Green Day, Milton Keynes Bowl, Saturday 18th June
My Weekend of Rock began with a hot, sweaty traffic jam into Milton Keynes. Once past the security Nazis however, the discomfort of the journey was soon forgotten, and the fabulous atmosphere soaked up instead. The best feature of the National Bowl is just that – it’s a bowl (!) so wherever you stand/sit, you get a good view, perfect for those of us who are vertically challenged!
The place was rammed with bodies already so we quickly found ourselves a spot to make our own for the day, and settled down with a much-needed cold beer for the first couple of bands, namely Hard Fi and Taking Back Sunday. Unfortunately neither of these bands made much impression on this writer, but that may have been more to do with not knowing their material – however, I was not inspired to get to know their material having seen what can only be described as lacklustre performances from both bands.
This is approximately where the anticipation started building to fever pitch for the Kazza-camp. Sure enough, Jimmy Eat World played a blistering set, albeit to a largely apathetic audience. Consisting largely of material from Bleed American, they were perfect listening for a sunny Saturday afternoon. Even the mostly disinterested crowd were forced to sit up and take notice when they blasted out The Middle. Obviously thrilled to be there and on top form, Jimmy Eat World deserved a far better reception than they actually got. Predictably the largest cheer came when they announced that Green Day were next before they left the stage.
During the break, you could feel the anticipation and excitement amongst the crowd rise a few hundred notches. Mexican waves were started (and failed!), and as the crowd got more impatient, bottles of water started to be thrown around.
The roar of appreciation that went up from the masses on Green Day’s appearance was absolutely immense. This is the band we were all there for, and they certainly didn’t let us down. From the opening bars of American Idiot, to the closing strains of Time Of Your Life, they showed the crowd in no uncertain terms that Billie Joe has evolved into one of this generations greatest frontmen.
Too many highlights to mention here, but of particular note were When September Ends, a full-on, lighters-aloft goosebumps moment! With such a wealth of material to choose from, it was inevitable that not everyone’s favourites would be heard, from the Warning album they only played Minority, and barely more from Dookie. But why would they, when they’ve got such an amazing current album to draw from? Much of American Idiot was played, St Jimmy and Jesus of Suburbia being particularly outstanding.
Billie Joe did not stand still for a second, seemingly full to the brim with cheeky grins and mischief. At one point a young kid was pulled up onto the stage to help BJ spray the crowd with some much-needed water from a SuperSoaker gun. It was a particularly moving moment when during their rendition of Operation Ivy’s Knowledge, 3 members of the crowd were picked out to play bass, guitar and drums respectively and finish the song. On being told he could keep the guitar afterwards, the young guitarist almost wept!
This has to have been surely the best gig of Green Day’s entire career to date. I would’ve gone back and done it all again on the Sunday, were it not for . . .
Motley Crue, Wembley Pavilion, Sunday June 19th
Having never had the chance to see Motley Crue before, this was a gig not to be missed. We did nearly miss the start however, due to the tickets being wrongly printed with a door opening time of 7.30. We arrived at 8 and both supports had already finished, which was disappointing. Not the only disappointment of the night.
The venue itself is absolutely terrible, I urge anyone reading this to avoid this venue if at all possible. The Wembley Pavilion has been thrown up as a temporary gig venue whilst the Arena is being refurbished. An all-seated venue, I was one of the luckier ones, being in row 15, but anyone much further back would have seen precisely nothing, as the entire seating is flat. Advertised as being ‘climactically controlled’ on their website, we took our seats on the hottest day of the year to find ourselves in an almost unbearably scorching, airless tent.
All whinges were quickly forgotten about when Motley hit the stage and blasted straight into Shout at the Devil, a perfect fist-pumping, headbanging choice of an opener.
This was a totally full on and energetic show from start to finish, the first set consisting of mainly earlier stuff. Despite the intense heat, energy levels were running high. Music aside for a moment, the theatrics of the show were second-to-none, we had fire-breathing midgets, scantily-clad acrobats, circus freaks, and one particularly scary lady with metal pants and an angle grinder!
Vince’s voice in particular was in top form, as was Mick Mars who, resplendent in drawn-on tash and beard, still looked like death, but was a lot more agile than I’d expected! Not much can be said about Nikki without getting ridiculously fangirly, but suffice to say it was great to see the 4 of them united and seeming to be having a great time on this tour.
A much needed interval followed, which was a welcome chance to get out and grab a few lungfuls of cooler air, before hearing the first few lines of Girls Girls Girls and dashing back to my seat. The second set was even better, if that’s possible, than the first.
Sadly Without You was cut from the set, but we got our fix of power-balladry in the form of the anthemic Home Sweet Home
Then came the section of the show with Tommy Lee’s TittyCam, where plenty of boobage was displayed (not by myself I hasten to add!). Funniest moment was from Tommy on trying to coax a reluctant girlie out of her clothes: “Aww, don’t get all pissy, what do you think this is, a Bon Jovi Concert?!”
For the encore, we were treated to covers of Anarchy in the UK, and Helter Skelter, for which Nikki Sixx’s son Gunner joined them on guitar, Nikki Sixx’s pride to have his son up there with him was plain for all to see.
And all too soon it was over, and time to head back to the hotel, sweaty, tired, but deliriously happy after one of the best weekends of my gigging career!