, California has the floor,” he wrapped himself in an American flag, chanting, “No racism. No sexism. No homophobia. No Donald Trump.” He name-checked a few East Bay burgs, including Concord, and then described the East Bay as “a place where we try to step ahead of the world.”

“Show me Oakland understands!” he yelled.

Later in the show, “2000 Light Years Away” was dedicated to 924 Gilman, the punk collective where the band got its start. A medley of “Bump N’ Grind,” “Shout,” “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Hey Jude” included a sax solo of “Careless Whisper” (for former Oakland Athletic Josh Reddick? Who knows). There was also a mention of the Raiders leaving town that drew boos loud enough for owner Mark Davis to hear at home.

“It’s all right,” Armstrong declared. “When they leave, we’re gonna burn this motherfucker down anyway!”

Two fan moments stood out as highlights on this night. During “Longview,” Armstrong invited a fan to sing the third verse. The fan did that and more, displaying some funky dance moves before jumping into the crowd. And an 18-year-old green- and yellow-haired female fan was later invited to play guitar on a cover of “Knowledge” by East Bay punk band Operation Ivy. Armstrong gave her his guitar, tightened the strap. It wasn’t a difficult part, only three chords. But she added entertainment value to the performance, with charisma, enthusiasm and scissor kicks. The two ended the song playing together, and Armstrong was impressed enough to give her the guitar to keep.

The second half of the main set consisted of some classic tracks like “She,” “Minority,” “Basket Case,” “Welcome to Paradise” and “When I Come Around.” A four-song encore consisted of “American Idiot” and “Jesus of Suburbia,” as well as acoustic takes on “21 Guns” and “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).”

U.K. rock band Catfish and the Bottlemen opened the show with a five-song set that included four of their most-popular tracks: “7,” “Soundcheck,” “Cocoon” and “Twice.”

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