Latest live release from snotty punks turned stadium-rock royalty.
Alistair Lawrence 2011-03-18
Green Day’s last two studio albums have been divided up into three distinct acts. Their latest live album does the same with their career, from the raw and snotty distant past to their part as princes in the mid-90s pop-punk explosion, on to their latter day reboot as stadium rock royalty. Only it starts at the end, bends back in the middle like a slingshot, and then catapults them forward to where they came in.
Confused? You won’t be, as one thing Awesome as F**k makes apparent is how many songs they’ve written that stick in the head – either as well-remembered classics or radio earworms. Where it occasionally slips, stumbles and falters is that the songs that are big, bold and boring – 21 Guns, anything off 21st Century Breakdown – often sound like crowd pleasers, this time with the sound effects to prove it, when placed next to the anthems that endure: a version of Geek Stink Breath that feeds its studio counterpart through a shredder, and pretty much everything off Dookie.
It also falls into of the usual live album manholes of offering surprises one minute and disappointments the next. Holiday’s soul-wringing riff doesn't sparkle the same as it does on record, but American Idiot makes the most of the live format as it gets the breathtaking ‘you take the first verse’ sing-along treatment. Going to Pasalacqua works as a surprising curio dusted off from the vault, but Cigarettes and Valentines sounds more like a discarded B side than the previously-unreleased title-track to the abandoned album that gave way to American Idiot.
The bonus DVD of an entire set from Japan is a nice touch but, rather than the damp, double-ballad ending of Wake Me Up When September Ends and Good Riddance, the final thrill is the scope. Recordings from shows in Europe, the US and Southeast Asia show literally how far Green Day have gone to make this a fitting document and an inclusive experience. Not one for the casual fans, but more than enough to remember the good times.