Green Day reboots that tour this spring, beginning Thursday night at the Chicago-area Allstate Arena (a show postponed from Jan. 8). If this March 15 comeback showcase during the South by Southwest music conference and festival was any indication of what’
When: 7:30 p.m. March 28
Where: Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Road in Rosemont
Info: (800) 745-3000; ticketmaster.com
Updated: March 27, 2013 4:07PM
AUSTIN, Texas — In the middle of “Stay the Night,” Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong paused at the microphone, stared at the crowd for a moment and sighed, “Ah, welcome back!”
A turnabout of words. No doubt he was happy to see us — a crowd not even close to capacity at the Austin City Limits Live theater, but certainly a welcoming one. This was Green Day’s return to action after Armstrong’s profane meltdown last September at a festival in Las Vegas, complete with tantrum and smashed guitar. Days later, the band announced Armstrong was seeking treatment for substance abuse and a slate of arena dates was postponed.
The band reboots that tour this spring, beginning Thursday night at the Chicago-area Allstate Arena (a show postponed from Jan. 8).
If this March 15 comeback showcase during the South by Southwest music conference and festival was any indication of what’s to come on the remaining dates, Armstrong couldn’t have looked more refreshed, reinvigorated and grateful.
After the welcoming comment, he let the crowd sing for moment while he sat on the edge of the drum riser, first gazing back at us with some measure of incredulity, then sitting for a spell with his head in his hands.
There’s a lot of that in a Green Day show nowadays — the poor band vamping, sometimes for quite a long time, while Armstrong wrangles the crowd. He’s a professional motivator, certainly, and obsessed with airborne limbs (“Get your hands up! This ain’t no cafe, motherf------!”). Thankfully, the band — Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, drummer Tré Cool and their criminally unsung “fourth member,” guitarist Jason White — was plenty exciting without the constant demands for shouts, singalongs and waving arms.
In 24 songs over two hours, Green Day ripped through its catalog, reaching back to the early ’90s and slotting in some requisite newbies from this winter’s album trilogy (“¡Uno!,” “¡Dos!” and “¡Tré!”). The hit parade marched along — “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Jesus of Suburbia,” the excellent “Know Your Enemy” — including some songs that now wear an extra patina of irony, given Armstrong’s recent troubles, such as “Burnout” and “Basket Case.”
Only once did Armstrong allude to his recent woes. During “Stop When the Red Lights Flash,” he had directed the band and the audience into a quiet moment and crouched into the microphone to kick off a climactic explosion — but just before he could whisper to a scream, a roadie darted over and replaced the wireless mic right in front of Armstrong’s mouth. The singer barely missed a beat but couldn’t help chuckle a bit. “And I wasn’t even on drugs,” he quipped.