The world’s premier punk rock band energized Ricardo Saprissa Stadium
As counter-culture as they are commercial, as menacing as they are melancholy, the premier punk rock band of the last two decades, Green Day, blitzed the near-capacity crowd at Ricardo Saprissa Stadium Friday night with a feverish, turbulent three-and-a-half hour show that strummed its way into the wee minutes of early Saturday morning. (Click here to see the 43-song set list).
The show, which wound its way through the anthology of Green Day’s 23 years of punk hits, encapsulated what has kept Green Day atop a genre that has seen many others come and go during the ’90s and ’00s. Amid explosions, fireworks, water hoses on stage and several theatrical, crowd-involving diversions from the music, the group´s effervescent energy, embodied by front man Billie Joe Armstrong, remains just as highly charged as it was 16 years ago, when Green Day first found commercial success with the 1994 album “Dookie.”
And, in the midst of chaotic fun and impish antics, Green Day – as it always has – found its balance riding atop an undulating wave that pleased the audience with cherished, upbeat jams just as much as it chided them with scathing lyrics and contempt for society’s conventions.
“I hate television,” Armstrong said about halfway through the show. “I hate television. I hate the internet. I hate cell phones. I hate cameras. I hate everything that destroys creativity.”
During this rant, thousands of fans holding up cameras – or mobile phones offering simultaneous internet, photo and video applications – dropped their devices to their sides and stood agape at this sudden and antagonistic “shame on you” from the man in charge of the night’s party.
But, true to the spirit of good punk rock, which is now entering its fourth decade of unbridled success, Armstrong quickly roped the crowd back in.
“I hate parties too,” he said. “But tonight is not a party. It’s a celebration. It’s you, it’s me, it’s us here tonight in Costa Rica. And let’s celebrate it! Pura Vida Costa Rica!”
With this, cameras popped back into the air and the crowd was again enraptured by the black-attired, black-haired, black eye liner-wearing Armstrong, who thrust his energy into the faces of his fans for a stirring second half of the show.
After playing mostly new songs from their 2009 release “21st Century Breakdown” during the show´s first half, Green Day returned to its roots for the second half of the concert, singing hit songs from the “Dookie” album such as “Longview” and “Basket Case,” from the 1995 “Insomniac” album such as “Geek Stink Breath,” from the 1997 “Nimrod” album, and several songs from their wildly popular 2004 “American Idiot” album such as the title track “American Idiot,” as well as “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”
The concert at Ricardo Saprissa Stadium in Tibás, just north of San José, was the last show of Green Day’s 2010 World Tour, which began Aug. 3 in Camden, New Jersey. During the month of October, the band played 10 shows in Latin America, including four in Brazil. The Costa Rica stop was the only Central American show.
“This is our last show of the World Tour,” Armstrong said. “And you know what? We’ve saved the best for last. We’re going to play all night if that’s all right with you.”
As the clock struck midnight, Green Day closed with “Time of Your Life,” a whimsical ballad and commercial hit often used as a backdrop for such things as high school graduation photo slideshows. The ever-popular song, though not representative of the band’s body of work, gave the thousands of exhausted fans a warm and fuzzy finale, as they put their arms around each other and swayed and grinned and sang the nostalgic lyrics with Armstrong.
Typical of Green Day, after a long night of pulsating, raucous, furious jams, they ended the night with a well-received snippet of their sensitive side. As one day gave way to the next, Green Day still had the audience’s full attention. There’s no reason to think that will change anytime soon.