Wrigley Field has hosted massive rock shows this summer, with the debut performance of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers among recent highlights. Next week, Bay Area punk rock titans Green Day will make their first appearance at the Friendly Confines as part of the seventh leg of their continent-hopping Revolution Radio tour.
The Grammy-winning band’s early music may have been characterized by snotty slacker pop like the swinging “Longview” and frenetic “Basket Case,” but age hasn’t softened the group that coalesced in 1990 when drummer Tré Cool joined then-teenaged guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and bassist Mike Dirnt. The band’s more recent fare including albums “American Idiot” and “21st Century Breakdown” has only become more pointed and potent.
“Revolution Radio” single “Bang Bang” is a caustic blast written from the point of view of a mass shooter, tapping into terrorism fears fueled by social media and shock journalism. Twisted celebrity culture is part of the mix, too. The lyric “bang bang, give me fame” connects the song thematically to Peter Gabriel’s contemplative and harrowing 1980 single “Family Snapshot.” The band’s hard-charging gallop and Armstrong’s buzzsaw guitar continue to draw threads to classic firebrands like The Clash, The Ramones and Bad Religion.
The anthemic “Still Breathing” is a tough-minded but uplifting ode to perseverance and inner strength despite formidable hardships. Among the championed are addicts, shell-shocked soldiers, abandoned children and single mothers with the will to overcome adversity. The song’s sky-sailing chorus also finds the group in full command of its melodic prowess. Much like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” or the gentle “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” – a song crafty enough that it was covered by late pop maestro Glen Campbell – the song reveals again that the band have more in their favor than ample attitude.
Recent reports from the Revolution Radio tour suggest that the band has the goods to deliver a rowdy rock show to rattle Wrigley’s scoreboard. Fans who arrive to the ballpark early will be treated to an opening set by Brit Award-winning rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen, likely to include spirited singles “7” and “Kathleen.”
Jeff Elbel is a local freelance writer.