The first time and only time I saw Green Day live was in 1991
during their first European tour in front of 20 people at AJZ Stinkdrüse.
The band was on Lookout Records at the time, which is what
enticed me to visit, had released a charming yet mediocre in the vein of
Californian pop-punk album and there was neither a major label nor mainstream
success looming on the horizon.
Fast forward 27 years and mentioning that I am going to see
their musical American Idiot is a conversation topic with my mother, as she is
familiar with their album from 2004 and the fact that it was adapted for the
stage as a musical on Broadway.
Thematically American Idiocy is a timeless topic that can easily
be transition from the Bush era, where it originated, to the status quo with
Trump at the helm of operations in the new world.
Emphasis is heavily on the music with the conceptual storyline
not really delving much deeper than being situational, illustrating and acting
out the tropes of the songs, i.e. disenchantment, dissatisfaction with the
state of affairs, the entrapments of the establishment, addictions and the
downward spiral that comes with it.
This does not mean that the musical is not an engaging and
enjoyable affair, which is mainly to the excellent cast’s choreography and
vocal and dance performances, backed by a tight live band.
A loud and powerful affair that gets the audience out of their
chairs and does not pretend to be more than it sets out to be – light on plot
and more of a tour de force that does not reinvent the wheel but celebrates the
energy of rock’n roll, the rest- and aimlessness of the generation in question
and the foils and spoils that come with the territory.
Adding credibility and extra flavour is the fact that one
constituent, i.e. the drug dealer St. Jimmy, has become a placeholder role for
which local scene relevant musicians are invited to perform.
Past incarnations have seen Billie Joe Armstrong himself as well
as Melissa Etheridge and Davey Havok of AFI fame play the role.
Tonight saw Grinspoon’s Phil Jamieson fill the role much to the
delight of the enthused audience, which frenetically welcomed each scene he had
a part in.
American Idiot is pretty thin when it comes to a coherent
narrative but delivers in spades when it comes to providing a snapshot of
disillusionment and is an immensely satisfying and fun affair if you are into
Green Day’s 21 Century Breakdown and the album that gave the musical its name.